London’s Lower Marsh is not the most appealing part of the capital. Even the name doesn’t conjure up particularly positive images. Lying behind Waterloo and not particularly on the way to anywhere, I’ve only recently become aware of it, despite Waterloo being my gateway to London for the past 15+ years. However, there it is and, in recent years, it has started to shed its poor image, becoming home to the likes of the Scooter Cafe and now, just across the road, to Four Corners Cafe.
Four Corners is, if you’ll excuse the pun, going places. Taking inspiration from the phrase “four corners of the world”, it’s a travel-themed Cafe, decorated with maps of the world and dotted with globes. Continuing the travel theme, its neat loyalty card is in the form of a miniature passport.
Not that this counts for much if the coffee is poor, but thankfully it’s not. As well as a decent coffee menu, powered by London Roasters, Ozone, Four Corners offers loose-leaf tea from Yumchaa and a small range of toasted sandwiches and pastries to die for (according to fellow coffee-blogger, Kate, aka A Southern Belle in London) from a bakers just around the corner.
April 2014: Four Corners won “Best Use of Social Media” the inaugural London Coffee Stops Awards!
August 2020: Four Corners has reopened, offering takeaway service only, although there is limited outside seating. You can see what I made of it when I visited later that month.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery (updated from my return visit a year later).
Four Corners, which opened in mid-July 2013, is already making a name for itself. I met fellow-blogger Kate there for a general catch-up one Friday lunchtime, when Four Corners was busy although not ram-packed full. Despite only having been open for a month, it was clear that quite a few of the customers were already regulars.
Four Corners is slightly disadvantaged by having roadworks right outside its front door, complete with (while I was there) pneumatic drills and concrete tile cutters. It also made getting a decent photograph of the front tricky. Despite this initial distraction, I was quickly taken by the place. Eschewing the modern trend for exposed air-conditioning vents, unpainted walls and furniture that sometimes looks as if it’s come from a clearance sale, Four Corners presents a smart, neat image, with walls and ceilings painted in neutral greys and whites and decorated by the aforementioned maps and globes.
A generous counter greets you from the opposite corner as you come in. To the right, a small bar sits on the end of the counter and, between that and the windows, are two tall round tables. The seating is provided by old, metal stools. Ahead of you, to the counter’s left, is a delightful eight-person table with a Lego-effect top, “Four Corners” being spelt out in white. Beyond that is a small extension to the main space, housing a couple of square two-person tables opposite another bar.
Being relatively new, Four Corners has (quite rightly) focused on getting the basics right. The coffee menu offers the usual espresso-based standards without branching out into cortados/piccolos. There’s a choice of three toasted ciabatta sandwiches, a small range of pastries (with the possibility of cake to come) and a range of loose-leaf teas.
Once Four Corners has got the basics nailed, it may expand its offerings, but for now I think it’s the correct approach. For example, there’s no pour-over/filter option: the space that might otherwise be taken by a second grinder and a (coffee) brew bar, has been given over to loose-leaf tea. The owner, Gary, in conversation with Kate, said he placed as much emphasis on tea as coffee, determined to shake the standard coffee-shop impression that tea is coffee’s poor-relation, relegated to a tea-bag dunked in a mug of hot water (in fairness to many independents, tea features much more strongly than this, although it’s always welcome when a coffee shop goes out of its way to make an effort).
Between us, Kate and I sampled a good deal of the coffee menu. She had a surprisingly short latte in a glass, while I had a surprisingly large flat white in a cup. Kate rounded things off with an espresso. There was nothing wrong with my coffee, but the milk could have done with more volume, the foam collapsing after a few minutes. The espresso (I had a sip of Kate’s) was very much to my taste, not too complex, with a hint of bitterness about it.
I had the mozzarella and pesto sandwich, with lovely, crispy bread. Kate, meanwhile, declared the pastries to die for, in particular the pain-au-chocolate. However, judging by the look on her face when told she’d had the last one, to kill for might be a more apt description!
|12 LOWER MARSH • LONDON • SE1 7RJ
|+44 (0)208 617 9591
|07:30 – 18:30
|Ozone (espresso + filter)
|07:30 – 18:30
|07:30 – 18:30
|Lunch, Sandwiches, Cake
|07:30 – 19:30
|Order at Counter
|07:30 – 19:30
|Cards + Cash
|10:00 – 17:00
|Free (with code)
|Original: 16th August 2013
Update: 16th July 2014
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