There are places where I prefer the coffee. There are certainly places with more comfortable seating for someone of my height (and with more seating in general). And there are a host of other things I could go on about, but the fact remains that of the handful of cafés in the vicinity of the British Museum that I regularly visit, I find myself drawn back to Wild & Wood far more frequently than one might imagine.
There is something about Wild & Wood that I find very attractive, but I’m not sure I can easily put my finger on what it is. Partly it is the attitude of the place, a no nonsense, uncompromising adherence to its principles. Partly it is the style, which has been well thought out; the use of wood throughout is very appealing, as well as being in keeping with the name.
In the end, more than most of my favourite places, it comes down to a matter of taste. Give Wild & Wood a go and see what you think.
October 2015: Wild & Wood closed at the start of July this year as the whole block that Wild & Wood was in is being redeveloped. The good news is that it re-opened at the end of August in a new location on London Wall! See what I found when I went to visit.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Another of my regular haunts around the British Museum, Wild & Wood is a small coffee shop on New Oxford Street (the Holborn end rather than the Oxford Street end). True to its name, it majors on the wood. Apart from the tiled floor, pretty much everything else is wood, including the tables and benches. It’s another very small place, where the customers share the space with the espresso machine (which sits in the corner rather than behind a bar) and the window sill doubles as the cake counter. It’s a masterpiece in the use of limited space, which all adds to the charm. It’s also a nice to be sitting that close to the espresso machine. (That’s a little weird, isn’t it? Yes, I thought so. Forget I said that.)
There’s probably space for maybe 15 people inside, 20 if everyone bunches up and shares the two main tables. This includes the Nook, a cosy little niche off to the left when you come in (and the only place where there’s any power) and home to another three very small tables if you don’t feel like sharing. There’s also space at most another 10 on a similar array of benches on the pavement out front. Never a fan of the roar of London buses as an accompaniment to my coffee (it suffers from having a bus lane right outside), I’ve always chosen to sit inside, usually in the main area.
When it comes to the coffee, Wild & Wood is not actually my favourite place. I find the espresso a little too bitter, although there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with it, it’s just a question of taste. It’s certainly very well made, short and strong. Strangely, I’ve never tried a latte or cappuccino, but I suspect that these would be more to my taste. The cakes and pastries are excellent and I never visit without indulging in one. It’s also very reasonably-priced for central London.
What appeals, and what keeps me coming back, is the charm and attitude of the place (it’s certainly not the seating, where, in order to fit everything in, the benches are far too close to the tables for the comfort of tall folks such as me). I can’t really put my finger on exactly what it is, but there is a certain uncompromising robustness about Wild & Wood. It’s idiosyncratic and very much its own place, which is all part of the charm. For example, I love the little notices on the walls, such as “PS If you’re sitting here, you have to order. A glass of tap water WILL NOT DO!” There’s always a danger that such an attitude will come across as rude, but I’ve never felt that Wild & Wood falls into that trap. It probably helps that I like the cups too, but then again, I am pleased by such simple things…
Give it a go, see what you think. At the end of the day, what have you got to lose? Very little, actually, since the coffee is some of the cheapest in central London 🙂
If you’re interested, you can find out how I got on when I re-visited Wild & Wood in April 2014 and when I checked out Wild & Wood’s new location on London Wall in September 2015.
|NEW OXFORD STREET 1 UNIT 19 • BLOOMSBURY • LONDON • WC1A 1BA|
|www.wildandwoodcoffee.co.uk||+44 (0) 7525155957|
|Monday||07:30 – 17:45||Roaster||Monmouth (espresso only)|
|Tuesday||07:30 – 17:45||Seating||Wooden benches (inside and out)|
|Wednesday||07:30 – 17:45||Food||Cakes, Lunch|
|Thursday||07:30 – 17:45||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||07:30 – 17:45||Cards||Cash only|
|Saturday||10:00 – 17:30||Wifi||Free|
|Sunday||10:00 – 15:00||Power||Limited (only in the Nook)|
|Chain||No||Visits||Original: 31st August 2012|
|Update: 14th April 2014|
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Very interesting read Brian. You’re spot on here.
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I was never a fan of Wild & Wood. Maybe too cosy for me, or something about the general attitude, the broken windows with the handpainted “VOTED LONDONS BEST COFFEE SHOP” (really?). On the other hand always sad to lose an independent coffee shop.
I think it always was a little bit of an acquired taste… 🙂
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