Number 35 Coffee House & Kitchen

Thumbnail - No 35 Coffee House & Kitchen (DSC_6237h)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 Coffee House & Kitchen on Dorchester's West High Street.
  • Nice A-board.
  • Stepping inside: the front room, looking left...
  • ... and looking right.
  • And finally, the front window.
  • The front window in detail. Nice seats, if you like stools.
  • Try sitting at the counter if you want to chat with Toby. Or just watch him at work.
  • You can also sit opposite the counter.
  • The little bar opposite the counter in more detail.
  • What's that down there?
  • A few steps and then an interesting corridor...
  • ... a very interesting corridor! And long!
  • Well, look at that! A whole other room at the back.
  • A slightly different perspective.
  • This is the place to come if you want chairs. And tables.
  • Although there are stools as well.
  • There are also fancy armchairs...
  • ... and the odd bench.
  • The walls are decorated by coffee sacks.
  • ... and lots of mirrors.
  • Number 35 through the looking glass.
  • Obligatory light-fitting shot. And some dubious reading material.
  • Time to head back to the front room.
  • Not only is Number 35 dog-friendly, it also has a friendly dog. She's lovely.
  • Two rooms, two obligatory light fitting shots.
  • The counter, Sean to the left, Toby to the right. C'mon guys, pay attention.
  • Okay, so, we're going for the serious look are we?
  • No, I didn't think it would last... :-)
  • The business side of the espresso machine...
  • ... and the two espresso grinders.
  • The beans are chalked up above the counter; somehow I only photographed the espressos.
  • The coffee shelf.
  • The food menu: cake to the left, sandwiches and tart to the right.
  • Cake! In person.
  • On Friday evenings, there's also a full food menu.
  • I was there at lunchtime and had tart (and in-focus salad).
  • I followed that up with espresso (the Dumerso) and cake.
  • Both of which were lovely enough to deserve their own photo. Espresso first...
  • ... then cake (raspberry & almond).
  • At Toby's suggestion, I also tried the Dumerso in milk.
  • The milk was beautifully steamed, holding its pattern to the bottom of the cup.
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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)
Sunday CLOSED Power Limited
Chain No Visits 21st November 2014

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23 thoughts on “Number 35 Coffee House & Kitchen

  1. Given that you report on so many fine coffee establishments in Britain and that new ones seem to be opening on a regular basis, is there any sign of a slowdown or better still a reversal in the number of chain shops like Starbucks being opened?

    • Hi Ian,

      I don’t see a reversal in the numbers of the chains and I’m not sure it would be a good thing if there was. I see the chains as not competing directly with the speciality shops and in some cases providing customers for them. Plus the chains are a good indicator of the health of the coffee market; if they start closing large numbers of branches I’d fear for the speciality shops as well!

      Brian.

  2. Visited Cafe 35 after your review. Agree on lovely venue, tart and welcome (including to our dog). However very disappointed with the coffee..flat white too milky so then reordered an Americano which was very weak and a unusual (not to my taste) flavour. On the plus side he didn’t charge for the flat white.

    • Hi Carol,

      Thanks for the feedback. One of the features of somewhere like Number 35 where the beans are regularly changing, is that you will always get different beans, some of which will be to your taste, some not. The joy, for me, is that you get to try different things which will challenge/stretch your taste buds. The downside is that you will sometimes have coffee you don’t like.

      I’m curious to know if you discussed what sort of coffee you like with the barista before ordering? If not, how did you go about choosing what to have?

      Brian.

      • Fair comment Brian. We didn’t discuss the options – they didn’t offer a choice like for instance i have experienced at Amid Giants and Idols and Broom Wagon so I, perhaps wrongly, assumed there wasn’t a choice. We will give it another go as we liked the ambience.

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  9. I go to Number 35 a lot but not as much as I’d like to! I never choose what coffee to have. I let Toby (or Andy or Sean) do that. My “usual” is a surprise. While I have preferred some more than others I’ve never been disappointed yet. By far the best coffee shop in Dorchester. Have you tried Toby’s new shop in Bridport? Box Office Coffee. Definitely worth a visit!

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    • Hi Shaun,

      Thanks for letting me know. Turns out Number 35 closed at the end of December, although Toby is still pulling shots, this time at Seventh Seal, a Gentleman’s Barber, Apothecary, Clothier & Espresso Bar in Dorchester.

      Many thanks,
      Brian.

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