Short + Stout (COVID-19 Update)

The Short + Stout logo from above the door of the shop in Hoole.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.

  • Short + Stout, in its familiar spot on a residential corner in Hoole.
  • That's new though (since I was here in 2018): a pair of benches under the window.
  • Let's go in, where more changes are immediately apparent.
  • The tables that were in the window on the right have been replaced by a one-way system.
  • In case you were wondering, these are the tables that werereplaced (from my 2018 visit).
  • Meanwhile, to the left, the two two-person tables in the window when I visited in 2018...
  • ... have been replaced by a single, four-person table, although...
  • ... the four-person table in the alcove in the corner is still there (photo from 2018).
  • A view of the counter and one-way system from my table (the one in the window).
  • However, there's more. Through this doorway in the left-hand wall, stairs head down.
  • These just led to the toilet when I was here in 2018, but now, at the bottom...
  • ... where you double back on yourself, there's a doorway to a basement seating area!
  • There are three four-person tables down here. This one is opposite the door...
  • ... while this is to your left, against the back wall. The third one was occupied, so there's...
  • ... no photo, but it's against the left-hand wall, which is off to my right in this picture.
  • There's a neat set-up down here, including hand sanitiser as you enter...
  • ... plus menus on the wall.
  • It's all fairly minimalist, but I did like this picture on the wall.
  • Obligatory light-fitting shot (from upstairs). I remember being fascinated by this last time!
  • Time to go back upstairs.
  • The view from the door at the top of the stairs, looking back to the main door.
  • Talking of which, this is the view when you first step inside.
  • The handy signs show you which way to go: right, for takeaway, left to be seated.
  • Always remembering, of course, to keep two metres apart.
  • Talking of signs, note that Short + Stout has reduced opening hours at the moment.
  • If you are ordering takeaway, go past the tables to the counter at the back...
  • ... where you'll find the cakes, behind the now nearly obligatory Perspex screens.
  • The card reader, for payment, is off to the left, along with the menus...
  • ... although these are also displayed on the table as you come in.
  • I decided to sit-in, getting the table by the window. I was there for coffee and cake...
  • ... ordering a slice of the elderflower and lemon drizzle cake...
  • ... and a shot of the Warehouse City espresso, which is where I'll leave you.
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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 +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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