Ginger and White, Hampstead

May 7, 2013

Weekends are great. Weekends are blessed. Weekends are when we have the time to do what we would like to do otherwise, but are too rushed with the commitments of work or business or frantically trying to cram in around those aforementioned necessities all the other little things that need doing. Lazy walks, lazier brunches, and the chance to explore somewhere new or somewhere already known but fleetingly are all chances afforded by a weekend. A few weeks ago, the accomplice and I set off with a copy of London’s Hidden Walks and headed up to Hampstead to wander through its affluent streets and the attendant leafy heath (for one of my side passions is climbing trees, and there are many trees to climb). And where better to start the Hampstead walk and begin the lazing than Ginger and White, tucked up a small alleyway moments from the tube station, and happily near where the map told us we should commence?

Ginger and WhiteGinger and White seems made for this sort of sojourn. Discretely hidden in Perrin’s Court, one of the cobbled side-ways that litter Hampstead, it is removed from the hustle and bustle of the centre of the town area, which to me feels still like the village it was, more than the wealthy enclave it has become. The layout is both condensed and airy: while you may be sitting cheek by jowl with another customer, the high ceilings and bay windows, as well as the bright lighting and white walls, make the whole place feel bigger than it really is. There is a small outside area as well, where the hubbub of the High Street drifts up and reminds you that not everyone is as leisurely as you today. The place feels calm but not soporific; there is a buzz about the staff and an eagerness to get things out to customers and they are friendly and chatty, but without disturbing anyone. It is a very difficult trick to achieve, making your customers feel unrushed but still approaching everything will purpose and quickness, and they succeed admirably.

Ginger and White

The coffee was, as with my last weekend trip away to St David, Red Brick’s Square Mile. This dependable roast is actually a good barometer of barista skill levels, as I’ve now had it so many times in its current instantiation that I feel I can compare fairly well what it should taste like to what actually comes out of the bar. I had no complaints at all where Ginger and White were concerned: a well extracted espresso shot which picked out the cherry tones was followed by a creamy cortado which well suited this robust roast’s toffee sweetness. The cortado was better than the espresso, in my opinion, but I think that’s because I now find the Red Brick blend a bit uninspiring as a shot when set aside some of the more challenging and dynamic shots out there. With milk though, in the hands of a good barista, it still more than does a job. The accomplice had her customary black tea. I neglected to put down where it was from, but she swears that it was very lovely, and she doesn’t hand out such compliments easily.

We also had some food, and here again, Ginger and White came up trumps. As you can see from the picture, the eggs were rich and vibrant and perfectly cooked, and my bacon sandwich came with a feisty little relish and thick-cut bread with bounce and flavour. While not in any way a food buff or critic, I do like to eat, as anyone who has seen me set about an entire roast chicken will tell you. I know what I enjoy and I enjoyed this. I was also impressed that for cooked food, the price was actually about the same as you sometimes have to pay for ‘artisan sandwiches’, incidentally a phrase I find one of the most pretentious in the English language. Were they hewn from marble? Did their maker spend years as an apprentice in a guild-like structure, crouched at the elbow of someone who can really slice up sour-dough bread? I think not. Anyway, I always expect places like Ginger and White to err on the annoyingly expensive and, while it isn’t cheap, it certainly isn’t silly and is, I think, better value for money than a lot of like places.

Ginger and WhiteAnd thus, sated, we made our way into Hampstead and managed not to get lost on a walk which took in the heath, some graveyards, lots of houses bearing blue plaques, and the quite incredible Pergola and Hill Garden. I have lived and worked near the area for a few years now and had no idea at all that it was there. If you’re the same, please find it and wander around; you will not be disappointed. And we were well set on our way, both in terms of food and drink, and of ambiance, by our stop at Ginger and White. I think it can be very easy to associate an area with a certain character, and in fact I would say I’ve fallen into that trap myself when writing sometimes. For me, Hampstead can conjure up a kind of quietly opulent smugness, its little cobbled rat-runs designed to confuse and keep out those who haven’t earned the right to familiarity. How excellent, then, to find a coffee house which lives up to none of those preconceptions, which seems to enjoy being friendly, relaxed, calm, and which serves good food and coffee (and yes, tea). Ginger and White is all these things, and I suggest that before you set out to find the Pergola, you find yourself here first.

Ginger and White, 4a-5a Perrins Court, Hampstead, NW3 1QS

Website with details

Also on Twitter: @gingerandwhite


One Response to “Ginger and White, Hampstead”

  1. Beautifully written and very evocative. Clearly I shall have to go!


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