On the West Coast Mainline out of Euston and a few minutes from J20 of the M25, Hertfordshire’s Kings Langley is a place I have undoubtedly sped past many times in both train and car. However, drawn by the lure of Fred & Ginger Coffee and the need to take a break for lunch on a long drive north, this was the first time I had ventured into the village itself.
With free parking on the High Street right outside the shop and a free car park just around the corner (where I went) Fred & Ginger is a more-than-adequate alternative to the (non-existent on this stretch of the M25) motorway services. It’s also close enough to make it feasible to pull off for a quick stop. Or, indeed, a leisurely lunch.
As if to celebrate my arrival, the pouring rain that I’d driven through all the way there stopped, the clouds blew away and the sun came out. I think I like Kings Langley! As for Fred & Ginger itself, this is a coffee shop which would grace any town/city in the country with superb coffee, great food, friendly staff and a lovely atmosphere. You really can’t go wrong!
March 2015: Fred & Ginger now has its own bespoke blend from Campbell & Syme as its house espresso with regular guests on espresso and pour-over.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Fred & Ginger isn’t huge, but it’s beautifully proportioned. Rectangular, with the long side facing the High Street, it’s a bright, cheerful place. Generous windows, which run the length of the store, let in plenty of sunlight. It’s tastefully laid out in wood, with wooden floorboards, wooden-planked counters, wooden tables and wooden chairs/stools. The wood itself is very dark, contrasting nicely with the plain, whitewashed walls and ceilings. For those rare days when the sun isn’t shining in Kings Langley, various funky light-bulbs suspended from the ceiling provide plenty of light. The atmosphere is rounded off with discrete background music that mingles with the happy hum of conversation.
As you come in, you’re immediately greeted by a counter to your right, laden with food and cake. Opposite you, taking up the right-hand half of the back wall, a second counter holds the espresso machine (a bright red La Marzocco), grinders and a little brew bar on the left-hand end.
You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to seating, with window bars either side of the door, a tall, communal table in the centre (complete with leather-seated high chairs, where I ended up) and three four-person tables, two against the left wall and one at the back vying for space with the counter. Finally, there are three stools at the brew-bar end of the counter, where you can sit and watch the filter coffee being made. There’s even a pair of tables on the pavement outside in the sun. You can probably get 30 people inside, which would make it cosy, but not intolerably so. I reckon there were around twenty people when I was there, making it comfortably full.
Fred & Ginger boasts a very comprehensive espresso menu with Has Bean’s Jaberwocky as the house blend and Caravan’s Market Blend as the guest. There is also a Has Bean decaf on its own grinder, while the brew bar offers pour-over single origins, again with its own dedicated grinder. If you like what you see/drink, there’s a small selection of coffee beans and equipment for sale. If coffee’s not your thing, there is tea is from Tea Pigs for those of that persuasion and fresh juice.
I was intrigued, as I always am, by what Fred & Ginger thought the difference was between a piccolo and cortado, both of which were on the menu. I was told that the piccolo was the shorter, sweeter of the two, so I went with that and was rewarded with a very fine glass of coffee. It certainly was sweet, with the Jaberwocky coming boldly through the milk and hitting the sweet notes. I’m not convinced I would have liked the Jaberwocky on its own, but with milk, it was amazing.
The food on offer at Fred & Ginger is impressive, with a range of sandwiches, soup of the day, tart of the day and salad. The cake and pastries offering is equally impressive and although I was sorely tempted, I didn’t have time to indulge. I did, however, have the tart of the day for my lunch, a very fine tomato and red pepper concoction with hit the spot.
|38 HIGH STREET • KINGS LANGLEY • WD4 9HT|
|http://fredandgingercoffee.co.uk||+44 (0) 1923 262420|
|Monday||08:00 – 17:00||Roaster||Campbell & Syme + Guests (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 17:00||Seating||Bars, Tables, Table (outside)|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 17:00||Food||Sandwiches, Lunch, Cake|
|Thursday||08:00 – 17:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||08:00 – 17:00||Cards||Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||09:00 – 17:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||09:00 – 16:00||Power||No|
|Chain||No||Visits||20th February 2014|
For a more recent (and equally enthusiastic) viewpoint, you can see what fellow coffee-blogger Coffee ‘n’ Stuff makes of Fred & Ginger.
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