Another day trip in London, and another coffee-challenge. This time I found myself in the South Kensington area – following the cultural theme, to visit the Science and V&A Museums. The Time Out list did not suggest any cafes in the proximity of the two, so it was the time to play detective.
Using some uber-modern gadgets, that is: my Internet connected phone, I found an interesting spot: Coco Momo. It looked quite classy, the menu sounded appealing, yet, it wasn’t a cafe per se. I was on the phone at the time when I found it – and for the following half an hour – so I had a good look around the neighbourhood before I entered Coco – which never happened because I changed my mind when I spotted a French patisserie across the road.
As I went into Fait Maison, I cursed myself: it was another bistro, moreover, a semi-buffet style eatery. The menus suggested a set price for plates of food or salad, depending on the size; people were looking into the dishes on a Swedish table. Only after a while I realised only waiters were allowed to pick food from those to serve it to the customers. Same for the pastries, which were the reason why I stayed.
Indeed, the cake display looked heart-warming. From French pastries to sponge cakes, and from crumble to torts, there was so much goodness to choose from! Living on a budget or not, after a few hours of wandering around Renaissance sculpture I figured my stomach needed as much food as my soul had got. Off limits, it was a tough choice, but finally I decided on a pear and almond cake, with a good dose of chocolate icing.
As I was choosing the ‘food’ the waitress asked me what coffee I’d like. I simply asked for a soy mocha and took my seat. I started on the cake before getting the coffee, I couldn’t keep it waiting! And that’s when the first disappointment kicked in: dry, with hardly any pears in it. I looked longingly at the cake display, hoping I could pick something else instead…
Then the coffee arrived. It looked suspiciously big, and more like a latte but I bravely gave it ago. At that point I realised I had spoiled my London coffee venture for that day. The coffee tasted nothing like a mocha: not sweet at all, not very strong and of a watery texture, despite a promising presentation at the start. It then seemed like a bucket of warmed milk (could hardly distinguish it was soy too), but it aided the dry cake, so I added some sugar and tried to make the most of it.
When the bill arrived, I couldn’t help the growing frustration: as suspected, I was automatically served the bigger size of coffee, without the waitress even asking the question! Also, a discretionary charge was added to the bill – it wasn’t a fortune, but I thought: “Come on! It was only a slice of cake!” I might not have my priorities right, but when it comes to coffee, I like to leave tips for those who have actually made my experience enjoyable. I didn’t question the bill, however, just paid my dues and left.
Maybe I should stick to others’ advice about cafes in London… at least until I become a knowledgeable resident myself.
Medium Mocha: £2.95 (£2.70 for small) + 30p for soy
Verdict justification: The service and food display make an impression – the coffee and cakes do not.