Short + Stout

The Short + Stout logo from above the door of the shop in Hoole.For the longest time, Chester, closest city to Holywell, the town where I grew up, has been poorly served by speciality coffee. However, in recent months a spate of new openings have joined stalwarts such as The Barista’s and Jaunty Goat in the city centre and Little Yellow Pig, out in Hoole, which is where you’ll find today’s Coffee Spot, Short + Stout.

Occupying an interestingly-shaped building on a narrow corner at the end of two terraces in a relatively quiet, residential area, it’s not a huge space. Despite this, Short + Stout acts like a much larger coffee shop, offering breakfast, brunch and lunch menus, complete with full table service, a clear sign of its Melbourne roots, which is where the owners, Sarah and Will, first got their inspiration.

The coffee is from nearby Ancoats Coffee Co. in Manchester (Sarah having known Manny, from Ancoats, when they were both working in Melbourne). During my visit it was espresso only, with the ubiquitous Warehouse City blend joined by Ancoats’ seasonal decaf. However, Short + Stout, which had been serving cold brew over the summer, was in the process to switching to offering guest roasters on batch-brew alongside the espresso-based drinks.

July 2020: Short + Stout has opened its seating areas, having reopened for takeaway service in June. You can see what I made of it when I visited in August.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • On a quiet, residential side street in Chester, on the other side of the railway tracks...
  • ... is this interesting building on the corner of Ermine Road (right) & South Avenue (left).
  • This is the view along the Ermine Road side...
  • ... while this is the view along the South Avenue side. It is, of course, Short + Stout.
  • This, by the way, is when I first visited in June, exactly one week before it opened!
  • Let's go in, shall we?
  • There's not a lot to Short + Stout. This table is just beyond to the door on the right...
  • ... followed by this four-person table. Both are in the large window on the right-hand side.
  • Next comes the counter at the back, a relatively modest affair...
  • ...behind which is a little niche with the espresso machine. There's a kitchen beyond that.
  • The left-hand wall has an opening for the stairs to the basement...
  • ... then comes the rest of the seating along the front window/wall.
  • There's a row of three tables (there's one more on the left by the door)...
  • ... plus this wonderful booth in the corner.
  • Short + Stout offers table service, so you'll be presented with menus and a glass of water.
  • The views out of the windows are great if you like brick-built terraced houses.
  • There's a similar view along Ermine Road. The bricks look lovely in the afternoon sun.
  • The doorway in the left-hand wall leads down to the toilets in the basement...
  • ... which is the only reason to go down, but there are plans to open up the basement.
  • Short + Stout has a couple of retail shelves above the doorway...
  • ... with the usual coffee-shop related products, plus the North of England Coffee Guide.
  • There's another retail shelf on the wall high up in the booth.
  • Despite two large windows, there are plenty of light fittings, including this row on the left.
  • There are more lights on the right...
  • ... although my favourite is this one hanging in the middle of the ceiling...
  • ... seen here from below.
  • So, let's get down to business. The counter is at the back, opposite the door.
  • There are some tempting cakes on display here...
  • ... while you'll also find menus, although since it's table service, they'll be brought to you.
  • There's the food menu, with breakfast, brunch and lunch...
  • ... and the drinks menu, with coffee, tea, other hot drinks and cold drinks.
  • You even get a discount if you bring your own cup.
  • The espresso machine is in this triangular niche behind the counter, serving Ancoats...
  • ... standard espresso blend, plus decaf, although batch-brew should be along soon.
  • Time to put the barista to work.
  • I had a flat white in a classic tulip cup.
  • Nice latte art.
  • I was also there for lunch, going for the corn + cauliflower fritters from the brunch menu.
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In a fit of bad timing, I first ventured out to Hoole (to visit Little Yellow Pig) exactly one week before Short + Stout opened, although Sarah and Will, had done such a good job of creating a stir on social media that it was already firmly on my radar, so I made sure to return last month to check it out.

Just north of Hoole Way, on the other side of the train tracks from Chester Station, Short + Stout occupies a narrow corner at the end of Ermine Road and South Avenue, a pair of relatively quiet residential streets. The result is a rather odd-shaped building, effectively a wedge, with the door in the narrow end, right on the corner. That said, it’s laid out so that it’s actually a square with a slice taken off the right-hand side. However you describe it, the interior’s really bright, with windows on two sides, aided by clean, white-painted walls and ceiling.

The narrow counter is at the back, opposite to the door, till on the left and cakes in the middle. An opening in the back wall leads to a small nook which holds the La Marzocco Linea espresso machine, beyond which, in a separate room, is the kitchen. An opening in the left-hand wall gives access to the stairs to the basement, where you’ll find the toilets, but, sadly, no additional seating, although that may change. When they took on the place, there was plenty of work to do, with Will, who is a builder by trade, fitting it all out. There are plans to fit out the basement to provide additional seating, but Sarah and Will sensibly decided to open first, rather than do everything in one go.

Back upstairs, there are two high, pedestal tables directly ahead of you, between the door and counter, occupying the window on the right, overlooking Ermine Street. The closest table to the door seats two, while the one at the back by the counter seats four. The only other seating is along the front wall to your left, a wooden bench lining the window facing onto South Avenue. This has three low, square two-person tables with chairs opposite the bench, while in the corner, beyond the window, tucked in by the stairs, is a booth with a four-person table, wooden benches on either side.

Since Short + Stout offers table service, you’ll be greeted at the door, with a bottle of water and glasses brought to the table, along with menus if you are eating. I’d come for lunch and although very tempted by the poached eggs on toast, went with the corn and cauliflower fritters which I found intriguing. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but what I got was a stack of corn and cauliflower fritters, interleaved by layers of tomato chutney and pickled red onion, all topped by grilled halloumi and mashed avocado, drizzled with a mint and lime yoghurt sauce. The result was as delicious as it was unexpected!

I paired this with a rich, creamy flat white in a tulip cup, made with Ancoats’ Warehouse Blend. After a month in America, it was nice to get back to my familiar style of flat white, the coffee combining with the milk to provide a sweet finish.

December 2018: Short + Stout has won the 2018 Best Breakfast Award.

March 2019: Short + Stout has opened its basement, which now provides some much-needed additional seating.

3A ERMINE ROAD • CHESTER • CH2 3PN +44 (0) 1244 343378
Monday 07:30 – 17:00 Roaster Ancoats (espresso only)
Tuesday 07:30 – 17:00 Seating Tables
Wednesday 07:30 – 17:00 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Cake
Thursday 07:30 – 17:00 Service Table
Friday 07:30 – 17:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 08:00 – 16:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 09:30 – 14:00 Power Yes
Chain No Visits 29th September 2018

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