It’s funny how sometimes you just have a feeling that a new coffee shop is going to be good isn’t it? An inkling or suspicion. Maybe it’s subliminal; the signs and ingredients are there, they just don’t register at the time. I’m not sure I even mean *good* although they invariably are, maybe ‘to my taste’, or ‘a little bit special’ is more accurate. It’s these places that I end up chasing across town for. 46b Espresso Hut was one, Tina we Salute you another, that rewarded my adventuring with not solely caffeine satisfaction, but that combined with a comforting and yet inspiring atmosphere. I’m currently eagerly anticipating the opening of Talkhouse Coffee in the coffee dessert that is West London, Portobello Road specifically, I ended up brunching with the manager Sunday before last and regardless of how the cafe may look, I know the heart and soul and passion is already there, poised to be released on to the public on opening day. It’s these sorts of things that draw me to a place rather than slick branding, modern design and a polished, finished, sleek look, if I’m honest those things even turn me off a bit. Where’s the romance in that? I want to be able to feel transported, to invent my own story.
Embassy East manages to satisfy these demands, there’s a warmth exuding from the little cafe despite a minimal fit out that is more than it’s pared back parts, an honesty if I’m being particularly vomitous. If I wasn’t searching for a specific street number, I’m not familiar with this Hoxton street AT ALL, I would have missed the quietly buzzing shop packed with happy locals. There’s also no branding whatsoever when I visit, bar some loyalty cards on the counter, but it’s extremely early days and I’ve seen a beautiful sign in the making, rather an elaborate and serious creation that I think threw me off their scent when searching the unfamiliar street. Somehow their online image had seemed slicker than the reality, for this same reason I’ve so far avoided Timber Yard, Bird and Ballard and Harris & Hoole, they may be good, yes even H&H, but I’m turned off by the city boy business nuances and off putting marketing (although I walked past Timberyard the other day and was surprised that it looked far smaller and more inviting than the impression it gives). I noticed (from pics) Embassy’s lovely etched sign is now swinging merrily from the front of the shop.
Inside is a simple mix of white paint and boards, a narrow corridor past small tiled kitchen leads out to a more intimate area at the back, a little hidey that’ll no doubt be earmarked as prime brunching nook, there’s a minimal blackboard menu and benches etched with history, stools are low and not the most comfortable but none of this seems to matter if the cafe works. It may be in it’s first days of opening but I get the feeling this place, owned by three friends who met whilst working at Flat White, (I love a nice story) serving Workshop Coffee, will. That logo reminds me a little of the Workshop one in fact, in that it seems symbolic, maybe it’s a secret coded mystery map.
My filter coffee, a juicy Rwanda Buff, is refreshingly served builder style in a heavy white mug, teaspoon doffed against the handle as a cheeky nod to the over stylisation and search for perfection that has become the norm amongst many similar establishments. An espresso made with Workshop’s Cult of Done is well pulled and comes with a miniature chunk of bread pudding for us to try. Food choices are simple and limited to a selection of sweets and classic brunch fare. I can’t resist something I’ve seen them playing around with on Twitter, their take on neeps and tatties; a haggis toastie served with a turnip salad, it’s satisfyingly cheesy with a spicy meaty stodginess I’m expecting, my friend has poached eggs on toast.
It may not be somewhere I can visit often due it’s exotic location but I imagine it’ll quickly be adopted by the community, growing and flourishing as a go to coffee and brunch spot for the local hoxtonites, and from time to time I’ll make the journey for a little adventure, a change of scenery and hope it hasn’t evolved or changed too much from it’s humble beginnings.