Look Mum No Hands! Mare Street

A flat white, with lovely latte art, in a classic white bowl cup, with the Look Mum No Hands! logo on the frontSlowly 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. 

  • Look Mum No Hands!: the second permanent location on Mare Street, London Fields...
  • ... in the delightfully-named 'The Trampery'.
  • A reminder of older times... and a good, modern re-use!
  • Look Mum No Hands! in more detail.
  • One of the two picnic tables: I love the reuse of the beer crates as stools!
  • The side passage at Look Mum No Hands, leading, I believe to the cycle-parking.
  • The Sunday I was there, A-board was going squarely for the brunch market!
  • I loved this mural down the side passage at Look Mum No Hands!
  • There's a ramp up to the side door & an outside seating area that doubles as a smoking room.
  • However, if you come in the front door, this is the view: counter to your left...
  • Seating to your right: window seats, communal table and bar against the far wall.
  • There's also this windw bench to the left as you come in.
  • If you come in the side door, this is the view (of the front part) of Look Mum No Hands!.
  • A slightly wider panoramic view...
  • The bar down the wall, plus the condiments and water station at the end.
  • Looking the other way, past the doors and into the back room.
  • There's seating here too: this 2/3-person table on the left, by the doors into The Trampery...
  • ... and this two-person square table to the right by the side door.
  • However, the rest of the seating is back here.
  • There's a long, communal table by the bench up against the windows...
  • ... plus tables down the middle, and a high bar against the left-hand wall.
  • One of the tables in the middle.
  • Look Mum No Hands! has always had interesting ceilings... Glitter ball, anyone?
  • Lots of bare bulbs provide lots of light. And interesting reflections in the windows.
  • I think that this is decoration rather than a mad lamp-shade!
  • The lighting is just as interesting in the front half of Look Mum No Hands!.
  • These hang above the counter...
  • ... while these hang by the opposite wall, along with an obligatory bike.
  • The lights aren't just confined to those hanging from the ceiling...
  • As well as being a coffee shop and cycling place, Look Mum No Hands! is a community hub.
  • The cycling roots of Look Mum No Hands! can be seen in the cycling kit for sale...
  • ... which makes convenient use of the pillars.
  • The coffee kit isn't left out though.
  • However, let's get down to business. The counter beckons.
  • There are soft/cold drinks in the fridge...
  • .. as well as beer by the pint, half-pint and two-thirds pint! Wine? White or red?
  • The beer's on tap. And there's fruit too.
  • Food is another of Look Mum No Hands! strong points...
  • ... unless you arrive late(ish) one Sunday evening when the food's all gone!
  • All that was left was cake. I wasn't really looking for cake...
  • ... although the red velvet cake looked particularly tempting.
  • Someone else succumbed. And had a flat white... So tempting...
  • The coffee (and tea) menu... No cappucinos or lattes I see. That's okay: I wanted a piccolo!
  • The guest espresso and (four) filter options are listed on the bottom.
  • The lovely lines of the Kees van der Westen espresso machine...
  • ... which is worth a second look!
  • The grinders are behind it on the counter: house, guest & decaf espresso, plus EK-43 (filter).
  • My lovely decaf piccolo. Best one yet!
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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…

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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7 thoughts on “Look Mum No Hands! Mare Street

  1. The coffee /bike combo is here to stay. Our edgcumbes roastery coffee shop is going to be opening at the weekends to offer a pit stop and caffeine fix to the many cyclists who pass our doors!

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