Hoxton North

London Coffee Shop Culture brought to the North of England

Established in October 2013, Hoxton North is the result of two Yorkshire folk who ended up living in London for more than a decade deciding to bring the coffeeshop culture of Hoxton back home to the North of England. Having recently celebrated their first year at the Royal Parade site in Harrogate, the cafe is enjoying a plethora of regulars from those who have followed them from their smaller beginnings to newbies who are re-finding their love of coffee.

1000062

The Royal Parade site is barley ever seen empty, as Harrogatians and tourists flood in regularly to sample the coffee that Hoxton North prides itself on. Offering coffee from specifically selected roasters to offer an ever-changing, crème de la crème portfolio to its customers, Hoxton North is definitely worth a look in for a coffee break.

Their coffee certainly consistently lives up to expectations. Having visited Hoxton North a few times, I can attest to their amazing coffee which is certainly a league above anything you’d find in chain coffee shops. However, on my most recent visit to Hoxton North, I also decided to sample some of their food. Unlike their coffees, their food was somewhat of a disappointment.

1000088.jpg

Ordering from their all-day brunch menu, I decided upon their crispy serrano ham brunch dish with crushed chilli peas on a bed of sliced, seasoned avocado and a toasted slice of sough dough bread, crowned with a poached egg. Sounds delicious doesn’t it?

Well I thought so too, when I saw this beautifully arranged dish before me. But something about it didn’t quite work for me. Although all the ingredients were really tasty in themselves, and the dish was well presented, the meal overall felt amiss. This was mostly because of on top of the cold sough dough toast, the cold sliced avocado, the cold crushed chilli peas and the cold serrano ham was the hot and freshly poached egg. It might just be me, but I prefer my meals either wholly hot, or wholly cold, not a mixed of two different temperatures. This just ended up in my food tasting not quite there, as if the chefs have tried really hard but missed the mark ever so slightly.

1000092

As well as the mismatched brunch, I also tried one of their slices of Banana and Walnut Vegan Cake. Sourced from local bakeries that particularly specialise in vegan goodies, Hoxton North is able to pride itself on tailoring to all dietary requirements. While it is great that they have vegan goodies, the cake itself was not exactly what I’d call a treat. Dry and not particularly tasty, the cake felt like something made during rations instead of locally baked. Although vegan baking isn’t the easiest niche to master, with the growing range of products and recipes out there it is becoming easier to perfect vegan treats. So there isn’t really any excuse for the blandness of this particular cake, having personally tried much tastier vegan banana cakes in similar cafes.

However, despite the disappointing food, Hoxton North still remains one of the best coffee houses in Harrogate. The staff in the cafe are brilliant and cannot be faulted on their friendly and attentive service. With some attention paid to the delivery of their food, Hoxton North wouldn’t be able to do much wrong.

Baltzersens

Yorkshire quality meets Scandinavian comfort: The Home of Hygge in Harrogate


Baltzersens in Harrogate is the go-to place for a bit of Scandinavian goodness in the heart of a town that has been wholly built upon afternoon teas. The Scandinavian inspired cafe is the manifestation of the owner’s childhood memories of eating Norwegian food at his grandma’s house. Because of this, although the cafe looks aesthetically like something out of a Nordic interior design magazine, it has an atmosphere that really exudes a hygge feeling.

The Danish culture of hygge (also known as koselig in Norway, or lagoon in Sweden) which can be roughly translated as contentment, a conscious decision to slow down and enjoy the present, has been popularised over recent years by the rise of how-to books, dedicated instagram accounts and countless Pinterest images of candles. What Balterzens successfully manages to achieve is an authentic hygge ambiance, evident as soon as you step inside. Despite the cafe’s stereotypical decor that fits neatly with images of stripped back Scandinavian homes, it is the kind of place where you can sit down and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere almost without realising you are doing so.

1000052

Transforming locally sourced Yorkshire ingredients into delicious, comforting Scandinavian foodieness, Baltzersens is an undisturbed local favourite for deliciously crafted goodies. Their most popular dishes include their traditional heart shaped Scandinavian waffles made using irons that were specially imported from Norway. Oooo, fancy! The waffles are also gluten free, which made me feel somewhat less guilty when I demolished an entire serving in one sitting, as these beauties are huge! One serving takes up the space of a normal dinner plate, accompanied by a small pot of whipped vanilla cream and a choice of salted caramel sauce, nutella, seasonal fruit compote, jam or maple syrup. The waffles themselves are beautifully soft and tasty without being sickly sweet, so it’s hard not to eat all of them! The best thing is that these waffles, which are reasonably priced for the amount you are served anyway, are half-price Monday-Friday from 3pm till 5pm. Perfect time for a mini afternoon feast!

