Drink, Shop & Do, Caledonian Road

June 12, 2012

The road of Scottishness, as the accomplice calls it, is one of those endless straights in London which flows seamlessly from overpriced terraced houses to drab shopfronts, before meeting its tidal basin next to Kings Cross. The Cross is classic train-station-land, transient and tawdry, rough-around-the-edges despite the massive redevelopment which includes the beautiful concrete edifice of the new St Martin’s building and the floaty loveliness of the new station entrance opposite St Pancras. Wherever there’s a train station, there’s a palpable undercurrent of the other side of whichever city it’s in, the side we like to ignore and avoid. And it seems impossible to eradicate, however much effort is put into re-branding and redevelopment. And so, alongside the Regent’s Quarter, all warehouse chic and trendy eats, but opposite the Flying Scotsman (if you don’t know, don’t ask) and in close proximity to an ‘adult’ bookshop, is the wonderful Drink, Shop & Do, with its brilliantly haphazard interior, array of fun items, and pretty drinkable coffee.

Drink, Shop & Do is just very fun.

Drink, Shop & Do

I went here because the bus from the accomplice’s house which would have taken me directly to work seemed to have melted into non-existence, and I have fond memories of dropping in for take-away espressos a while back. I thus rode into the Cross and plonked myself down for a shot. The blend is from Volcano, a great roasting concern in deep south, fantastically written about in this post from fellow blogger Espresso Joe. The blend is spiky and playful both, with good tangy high notes set upon a syrupy base. The espresso worked very well, though the crema was not that deep or unguent, and retained its sweetness to the bottom of the cup. It felt warm and strong, and as a refuge from the traditional English grey drabness and a pick-me-up it did a fine job. I also had a macchiato, naturally. This was a dolloper, and the foam was airy and fluffy and would have made a good cappuccino, if that’s your thing. The first sip was oddly bitter, which I took to mean the shot hadn’t perhaps been tamped as thoroughly as it might, but it evened out nicely and once I had stirred the milk in, it was good. The shot does get a bit lost, but the overall effect is not deleterious as the coffee is smooth and pleasant. I would recommend the espresso more, as that way you can really get the taste of a very strong blend, and I would say that a little more practice at producing uniformly great cups is worth investing in, but these are not major criticisms.

Drink, Shop & Do

Drink, Shop & Do’s real strength, though, is the place itself. I appreciate, in fact, that it almost certainly does not think of itself as a ‘coffee house’, though with very little work it could definitely be one. DSD’s schtick is as “a design shop and café bar selling products from emerging designers alongside vintage furniture and home wares” where you can buy everything in the place, from the chairs and tables to some splendidly faded flags on the wall. There is also a great selection of cards and the sort of thing you find in little design shops. The genius is the marriage of the two concepts, café/tea-house and design shop, and the way they execute it. For one, the place has a genuinely relaxed and friendly feel. There are fabulous haircuts and smiles abounding, and it’s one of those venues where the staff seem genuinely happy to be there, and that you’re there too. There is a wide range of events, including, and this made me smile til my face hurt, ‘rude scrabble’, where you are only allowed to use the tiles to create profanity. This is my kind of venue. There is a huge range of teas and some good-looking edibles. Add to that an unforced lightness of touch, a creativity in presentation which extends to the typography on their menus, and the relaxed atmosphere, and you get somewhere to come and while away the hours, have some fun, and maybe buy a milk-bottle with an advert on it. DSD’s coffee is pretty good, certainly better than some places which style themselves as coffee houses, and it deserves points for that. But the real win is the place itself. Among the slightly sketchies and the deliberately done-up, Kings Cross is hosting a vibrant, fun venue which is hugely deserving of a visit.

Drink, Shop & Do, 9 Caledonian Road, N1 9 DX

Website with details

Also on Twitter: @DrinkShopDo

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