It feels like only yesterday that I was anxiously waiting for the opening of Short + Stout in Hoole, on the other side of the railway tracks from Chester station, but it was actually just over two years ago, in June 2018, that it first opened its doors. Occupying an interestingly-shaped building on a narrow corner at the end of two terraces, it’s pretty small and I worried about how it would cope, reopening during COVID-19. Similarly-sized coffee shops in Chester, such as Moss Coffee, have returned for takeaway only, while Obscure Coffee has yet to reopen. I feared that Short + Stout, with its focus on food, would not fare so well as a takeaway-only operation.
Fortunately, my fears have been misplaced. Short + Stout reopened for takeaway in June, adding its seating areas in July, when the COVID-19 restrictions were relaxed in England. Even better, it still offers its full breakfast, brunch and lunch menus, along with coffee from Ancoats Coffee Co. in Manchester, all served on/in proper plates and cups (like everywhere I visited in Chester). There’s seating upstairs and in the (new for me) basement, offering full table service, while there’s a dedicated queue for takeaway.
You can see what else I found after the gallery.
Originally, I’d planned to visit Short + Stout for lunch, but it looked really busy, with a queue at the door, so I went over to Little Yellow Pig instead, returning to Short + Stout later on that afternoon when it was quieter (this is always a dilemma when visiting Hoole: unless I have two lunches, I’m always going to miss out. Life can be unfair at times!).
There have been a few changes since my previous visit in 2018. For starters, a pair of benches have appeared under the window on South Avenue, although the major changes are inside. Short + Stout always made great use of its limited space, fitting a surprisingly number of tables in upstairs. Obviously, with the onset of COVID-19, most of these had to go, including the two tables in the window on the right-hand side, which have made way for a one-way system for takeaway customers.
Turning to your left, the pair of two-person tables in the window have been combined to one four-person one, although the four-person table in the corner alcove has remained. If that was all the seating, then you might well question whether it was worth the effort, but what I hadn’t realised is that Short + Stout now has basement seating as well (the basement first opened in March 2019), adding much needed extra capacity.
A door in the left-hand wall gives access to the stairs, which run steeply down towards the back of Short + Stout before turning by 180° to deposit you in a nearly-rectangular space roughly under the upstairs seating area. There are three more well-separated tables down here, each capable of seating four people on benches, two either side. The first is to your left, against the back wall, while the second is directly ahead of you, with the third off to your left in the far corner. There are menus down here and the staff will come down to take your order, but it’s probably polite to order upstairs at the counter when you come in (providing you know what you want, of course).
Talking of which, when you enter, you’re faced with an L-shaped set of tables, parallel to the right-hand side and the counter, which runs across the back of the Short + Stout. Signs at the front of the first table point right for takeaway and left for sit-in. There’s also hand sanitiser, which you’re encouraged to use. If you opt for takeaway, you enter the one-way system (one customer/group at a time) which takes you along the counter, where you order and pay before exiting at the far end.
I, however, decided to sit in, being shown to the table in the window. Having already had lunch, I opted for a shot of Ancoats Coffee’s Warehouse City and a slice of the elderflower and lemon drizzle cake. This was a lovely, light crumbly cake with a clear, but subtle lemon flavour and a sweet topping (the drizzle part). The Warehouse City, a naturally-processed Brazilian single-origin from Daniel Barbosa and his Cachoeria Farm, was just as good, bright, with a touch of fruity acidity.
And then it was off to the station to catch my train.
December 2020: Short + Stout has won the 2020 Coffee Spot with the Best Basement Award.
|3A ERMINE ROAD • CHESTER • CH2 3PN|
|https://www.facebook.com/SHORT-STOUT||+44 (0) 1244 343378|
|Monday||08:00 – 16:00||Roaster||Ancoats (espresso only)|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 16:00||Seating||Tables|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 16:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Cake|
|Thursday||08:00 – 16:00||Service||Table|
|Friday||08:00 – 16:00||Payment||Cards + Cash|
|Saturday||09:00 – 16:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||10:00 – 14:00||Power||Yes|
|Chain||No||Visits||Original: 29th September 2018
Update: 10th August 2020
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