As well as being a Nordic waffle heaven, Baltzersens also are experts on all things baked. Their popular cinnamon buns (which are divine!) and variety of freshly baked cakes and pastries are made from scratch each morning in the cafe, and can normally run out by lunchtime. To accompany their amazing waffles, you have a decent choice of well flavoured herbal teas as well as nice coffee that although is not very strong, is really smooth and easy to drink.

Certainly offering something different than the normal Harrogate grub of scones and tea or uber healthy delicacies, Baltzersens is beyond doubt the home of hygge in Harrogate, where  Yorkshire quality meets Scandinavian comfort.

The Pantry

Home to the vamped up breakfast

In the sleepy, quaint Edinburgh suburb of Stockbridge, you’ll find the food haven that is The Pantry. Flanked by the pretty Georgian townhouses that decorate this part of the city, The Pantry fits perfectly into the quaintness of the area, offering the perfect spot for a relaxed breakfast. Since opening in 2012 this place has been getting some pretty good reviews, including The Sunday Times who said that their Eggs Benedict was ‘reason alone to come to Edinburgh’. With its impressive reputation preceding it, the bar was set pretty high for The Pantry before I had even set foot in the place. And I have to say, I was not disappointed.

For one, the cafe runs like a well-oiled machine. Despite it being busy when I went for a Saturday brunch, the staff seemed to have everything under control – nothing felt rushed or stressful or hectic. Everything seemed to work in a seamless flow of movement. This was great because despite the busy atmosphere, it didn’t detract from the relaxed aura of the place which can happen in a lot of cafes as soon as they become slightly busy. As well as working like clockwork, the staff were really friendly and helpful. You could tell within a few minutes in the place that the whole cafe radiates a welcoming, friendly atmosphere that is genuine.

In no time, I was quickly seen to, seated on a table and given their impressive menu to gawk over. From first sight, you can immediately tell from the menu that this place is a foodie kind of place. Unlike many cafes or coffee houses where the food is secondary to the coffee or tea or remains pretty basic, at The Pantry food comes first. You can tell its run by food lovers from the menu, as the standard choices of eggs or pancakes/waffles that is the default served by most cafes has been vamped up to a truly delicious level. From the Type 2 Banoffee Pie Waffles to their Benedict with Rubbed & braised pork shoulder and poblano chile pepper, you really are spoilt for choice for well made, interesting food here. No plain scrambled eggs on toast here.

After umming and ahhing over the menu for a good while, I finally decided on the No Small Fry breakfast accompanied with a latte to start my day with. In what seemed like minutes my order was in front of my eyes ready to be savoured. Complete with toasted sourdough bread, a large, juicy cooked tomato, hearty bacon and sausage, an egg however you want (I opted for poached) finished off by a small portion of homemade haggis, my No Small Fry breakfast was definitely the perfect start to a busy day. I loved every mouthful of it, including the haggis which I had never tried before which was beautifully seasoned with pepper . What was great was everything was perfectly portioned so you didn’t feel horribly full at the end of it, which was great become often fry-ups can be too over-facing with the sheer size of them, ruining a yummy breakfast. The best bit of my No Small Fry breakfast was how well cooked everything was. It was clear that no corners had been cut with any part of my food.

Picture_20170826_092937302

In comparison to my delicious breakfast, my coffee was a little bit questionable. For one, it came in a juice glass, like the ones you’d drink orange juice out of in the morning, which to me is wrong on so many levels. And although the coffee itself was nice, it didn’t match the standard set by the amazing food, which was a disappointment but as it’s not a cafe known for its coffee, this wasn’t surprising.

Aside from the mediocre coffee, I was nothing but impressed by The Pantry. It’s passion for food shone through every element of my food, making it a truly impressive breakfast. Combined with the friendly staff who work like clockwork, and a laid-back, relaxed atmosphere, The Pantry is the perfect place for a delicious, well made breakfast and a good ol’ catch up with some old chums.

