Mr Wolfe is one of those places which is preceded by its reputation. It’s also one of those places where its reputation is far greater than the actual place itself. Not that Mr Wolfe fails to live up to its reputation, far from it. It’s just that Mr Wolfe has such a big (and good) reputation, far in excess of its small physical size.
Tucked away on Montpelier Place on the Hove side of Brighton, it’s on the next street back from the main east-west artery, the Western Road. A stone’s throw from Small Batch Coffee’s lovely Norfolk Square branch, Mr Wolfe is just a little off the beaten track, making it a quiet alternative to many of Brighton’s bustling coffee shops.
This does mean that you have to track it down, but, on the plus side, it means that everyone who comes in really wants to be there, which all contributes to a friendly, neighbourhood atmosphere. It’s like popping around to a mate’s for (really good) coffee and some excellent home-made cake. To push the metaphor a little further, Mr Wolfe’s a mate who’ll also make you sandwiches or poached eggs, plus he’ll do you brunch at the weekend.
July 2017: Mr Wolfe has closed, but has been replaced with Stoney Point, still serving Monmouth Coffee. Thanks to Nick and Mike Stanbridge for the heads up.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
There’s not a lot to Mr Wolfe, but what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in all other departments. Essentially it’s a cube, its deep recessed door sitting between two windows that stretch almost from the floor to the ceiling. This means that it’s very bright inside, and, thanks to lots of bare light bulbs, it’s just as bright when the sun’s gone down.
Stepping inside, the door is sufficiently recessed that you’re pretty much stepping into the counter which occupies the back of the store, running almost its full width. There’s a small gap to the left which gives access to the stairs, although these, which run for about two-thirds of the width of the store, only lead up to the toilet. However, to the right, this leaves space for a little kitchen which extends behind the espresso machine.
The counter itself is a wooden affair, mostly taken up by Mr Wolfe’s most famous output, its cake. Indeed, I first heard about Mr Wolfe in the context of its cake. This was on my first visit to Brighton, when almost everyone I spoke to told me about the wonderful cakes at Mr Wolfe. I’m just sorry it has taken me another 18 months to get around to visiting in person.
There’s not much seating at Mr Wolfe, and most of what there is feels as if it’s behind you in the two bay windows. There’s a padded seat running along the left-hand wall and into the first of the two bay windows. This has three small, round tables, each with a low stool. Opposite it, against the right-hand wall, is a two-person padded bench with its own table, while the window has a two-seat window-bar. In all, you could probably sit 12 people inside if everyone shares. There’s also a bench outside the right-hand window if that sort of thing takes your fancy.
The décor of Mr Wolfe is very simple: black, with the exception of the right-hand wall, which is white. The contrast is striking and effective, especially as the menu is chalked in white on the wall behind the counter. Despite being small, the high ceilings and large windows make Mr Wolfe feel spacious and roomy.
Mr Wolfe uses Monmouth coffee, with a commendably simple espresso-based menu (one price for without milk, one price for with milk, with 20p off for a single shot). My piccolo was very good, with just the right ratio of milk to coffee, allowing the taste of the coffee to come through good and strong. The milk was also expertly steamed.
You’ll find the owner, Travis, behind the espresso machine, while his partner makes all the cakes, with the bread and pastries bought in from local suppliers. Alternatively, you might meet Zak (who I ran into at Bond Street Coffee), who works at Mr Wolfe three days a week.
The cake, by the way, is the real draw. There is an excellent choice and, unlike some coffee shops where one stands out, I could have happily had everything that was on offer at Mr Wolfe. I eventually settled on a slice of orange blossom and pistachio cake with mascarpone icing. This was wonderfully rich, but without being the slightest bit sickly, the perfect accompaniment to my coffee.
December 2015: Mr Wolfe won the 2015 Coffee Spot Best Cake Award.
|15 MONTPELIER PLACE • BRIGHTON • BN1 3BF|
|www.mrwolfe.co.uk||+44 (0) 7972 252787|
|Monday||08:00 – 17:00||Roaster||Monmouth (espresso only)|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 17:00||Seating||Tables, Window Bar, Bench (outside)|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 17:00||Food||Sandwiches, Cake, Brunch (weekends only)|
|Thursday||08:00 – 17:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||08:00 – 17:00||Cards||Cash Only|
|Saturday||10:00 – 17:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||10:00 – 17:00||Power||Limited|
|Chain||No||Visits||30th March 2015|
If you enjoyed this Coffee Spot, check out the rest of Brighton and Hove’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Brighton & Hove.
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