I conclude my very brief tour of Surbiton’s speciality coffee scene (which started last week with Surbeanton and not forgetting The Press Room) with Wags N Tales. Located on Brighton Road, it’s many things: coffee shop by day, bar by night, vegetarian/vegan restaurant (11:00 – 21:00) and all-day dog-friendly venue. It’s also, by speciality coffee shop standards, huge, with a wide range of seating across multiple interior spaces, along with four large tables on the pavement outside.
Surbeaton uses local roaster Chimney Fire Coffee, with Chimney Fire’s Classic Espresso joined by a decaf option from Hampshire’s Moon Roast. When it comes to food, there’s an all-day brunch menu, plus burgers, hot dogs and various specials, all of which is vegetarian, with plenty of vegan options. This is backed up with sandwiches to go, plenty of cakes and a selection of dog snacks and treats. And, of course, there’s a well-stocked bar, with a large cocktail menu, a range of wine by the glass or bottle, various spirits and draught beer. For now, you order online (there are QR Codes on every table) and pay either at the table when your order is delivered, or at the counter before you leave.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Wags N Tales opened in 2016, although me until February 2020 to get there (this was the same day I failed to visit Surbeanton which you can see across the road, peeking out from behind its tree). I was more successful with Wags N Tales, but it was very crowded, so I held back on my write-up, planning on revisiting when I returned to catch Surbeanton in a month or two’s time. Then COVID-19 struck, and a month or two turned into a year and a half…
Wag N Tales is just north of the railway lines on the western side of the busy Brighton Road, almost directly opposite Victoria Road. If you want to sit outside, there are four large tables with benches in a line on the pavement, perpendicular to the windows, which, in the summer, can be folded back on the right-hand side, offering an alternative way in from the door, which is on the far left-hand side.
Using the door, you find yourself in front of the counter, which dominates the front part of the left-hand side of Wags N Tales. From the inside, it’s clear that Wags N Tales occupies a pair of spaces, with the dividing wall running down the centre. However, with two openings in the wall, it’s easy to move between the two, while at the back, things are even more open.
The space is roughly split into bar (front of the left-hand side), dining (front of the right-hand side) and café (at the back). This delineation isn’t rigorously enforced, by the way: on both my visits, I ended up at a table in the bar area, once for lunch and the second time for an espresso. However, if it’s busy, I suspect that no-one will thank you for nursing an espresso at one of the large tables in the dining area!
The bar area is dominated by the counter, which runs almost the full length of the exposed brick of the left-hand wall. It’s set back a little from the door, leaving just enough space for a set of retail shelves with the coffee and tea menu above. The cakes are on display at the front, but otherwise the first three-quarters of the counter is very much bar-territory, with the coffee right at the back.
There’s quite a bit of seating here, with a four-person bar in the window to the right of the door, followed by a row of tall, round cocktail-style tables, each with three square, wooden stools running opposite the counter. There were five of these on my first visit, but COVID-19 restrictions have now thinned the number down to four.
There’s further seating in a low-ceilinged space at the back, which was once probably two separate rooms, one for each space, but these have been knocked though, joining the left- and right-hand sides together. There’s a range of tables and armchairs back here, although things have been changed around a lot since my first visit.
Lastly, in the front part of the right-hand side, another three of the tall, round cocktail-style tables form a line in the window, with the rest of the space occupied by tables of various shapes and sizes. For now, three four-person tables line the right-hand wall, two more fill the space between the two openings in the dividing wall, while there’s a six-person round table in the middle. Finally, there are two small, square four-person tables at the back.
On my first visit in February 2020, I had the Wag N Tales special breakfast for lunch. Consisting of two poached eggs, homemade beans, spicy potatoes, tomato and two sausages (one vegetarian, one vegan), plus a generous helping of sourdough toast, it was very tasty and extremely filling. On my return, I’d just eaten at Surbeanton, so settled for a nicely-balanced, well-rounded shot of the Classic Espresso from Chimney Fire Coffee, a washed coffee from a cooperative in Peru.
There is a second Wags N Tales in Twickenham which opened in January 2020.
|7-9 BRIGHTON ROAD • SURBITON • KT6 5LX|
|https://wagsntales.com||+44 (0) 208 390 9617|
|Monday||08:00 – 23:00||Roaster||Chimney Fire (espresso) + Moonroast (decaf)|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 23:00||Seating||Tables, Window Bars, Sofas; Tables (outside)|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 23:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Cake|
|Thursday||08:00 – 23:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||08:00 – 02:00||Payment||Cards + Cash|
|Saturday||08:00 – 02:00||Wifi||Free|
|Sunday||08:00 – 23:00||Power||Yes|
|Chain||Local||Visits||11th February 2020, 15th June 2021|
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