Harvest Coffee House

Ikea Minimalism Meets Local Caffeine go-to

Harvest Canteen and Coffee House in West Jesmond in Newcastle is a well-known coffee go-to for local caffeine lovers. The front-of-house cafe of the Ouseburn Coffee Company prides itself on providing the people of Newcastle with local, freshly roasted coffee straight from the Ouseburn Valley. Having sampled many of Newcastle’s coffee and tea houses, it was therefore only a matter of time before my feet led me to Harvest’s doorstep to sample their famed coffee.

On a rare sunny weekday, I found myself walking into the Harvest Coffee House eager to see what all the fuss was about. The first thing you notice when you walk in is the open and bright decor of the place. Its interior is stylishly decked out like a stripped back, jazzed up farm house given a Scandi interior design makeover with their numerous potted plants, lots of painted wood and low hanging lights. The large windows at the front of the cafe let in loads of light so you never get that dark and dingy coffee house feeling, making it a great spot for both sunny and rainy days to sit back and watch the passersby in a cafe that always feels bright and cheerful.

This rustic, minimalist aesthetic to the cafe matches the friendly atmosphere the place exudes from the welcoming and smiley staff. Their friendly, accommodating service brightens up the already well lit cafe as well as your day. No wonder locals pass by Harvest on their way to work each morning, the place puts you in a good mood from just stepping in the door.

Although their main attraction is their coffee, Harvest also serve simple, uncomplicated but delicious food from an unfussy menu. They don’t branch out much beyond simple baked goods and breakfast dishes like eggs with avocado or pancakes. On my visit to Harvest, I tried their blueberry muffin accompanied by one of their famed coffees in the form of a latte. The blueberry muffin was absolutely beautiful, it was really substantial and thick, filled with moist blueberries that burst when you take a bite into the muffin. It was easily one of the best blueberry muffins I have ever tired, perfectly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

The coffee on the other hand, was not as impressive as I had expected from its reputation. My latte had a slight burnt taste which made it not as enjoyable as it could have been, as it was a nice blend and decently strong for those who like their coffee more intense. As OCC roast their coffee fresh each day, it might have just been that I got a coffee from a batch that was a few hours old. But still, I was disappointed that the coffee was good but not as impressive or mind-blowing as I had expected it to be.

As well as guarenting each coffee living up to their reputation for excellent drinks, Harvest could also do with an expanded food selection. As the coffee house is open until 5pm on weekdays, it would be nice for a more developed menu for later on in the day. Although they do serve a small selection of sandwiches and pastries, a simple evening menu to switch to that is as uncomplicated as their current menu would be a well received development and would not take away from the simple, unfussy vibe of the cafe.

Overall, my visit to the famed Harvest Canteen and Coffee House was not a wasted trip, as I was impressed overall with the cafe thanks to its welcoming and friendly atmosphere and staff, although small improvements could be made where their food and coffee is concerned if I was being picky.

 

A Taste of Sunday: FARM Bistro Cafe

If you have your eyes peeled, walking down Oxford Street in Harrogate you’ll find FARM Bistro and Bakery. Aimed to echo the owner’s farming childhood, this first floor cafe with its almost hidden entrance boasts a rustic charm and warming atmosphere that is a reassuring sight once you’ve made it up its stairs.

With the horrible weather this week more closely resembling November than July, this bistro is a wonderful hideaway spot. Upon entering, you feel as if you’ve walked into a highly decorative farm house in harvest time, as the cafe is adorned in autumnal decor, complete with a fireplace, hanging pots and pans and weathered painted wood panels. Overall, it has a comforting feeling that makes it the perfect place to sit on a murky day as you can watch the rain from inside while warming up over one of their wonderful hot cups of tea, picking from the fairly substantial menu.

The food is like memories of lazy Sundays at my Grandparents’ house. Serving traditional with a twist comfort food, FARM offers all the nostalgia of childhood favourites but with added tastiness. From Eggs Royal, Thyme Buttered Mushrooms & Poached Egg, All Day Breakfast and Battered Haddock and Chips to warming puddings like Sticky Toffee Pudding, FARM is a great place for delicious but familiar food in the heart of Harrogate.

There is added incentive to visit this charming bistro in that their food is sourced locally, with their baked goods including their breads and cakes made fresh everyday on site in their artisan bakery on the ground floor. They also grind their own peanut butter, and make their own jams, marmalades and tomato sauce. Wow.

