G!RO (COVID-19 Update)

The sign hanging outside G!RO in Esher.On Tuesday last week, I got on a train again, this time heading to Surbiton and The Press Room, stopping along the way at G!RO in Esher. Both coffee shops had recently reopened for sit-in customers and I was keen to see how they compared to the likes of Notes and Attendant, which I had visited in London the week before.

I was last at what was then G!RO Cycles in 2015. Like The Press Room, it’s undergone quite a few changes since then. Some of these are clearly recent, allowing for safe reopening during COVID-19, while others, such as the large outdoor seating area, clearly predate that. There’s also been a subtle rebranding, with G!RO Cycles becoming G!RO, although you shouldn’t read too much into the dropping of the word “cycles” from the name. This is still very much a cycle-friendly café as well as a bike shop.

G!RO currently has an espresso-based coffee menu, plus batch-brew filter, although its extensive pour-over offering is unavailable for now. All the coffee is from Workshop, with a range of retail bags for sale. If you’re hungry, there’s a limited all-day brunch selection, backed up by sandwiches and a large range of cake.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • G!RO in Esher, with its new (to me, at least) outdoor seating area off to the right.
  • The new outdoor seating area, seen approaching from out of town...
  • ... with G!RO beyond. The last time I was here, the outside tables were in front of the...
  • ... windows, space which is now occupied by the cycle parking (which used to be inside).
  • The new outside seating area, seen from the other side.
  • Nice sign.
  • When you go inside, you get the first impact of the new COVID-19 regime.
  • Signs on the floor tell you where to stand to maintain the correct distance...
  • ... while other signs tell you what to do. Once you have ordered, you can find a seat.
  • There's seating in the windows at the front.
  • This two-person window-bar is to the right of the door...
  • ... while this tall, square, two-person cocktail table on the other side is more secluded.
  • There's a four-person, square table behind this...
  • ... then the rest of the seating marches off into the distance along the left-hand wall.
  • There are two more of the tall, square cocktail tables...
  • ... and then two long, thin tables beyond that, the last of them parallel to the back wall.
  • All this seating is opposite the counter. You used to order here, before COVID-19.
  • A view of the seating looking back from the end of the counter.
  • However, there's more. A wide opening in the back wall leads to a large alcove...
  • ... with another four-person table and a flight of stairs.
  • The view looking back from the top of the stairs.
  • There's another table up here, a three-person one...
  • ... as well as the cycling part of G!RO, including clothing...
  • ... bikes (and KeepCups!)...
  • ... and more bike-related equipment (and more KeepCups!).
  • Another bike.
  • A welcome sight in the time of COVID-19: hand-sanitiser.
  • Let's go back downstairs.
  • There's more merchandising on the way down, including retail bags of coffee...
  • ... while you'll find a final set on the wall to the right, just before the counter.
  • As well as the bike, there's more coffee-related kit, includiung more KeepCups.
  • I liked the pictures hanging on the exposed brick wall behind the tables...
  • ... while, naturally, there has to be a light-fitting shot.
  • This single, bare bulb hangs below the skylight...
  • ... which stands above the stairs at the back.
  • You order at the front of the counter, which has been equipped with Perspex screens...
  • ... and turned around so that pretty much everything faces the front.
  • There's a good selection of cake (difficult to photograph behind the Perspex).
  • The more extensive menu has been replaced with this cut-down all-day brunch menu.
  • The coffee is espresso-based, plus batch-brew, with this, from Workshop, in the hopper.
  • I had the avocado toast, which was excellent...
  • ... as well as a cortado which came in an espresso cup...
  • ... which I followed with a shot of the espresso, which is where I'll leave you.
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G!RO is on the north side of the A307, which runs through the centre of Esher, close to Sandown Park Racecourse. At the end of a row of shops, there’s a large outdoor seating area to the right, set back and slightly above the busy street. This is new since my 2015 visit, when the outdoor seating was in front of the windows. Now you’ll find cycle parking in front of the left-hand window, the space in front of the right-hand one left clear.

You enter via the central glass door and are immediately guided to your right, where there’s a large, open space between the window and the front of the counter, which occupies much of the right-hand wall. There are stickers on the floor showing where to stand when queuing so that you maintain the correct social distance, while a bottle of hand sanitiser stands on a pillar just in front of the counter. When it’s your turn, step up to the Perspex screen to order and pay. If you’re staying in, you’re asked to take a seat and the staff will bring your drinks and/or food to you when it’s ready.

There’s quite a bit of choice inside, starting with the two-person window-bar to the right of the door, although you’ll have a constant stream of customers going past if you sit there. A better alternative is the tall, square two-person cocktail table in the left-hand window. The bulk of the seating lines the left-hand wall, opposite the counter, starting with a four-person table and followed by two more tall, square two-person cocktail tables. Finally, there are a pair of long, thin tables, the first against the wall, while the second, which is beyond the end of the counter, has the space to run perpendicular to it.

Beyond this is a wide opening in right-hand part of the back wall, leading to a deep alcove, lit by a skylight. A four-person table is tucked in here, but, even better, a flight of stairs runs from right-to-left, leading to a raised room at the back. Here you’ll find clothing, cycling gear and bikes, but there’s also a long, thin, three-person table overlooking the stairs, the last of the indoor seating.

G!RO has undergone a major facelift since I was last there, so I’m not sure what changes are specifically for COVID-19 and what came before. The biggest difference is the seating: G!RO used to have multiple sets of sofas and plush armchairs, but these have gone, making way (pre-COVID) for more tables, part of a wider expansion of the seating.

Like many coffee shops that have reopened during COVID-19, G!RO has a reduced offering, starting with an all-day brunch menu featuring various toast, avocado on toast and porridge-based dishes. I had the avocado on toast, which was excellent, a generous helping of avocado on a single slice of toast, topped by a very healthy dose of greens. I was also pleased to see that G!RO is using proper plates, cutlery and cups.

Back in 2015, G!RO used Beanberry Coffee, but switched to Workshop about two years ago, using the Yacuanquer single-origin from Colombia while I was there. I started with a cortado which was served commendably short in an espresso cup. The coffee was really bright and acidic, which provided quite a contrast to the milk. Normally I prefer a cortado over a larger drink, but in this instance, I think the coffee might have suited a flat white better. I followed this with the Yacuanquer as an espresso, which I preferred, picking up more of the coffee’s fruitiness.

December 2020: G!RO was a runner-up for the 2020 Best Outdoor Seating Award.

www.girocycles.com +44 (0) 1372 701701
Monday 07:30 – 15:00 Roaster Workshop (espresso + batch-brew)
Tuesday 07:30 – 15:00 Seating Tables, Window-bars; Table (outside)
Wednesday 07:30 – 15:00 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Sandwiches, Cake
Thursday 07:30 – 15:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 07:30 – 15:00 Payment Card Only
Saturday 07:30 – 15:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 07:30 – 15:00 Power Limited
Chain No Visits Original: 24th November 2015
Update: 21st July 2020

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4 thoughts on “G!RO (COVID-19 Update)

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