Someone said of Bea’s of Bloomsbury: “as much cake as you can imagine”. Now, that sounds like a challenge to me, and I can imagine a lot of cake. For fans of Radio 4’s excellent Cabin Pressure, this is very reminiscent of the Ottery St Mary episode and the question: “how many otters can you imagine?”. So, suitably forearmed with an imagination full of cake, I arrived at Bea’s of Bloomsbury and I wasn’t disappointed.
Bea’s does cake. It seems a shame to gloss over the lunches, sandwiches, tea, coffee and afternoon tea, but seriously, Bea’s does cake. In a big way. The Bloomsbury branch (which is where it all started) is quite small, so as well as functioning as a cosy coffee spot, it also has a stream of takeaway customers who just come for the cake. But if you do take your cake away, you’ll miss out on the best part, that of sitting there and staring longingly at the other cakes. Or maybe that’s just me…
May 2019: Bea’s of Bloomsbury, which was acquired in 2018 by Department of Coffee & Social Affairs, has closed the original Bea’s on Theoblads Road.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
My visit to Bea’s of Bloomsbury is a testament to the power of Twitter. And of nagging. Nagging, combined with subtle enticement. In short, I was bombarded with pictures of cupcakes over Twitter until I crumbled. Not that the crumbling took very long…
I’m glad that I did though. While Bea’s is only 10 minute’s walk from the British Museum along Theobalds Road, this is a part of London that I don’t know at all and don’t visit, so Bea’s is not somewhere that I would naturally stumble across. Such is the power of recommendation. And the reach of Twitter.
Cake is Bea’s main selling point, which isn’t to do down the tea, coffee or lunches, but the cake is what drew me in and it’s cake that you are confronted with when you walk through the door. Bea’s is long and thin, so you have to edge your way past the cake in order to get to the till. All the while the cakes call out to you, subtly whispering your name. Quite how they knew my name, I’m really not sure.
It’s not a huge place; at a push it will seat 24 if everyone squeezes up. However, if everyone ate all the cake, squeezing up would be nigh on impossible! There is more seating outside, but not much more and you have to contend with the ever-present traffic on Theobalds Road. Inside, there’s a small group of seats up a short flight of steps, while the rest is downstairs, in full view of the cakes. Did I mention that they do cake? It’s a conspiracy, I tell you.
A lot of thought has gone into Bea’s. I love the layout and feel of the place. It’s surprisingly relaxed and cosy; with the narrow layout and the constant comings and goings, this led to a never-ending stream people going past my table. Normally I would find that distracting, but in Bea’s I found it comforting. Although there’s no power or WiFi, I think of it as laptop friendly, largely because on my first visit I sat there with my laptop and wrote this post, feeling right at home.
The espresso I had was good, very short, and while a little too bitter for my taste, there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with that. To go with it, I had a slice of the ginger and pumpkin cheesecake, not a combination of flavours I’d tried before. I liked it though; the cheesecake being delightfully creamy.
I also had, on recommendation, one of the red velvet cupcakes that was calling my name. However, in the interests of survival, I took it away to eat later on, when I was no longer suffering from the combined sugar and caffeine high. It came in its own very fetching cardboard box and was muttering my name all the way home on the train. Honestly, it was getting embarrassing. The plan was to eat it that evening, but when people started looking at me, I succumbed and ate it on the train. It was excellent!
|44 THEOBALDS ROAD • BLOOMSBURY • LONDON • WC1X 8NW|
|www.beasofbloomsbury.com||+44 (0) 207 242 8330|
|Monday||07:00 – 19:00||Seating||Tables, Tables Outside|
|Tuesday||07:00 – 19:00||Food||Cakes, Lunch, Sandwiches|
|Wednesday||07:00 – 19:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Thursday||07:00 – 19:00||Cards||Amex, Mastercard, Visa (£5 minimum)|
|Friday||07:00 – 19:00||Wifi||No|
|Saturday||12:00 – 19:00||Power||No|
|Sunday||12:00 – 19:00||Mobile||3G, Voice|
|Chain||Local||Visits||Original: 5th October 2012|
|Update: 27th June 2014|
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