Slowly but surely, London Fields, beyond trendy Shoreditch on the commuter lines out of Liverpool Street, is becoming a coffee destination. Long-time home to stalwarts Climpson and Sons on Broadway Market, and more recently, with the roastery under the railway arches, it’s been joined in recent years by Terrone, at Netil Market, and the latest arrival, the well-regarded Silhouette. It’s also where London coffee-and-cycling giants, Look Mum No Hands!, chose to open its second permanent branch on Mare Street.
For those familiar with the original Look Mum No Hands! on Old Street or the South Bank Pop-up (back again for another summer), the branch on Mare Street will hold no surprises, serving up the same winning menu of Square Mile coffee, craft beer, substantial food (when the kitchen’s not closed!) and bikes. There are fewer bikes than at Old Street, the emphasis here slightly more on the coffee, beer and food. There’s also less outside seating, the selection limited to a little bench outside the side door and a pair of picnic tables on the broad pavement out front. However, to compensate for these minor shortcomings, the interior’s even bigger than the substantial Old Street and the pace more relaxed.
January 2016: Look Mum No Hands! has had to close as the landlord has redeveloped the building.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
The latest addition to the Look Mum No Hands! cycling-and-coffee empire is on Mare Street, between Cambridge Heath and London Fields stations. Set back from the relatively busy road, it’s in a building with the delightful name of The Trampery. Occupying a substantial chunk of the ground floor, there doesn’t seem to be much to Look Mum No Hands! from the street. A modest pair of windows, each with its own picnic table, flank the glass door, while there’s a passageway down the right-hand side, which, although initially unpromising, leads to a side door and what I took to be secure, under-cover cycle-parking.
Stepping inside, however, you soon appreciate that this Look Mum No Hands! is huge. While it’s not very wide, it goes a long way back, plus it’s wider than it looks, the counter being tucked away (if anything that big can be described as “tucked away”) on the left, beyond the window. Seating options abound, including, in the front part of the store (yes, there’s a back part too), bench seats either side of the door (each with its own pair of two-person tables), a long, eight-person bar against the right-hand wall and an equally long communal table running up the centre.
The counter occupies the left-hand side of the front half, starting just beyond the window-bench with a small display of retail products. Next comes the iconic Kees van der Westen espresso machine, followed by the till, cake, beer and food.
Beyond this there’s a wide gap in what could have been the back wall. This can still be closed off by curtains, but is typically left open, giving access to the back half. Doors to the left lead into the rest of The Trumpery, giving access to the toilets, which Look Mum No Hands! shares with the building’s other tenants. To the right, there’s the side door, which leads out into the passageway. There’s a little bit of seating here, a two- or three- person table with a bench against the left-hand wall, and a conventional two-person table on the right. However, the bulk of the seating’s in the back part proper.
There’s another long bar, this time along the left-hand wall, plus another long, wide communal table, this time on the right, which comes with its own padded bench. Two rows of two- and four-person tables run down the middle, the seating rounded off with some two-person tables against the back wall.
When it comes to coffee, Look Mum No Hands! offers a concise menu from which cappuccinos and lattes are curiously absent. There’s Square Mile’s Red Brick seasonal espresso blend, plus a guest (Square Mile’s Sweetshop blend during my visit) and our single-origins available through V60 or Aeropress. I was already over-caffeinated from visiting Climpson and Sons, so went with a decaf piccolo. I’ve found Square Mile’s decaf to be a bit hit-and-miss, but this was excellent, the best Square Mile decaf I’ve had. Very smooth and with excellent milk, the coffee really held up well, the flavour coming nicely through the milk.
The other thing I’ve found Look Mum No Hands! excels at is food. I’m assuming this holds at Mare Street, but since I cunningly arrived after the kitchen had closed (it had run out of food!) I can’t actually comment…
|THE TRAMPERY • 125-127 MARE STREET • LONDON • E8 3RH|
|www.lookmumnohands.com||+44 (0) 7985 200472|
|Monday||08:00 – 20:00||Roaster||Square Mile (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 20:00||Seating||Tables, Bar|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 22:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Cake, Supper (Weds – Sat)|
|Thursday||08:00 – 22:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||08:00 – 22:00||Cards||Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||09:00 – 22:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||09:30 – 20:00||Power||Yes|
|Chain||Local||Visits||22nd March 2015|
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