But it’s not all about tradition, with FARM’s menu offering some more modern twists to old favourites as well as tasty drinks such as their smoothies and juices. Their teas are one of my favourite drinks to order as they have great flavours and a decent variety on offer. My personal favourite is Turkish Chunky Apple tea, which has really apple pieces in it; it is wonderfully warming, with a real taste of autumn to it. The teas are served in dark grey Japanese iron cast teapots with an inbuilt strainer, so not only is there is no lumps in your tea but you get a great tasting drink with fresh flavours as it’s brewed there and then. The teas also come with small timers which show you how long it should be brewed for, so you are guaranteed to enjoy you tea at its maximum deliciousness.

Despite needing better signage outside for the cafe, which is less well known than its ground floor bakery, FARM is a lovely little cafe. With attentive staff and a great attitude to food, this small bistro offers a brilliant taste of local produce and skill in the heart of Harrogate, while still being reasonably priced and modern yet traditional.

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/anyaebgair/coffee-houses-cafes-eateries/

A Coffee Connoisseur’s alternative to Betty’s – Bean & Bud Coffee House

Bean & Bud, an independent coffee house nestled down Commercial Street in Harrogate, is a hidden gem as far as cafes are concerned in this Victorian town. Although Harrogate has quite a few independent coffee house and cafes serving afternoon tea, not all are as unique as they’d like you to think, or as knowledgable about their products as others. But there are exceptions, and Bean & Bud ranks high up on the list.

Although a small establishment with limited seating, Bean & Bud boasts a caffeine-lover’s getaway from the main shopping streets, offering you a quiet spot to take your time and smell the coffee. After passing the various Starbucks, Neros and Costas in the centre of the town, you walk in the door of Bean & Bud and are immediately greeted by the colourful cafe and smiling staff.

Experts on everything coffee related, the staff are amazingly helpful when it comes to you making your decision on which coffee to treat yourself to. Which coffee you say? What variations can their be aside from the standard espresso, cappuccino, latte, americano and the occassional flat white? At Bean & Bud, these are only the type of coffee to choose from, in terms of the milk to espresso shot ratio. You also have to choose what type of roast you want your drink to be made from and how it is made, choosing from the overwhelming selection on the boards above the counter.

They offer both coffee from individual farms and from cooperations representing smallholder growers. They also offer different types of roasts that they advertise on the boards, making the variety that you can chose from even greater, particularly because the types of coffee frequently changes as their supply alters, as they follow the harvests and respond to which coffees become available at different times. So no matter how many times you visit this little diamond, you will always see something new to try due to their ever-changing coffee selection.

If you are stuck for choice, the staff always willing to explain the differences between the options available and suggesting the best options if you describe what kind of coffees you like – sweet, light, heavy, nutty etc. As well as espresso based drinks, they also offer individually slow-brewed coffees that are prepared using a choice of brew methods. Again, different coffee options are often offered for this type of drink and the staff will happily advise on which beans best suit which method. Take a risk and try something new by going for an unusual roast brewed using the chemex, kalita wave or aeropress methods!

Aside from great coffee and proven coffee expertise, Bean & Bud also offer a range of freshly prepared sandwiches and cakes (including gluten free options) which are delicious. I can heartily recommend their Pastel de Nata (Portuguese Tarts), which are a good stab at more authentic versions, and a lovely companion to a cappuccino.

One of the best things about Bean & Bud out of all of their wonderful coffee and cakes, excellent customer service and clued-up staff, is their support of wider communities. Not only do they source some of their coffee from independent farms as opposed to international brands, but they also take any leftover food at the end of each day to  the Harrogate Homeless Shelter. This is something that should not only be applauded, but serve as an example for other cafes in Harrogate and beyond for how small businesses can contribute to the wider good of both local and abroad communities.

Overall, Bean & Bud is all you could ask for of a small, independent coffee house. Although I would like to see more sofas and armchairs and less wooden chairs to make the colourful cafe feel more comfortable, I cannot fault them in anything else. If you are ever in Harrogate and the line at Betty’s seems never-ending (9 times out of 10), pop down Commercial Street to Bean & Bud for some of the best coffee you will find in this neck of the woods.

Don’t forget to follow Yaya on Pinterest!