I realised the other day that I hadn’t done a ‘Local Hero’ for AGES, and by chance I happened to pass The Market Coffee House the very same day. Serendipity in the truest sense.
When I was thinking about the whole ‘Local Hero’ side to this blog, The Market Coffee House was exactly the kind of place that I had in mind. Special, but unpretentious, and quietly plugging away at doing what they do best without all the bluster, PR and twitter noise that’s become so common.
I first started going to The Market Coffee House when I worked around the corner in Spitalfields what now seems like ages ago. Before the days of the Aussie and Kiwi coffee shops, the MCH was my go to place for a decent cup of coffee. Back then, it was the only café I can remember that had proper Baristas who took great care and attention over each and every cup. They also sold their coffees in the smaller cups that have now become more familiar. Quality over quantity before it was fashionable.
Another reason it’s one of my favourite places in London, is it’s atmosphere. Although it’s only been open as a coffee shop since 2001, it has such a warm, worn-in quality, that it feels like it could have been servicing the local area since Victorian times. The wood paneling, bare floorboards and original features make it really cosy, and as far from a modern coffee chain as you can get.
The food is good too. Until a year or so ago it was known more for simple, but always tasty stuff like bagels, sandwiches, crab salads, soups, and awesome cakes, but they have recently expanded the premises, including a ‘proper kitchen’, which means their offering is now much broader. When I heard that they were making the MCH bigger, I was a bit worried about the outcome, but I needn’t have been. The extension has been done with such sympathy and faithfulness to the original premises that it feels like it’s always been there, and the more substantial food likewise. It was the only choice for my wife and I to feed our post wedding hangovers.
As you might have guessed, I’m a big fan, so if you’re in the area, I strongly suggest you pop in for a coffee and a slice of something sweet at the very least.
UPDATE: The Market Coffee House is now called The English Restaurant, but I’m assured it’s just as lovely a place as it ever was.