Number 35 Coffee House & Kitchen, appropriately enough at No 35 on Dorchester’s West High Street, is a gem amongst coffee shops. Run by the very wonderful Toby, it is one of that rare breed where the focus is firmly on the bean, following the lead of the likes of Dublin’s 3FE or the closer Full Court Press (Bristol) and Colonna & Small’s (Bath).
However, it’s not just about the coffee, since Number 35 also lives up to the kitchen part of its name, with food at lunchtimes and, on Friday evenings, a full dinner menu. The coffee shop closes at 3 o’clock on Fridays, re-opening at four as the kitchen. There is, of course, cake throughout the day.
It helps that Number 35 is also a lovely setting. There’s a small front room, which feels in part like an old Victorian shop, with its bay window and high ceilings, plus a quiet, cosy back room. This is long, low and has the bulk of the seating, feeling more like a basement (although it is at ground level).
Last, but not least, Number 35 is dog-friendly, and, as if to prove the point, has a friendly dog.
September 2015: I’m delighted that Number 35 was short-listed for this year’s Lunch Business Awards Best Coffee Experience.
December 2016: Sadly Number 35 closed at the end of the year. The good news is that Toby, the man behind Number 35, is still pulling shots, this time at Dorchester’s Seventh Seal, a Gentleman’s Barber, Apothecary, Clothier and Espresso Bar.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Number 35 has a small frontage, little more than door and bay window. However, this is no quaint Dorchester coffee shop catering to the tourist trade. Spacious and high-ceilinged, the front is dominated by the counter, taking up most of the right-hand side of the store. It houses the espresso machine and two (espresso) grinders, with space behind for two further (filter) grinders. Against the back wall, another counter holds the cake, sandwiches and tart.
You can sit on one of three stools at the window-end of the counter, ideal for chatting with Toby or for watching shots being pulled on the La Marzocco Strada. Alternatively, try perching on a low stool at one of two tables in the bay window, also good for chatting with Toby, less so for watching him at work. Finally, there’s a little fold-down bar opposite the counter, where again you’re perched on a stool.
I loved the décor and atmosphere. The wall’s painted red at the back, while to the left it’s red to waist level, then white to the ceiling (which is also white). However, almost every available space is plastered with movie posters. The floor has lovely, black tiles. When I was there, on a mild autumn afternoon, the windows were steamed up with condensation from the espresso machine, making Number 35 a warm and homely place.
At the back, to the left of the cake, steps lead down to a long, thin corridor. This runs past the kitchen (behind the right-hand wall) and into the back room, a quiet, low-ceilinged spot, about twice as long as the front. Although it’s barely conceivable that you wouldn’t want to chat with Toby, this is the place to go for a bit of quiet contemplation, or a cosy tête-à-tête. It feels more like a basement, with just a solitary thin window and a generous provision of tables, plus a cosy pair of armchairs right at the back.
I arrived for a late lunch by which time the sandwiches (choice of two) were gone, so I had the tart (onions, capers, papnko & goat’s cheese) instead. It had a wonderfully crumbly puff-pastry base, came with a green leaf salad and was very tasty indeed.
Number 35 has four beans on offer, two filter (one pour-over, one Aeropress when I was there) and two espresso. They’re from a variety of roasters, with the likes of nearby Round Hill Roastery (Bath) and Clifton Coffee Company (Bristol), plus London’s Square Mile, Workshop and Mission Coffee Works. From further afield there’s Berlin’s The Barn, plus Toby is looking to work with some Scandinavian and American roasters.
Beans and roasters change regularly with 5-8 kg being bought at a time. When they’re gone, they’re gone, usually in a couple of weeks. Details are chalked up behind the counter, with no mention of roaster, so the emphasis is firmly on the bean. At Toby’s recommendation, I tried the Ethiopian Dumerso from Mission, which was lovely as an espresso: sweet, very rich and fruity. As a flat white it went well with the milk, but was a very different coffee, losing its unique flavour.
I finished with a slice of raspberry and almond cake, which was also very sweet, without being sickly. The highlight, though, was the very creamy buttercream icing.
September 2015: You can see what I made of Number 35’s “little sister”, Bridport’s Box Office Coffee.
|35 WEST HIGH STREET • DORCHESTER • DT1 1UP|
|www.coffeehouseandkitchen.com||+44 (0) 1305 549269|
|Monday||07:30 – 15:00||Guests||Guests (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||07:30 – 15:00||Seating||Tables, Counter|
|Wednesday||07:30 – 15:00||Food||Lunch, Cake, Dinner (Friday evenings only)|
|Thursday||07:30 – 15:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||07:30 – 21:00||Cards||Cash only|
|Saturday||08:30 – 15:00||Wifi||Free (see notes)|
|Chain||No||Visits||21st November 2014|
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