Just to the east of Cambridge’s historic centre, on the busy Regent’s Road, you’ll find Novi, coffee shop and brunch spot by day, bar (and cocktail bar) by night. In keeping with the likes of Notes in London or Liverpool’s Filter + Fox, Novi combines speciality coffee and beer/wine/cocktails, but with the sort of food output you’d get from somewhere like Villiers Coffee Co.
A surprisingly large place, in a lovely, 1930s building, Novi occupies the ground floor, although there are plans to open the upstairs areas on a more permanent basis. There’s generous seating opposite the counter at the front, more seating towards the rear by the kitchen, and a small, enclosed courtyard out the back. With windows front and back, as well as down one side, it’s a bright, airy, uncluttered space.
The coffee is from Bury St Edmunds’ Frank and Earnest, with a single-origin on both espresso and pour-over through the V60. Coffee is served well into the evening, while there is beer, wine and cocktails until 3am! There’s food, with a full brunch menu served until four o’clock, plus a bar menu in the evening. And, of course, cake.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Novi occupies a three storey building on Cambridge’s busy Regent Street. The ground floor is dedicated to what can best be described as a coffee lounge by day and a bar/cocktail bar by night. The first floor is home to a private function room, while there’s a cocktail bar (Friday and Saturday evenings from five o’clock) upstairs.
The coffee lounge has a simple rectangular layout, with airlock-style doors on either side of a broad window which overlooks the busy street. There’s a single full-width concertina window with a low window-bar, complete with low stools/benches. In the summer, the window can be fully opened, giving Novi more of an outdoor feel.
The counter is a broad, spacious affair on the right-hand side, while there is seating on left and at the back, giving you plenty of options. Novi has also resisted the temptation to cram too much in, so there’s a wonderful feeling of space. As you enter on the right, the counter is directly ahead of you, while on the left, there’s an eight-person table projecting from the wall, both of which direct you to the centre of the room. If you like, you can sit at the far end of the counter on one of six high, padded bar-chairs. Alternatively, there’s a high bar against the left-hand wall, with two pairs of high, padded bar-chairs, one pair for each of the two windows, although the view, of the wall of the adjacent building, leaves a little to be desired! There are also three round, four-person tables on the left-hand side.
Beyond the counter, Novi opens out a bit. There’s another eight-person communal table on the left, with two four-person tables in the centre. Against the right-hand wall, a lovely padded sofa runs along the wall, occupied by two further four-person tables. The kitchen is also back here on the left, visible through an open serving hatch. On the right, the back half of the wall is all glass, a door leading out to a small, high-walled seating area, enclosed on all four sides, which doubles as a smoking area.
The counter has the coffee operation at the window-end, with a row of six V60s facing the window, while the espresso machine is behind the counter, business end facing the customers. The cakes are also on display down here, while there are beer taps either end, with a fully stocked bar at the far end, opposite the bar-chairs.
On my first visit in June, I had a flat white, made with Frank and Earnest’s Honduras single-origin which acts as the house-espresso. Quite a dark-tasting coffee, its flavour cuts through the milk and provided a good start to my day. I paired this with the scrambled eggs and griddled homemade cornbread, which was excellent. The creamy, zingy scrambled eggs went really well with the bread, which was superb.
I popped back to Novi in September for a V60 of the Burundi single-origin. A fruity, subtle coffee, it was served at the correct drinking temperature. This time I tried the chia and coconut flour pancakes, with mixed fruits and maple cream. Consisting of three small pancakes, laden with fruit and with the cream on the side, they were delightful, with a slightly savoury feel to them which I enjoyed.
|12 REGENT STREET • CAMBRIDGE • CB2 1DB|
|http://novicambridge.co.uk||+44 (0) 1223 518537|
|Monday||09:00 – 03:00||Roaster||Frank & Earnest (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||09:00 – 03:00||Seating||Tables, Window Bar, Counter, Tables (outside)|
|Wednesday||09:00 – 03:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Small Plates, Cake|
|Thursday||09:00 – 03:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||09:00 – 03:00||Cards||Amex, Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||09:00 – 03:00||Wifi||Free (with sign-in)|
|Sunday||09:00 – 23:00||Power||Yes|
|Chain||No||Visits||4th June, 5th September 2016|
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