I remember visiting the original Cognito for the first time three years ago (has it really been this long?!). At the time the standalone cafe only had a few seats outside – by now, the brand has built a mini local empire.
Today, Cognito is sporting a lovely outdoor area at the original shop, a wee branded van running about town, and a total of four different venues across the West End. I’m yet to visit the Deli across the road from the cafe, or the newest addition situated within the Queen’s Cross Church nearby, but I have already been twice to the stunning bistro/gin bar, Cognito on the Corner.
The first visit was on an early spring night, not too long after its opening. The decor was mesmerising: gold and brass in art deco, very Gatsby and very much to my taste – which made the few G&Ts, a charcuterie platter and the tête-à-tête with my company that night that much more enjoyable, even if we were sat at the bar.
After that, I forgot about the venue, partly due to it being a bit away from the city centre, and partly because the couple times I’d enquired for a table, they were fully booked.
But this was an unusual Sunday for myself and my other half, as we decided to take a break from hiking and stay in town. We fancied ourself some brunch, so our first shout was the Deli – unfortunately, as it later turned out, we picked the wrong date for it, as it was hosting Cognito’s bi-annual staff do that night, and was therefore closed.
The Corner wasn’t, however, and – once more – we managed to get the last seats at the bar. By that time ravenous, I ordered my Eggs Royale and a mocha, trusting in the coffee quality implied by the venue’s heritage; since the brew arrived first I went straight for it.
Unfortunately, the first sip revealed it did not stand up neither to the glam interior nor the Cognito legacy. Although it was well made, with smooth texture, it lacked the chocolatey sweetness, but at the same time had a bit of a powdery taste to it. There was only one size available to order and it was pretty big, and as it cooled down it developed a bitter milk aftertaste.
Sadly, neither did the Eggs Royale impress on this occasion. Because it was after noon at this point, my other half went for the Sunday roast, which still left him craving more; we thought about maybe ordering sweets from the pastry section at the back of the restaurant, but once we saw the minimalistic display, we decided against it.
Even though this wasn’t a memorable experience, I’m sure we will pay the Deli a visit soon, and I would still recommend the Corner for a romantic dinner or a night out with the girls – but probably best to stick to the original Cognito for coffee and cake.
Verdict justification: The venue is great for evening entertaining – not so much for a coffee break.