Another Shrewsbury gem, I discovered The Bird’s Nest thanks to the talented Cherie Jerrard. I’d come to see Cherie Did This, an exhibition of Cherie’s fascinating café illustrations at the Shrewsbury Coffeehouse. Afterwards, we met up for another tour of some of Cherie’s favourite Shrewsbury coffee shops.
The Bird’s Nest is in Shrewsbury’s Market Hall, which was built in 1965 (making it slightly older than me!) and is out of keeping with everything around it. However, its unappealing concrete exterior hides a delightful interior, particularly when you get to the back of the second floor, which is where you’ll find The Bird’s Nest, surrounded by market stalls.
It’s an interesting space, full of an eclectic mix of furniture. If I said it felt a little like sitting in a vintage store, I’d mean it in a nice way. The layout’s wonderfully confusing, with the kitchen in one corner, the coffee counter in the opposite corner and various other bits and pieces scattered around the edges. Not that any of this matters since there’s full table service. There’s a fairly standard espresso menu based around the Bon Bon blend from Hundred House, bags of cake and, if you don’t arrive after the kitchen’s closed, full breakfast and lunch menus.
I first met Cherie Jerrard at last year’s Cup North, although we had corresponded beforehand over a period of a couple of months. Cherie is a talented illustrator who has turned her hand to capturing scenes of every day café culture. I find her work endlessly fascinating and very much a contrast to what I do with my photo galleries, although we each, in our own ways, try to tell a story.
I am a very literal photographer: I tend to take pictures to show you what something looks like. Cherie goes one step further with her work; in a single illustration, she captures multiple aspects of a scene. I appreciate this isn’t a great description of what Cherie does, but if it was easy to describe, she wouldn’t have to go to all the trouble of drawing it…
I’ve been following Cherie on social media for the last few months, admiring her work on twitter, Instagram and on her blog, but I’d never seen the works in the flesh so to speak. So, when Cherie arranged to have her work exhibited at the Shrewsbury Coffeehouse, I knew I had to take a look in person…
Shrewsbury’s speciality coffee scene has come a long way since I visited in September 2013, when the delightful Shrewsbury Coffeehouse was the only game in town. Since then there have been several notable newcomers, particularly in 2015, when today’s Coffee Spot, Ginger & Co. Coffee, opened its doors on Princess Street. I am, by the way, indebted to the talented Cherie Jerrard (if you haven’t seen her coffee shop sketches, you should definitely check them out), both for the invitation to make a return visit Shrewsbury and for drawing my attention to Ginger & Co.
Ginger & Co. sits on the ground floor of a lovely old building, occupying an L-shaped space, with seating at the front and the counter along the top part of the L. Beyond this, up a couple of steps and through a narrow doorway, is the back room, a long, thin space, flooded with natural light from the transparent ceiling.
Ginger & Co. has a standard espresso-based menu, plus a single-origin on pour-over from Herefordshire’s Method Roastery. This is supplemented by loose-leaf tea from Brew Tea Co, along with an interesting selection of sandwiches and cakes, all prepared in the “espresso-sized” kitchen at the back.
Close enough to Shrewsbury Station to be worth running out for a quick visit when changing trains, the Shrewsbury Coffeehouse is a delightful place. In fact, it’s so delightful, it’s worth making sure you have about an hour between trains so you can pay it a proper visit!
Many things mark the Shrewsbury Coffeehouse as something special, starting with the friendly, welcoming staff who add so much to the atmosphere. Then there’s the space itself, bright and airy, with lots of seating options and a cosy basement for those winter days when you just want to spend all snuggling up with a cup of coffee.
Which brings me to the main point of a coffeehouse, the coffee. The Shrewsbury Coffeehouse serves Has Bean. Oh well, I thought to myself, can’t have everything. Except… I really liked the Shrewsbury Coffeehouse’s house blend. That was two Has Bean espressos I liked in the space of a week! What’s the world coming to? As well as the house blend, the Shrewsbury Coffeehouse does single origin Sundays, showcasing Has Bean’s extensive range.
After all that, I had to have a slice of cake to calm me down. And excellent cake it was too!
January 2016: the talented Cherie Jerrard is displaying some of her excellent cafe illustrations at the Shrewsbury Coffeehouse until the end of February. Pop along and have a look if you can, or take a look at my pictures at the end of the gallery. You can also read a little piece that Cherie wrote about the exhibition and see what I made of it in the Saturday Supplement.