Appearances can be so misleading…
That’s common knowledge, I know, but I still get surprised – positively or negatively – by some venues that seem to be one thing, but prove to be another.
This cafe in London’s St Katherine Docks is but one example. That sunny morning I had been wandering around the Tower Bridge area and stumbled upon this hidden spot, filled with water, boats and cafes – which reminded me I hadn’t had breakfast! Although the choice was ample, none of it seemed to appeal to my tastebuds at the time: I didn’t want to end up in a Starbucks, nor did a Turkish restaurant sound like a good idea at that time of day.
Eventually, I decided to settle for an unassuming venue, bearing the name of this charming part of the city, and promising “Healthy Food” on its signage.
I went inside to order, to be greeted by a deli counter and a rather grumpy owner, and his helper, quietly busying around the coffee machine; instantly I regretted my decision, but it was too late to turn back, and my stomach was growling at this point, so I ordered my scrambled eggs with salmon and – after sparing a second thought on the barista’s coffee-making capabilities – a mocha.
The outside area, albeit chilly, presented itself as a nicer place to sit, so I took one of the tables (tightly placed next to one another allowing little privacy) overlooking the docks, and the rather depressing looking Tower Hotel.
The coffee arrived very quickly afterwards, and although the barista didn’t offer to wipe the spill on the saucer, my idea of the venue took an instant turnaround. Just by looking at the cup, with effortless latte art on top, it was clear this would be a special brew. I took a sip… and was not disappointed. The texture was smooth and creamy, the flavour packed a punch in caffeine and sweet chocolate.
Because the food took longer to arrive, I actually ended up ordering a second mocha, and managed to drink most of it before I had to loosen the belt a bit and be off on my way.
I would certainly return to the Docks, and – if it was a non-fuss service and great coffee I wanted – I’d put St Katherine’s cafe on my priority list.
Verdict justification: Lovely coffee and nice views of the boats, but the impersonal service spoils the magic a little bit.
St Katherine Docks Cafe C2 Ivory House St Katharine Docks, E Smithfield, London E1W 1AT