hi irene bean, and anyone else. life is full of moving/business/new country insanity, which is compounded by the lack of reliable interwebs. chris and i are willing to sell our souls (or each other on the street corner) for fast internet access, which basically means that we hop around londontown all day looking for restaurants with free wi-fi.
happily, we’ve discovered some gems around our dalston neighborhood, namely the delightfully quirky and oddly named coffee/pastry/sandwich shop tina, we salute you. last week i went five times, and would have been there a sixth day except they’re closed on mondays, so we were left standing outside in the rain, staring forlornly at the empty pastry case.
anyway, this daily attendance means that i’ve tried a good half of the menu there. they’ve got delicious coffee, locally roasted in the East End somewhere. my usual drink is the excellent flat white (my new favorite discovery since getting to London), which is like a latte but with less frothy milk so you get more coffee flavor. it also usually has very pretty designs in the top.
other fantastic drinks i’ve tried include a fresh mint tea full of big green sprigs of, you guessed it, fresh mint, and a big fancy pot of tea. i overheard one of the super nice guys who works there discussing a fancy pot, and obviously i had to have it. it did not disappoint. shiny, iridescent, gleaming, vintage, grandmotherly, featuring a duke and a maiden or whatnot, and full of piping hot english breakfast. here’s me oohing at the fancy pot and showing off my tea pouring skills.
the food at tina’s is delicious as well, although there’s only so many meals you can consume while sitting for hours enjoying free wi-fi. they have all sorts of homemade delights like frosting laden cupcakes, flaky and powdered sugar sprinkled almond croissants, and these delicious fruity-caramelly-nutt bars called flapjacks. apparently, flapjacks here are not pancakes, but more like a granola bar. the flapjack i ate resembled a granola bar in the sense that it was made up of almonds, raisins, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, oats, brazil nuts, and myriad other items i can’t recall. however, as the genius creator behind the counter said, this flapjack incarnation is quite a lot richer than usual, with this amazing sticky toffee taste adding an extra deliciously indugent hit of sugar to what might otherwise be an austerely healthy snack. here you can see the flapjacks, plus an artist working on the cool pastel murals on the walls, plus a ferocious jungle beast.
i also enjoyed a few tasty sandwiches (over the course of several days, mind you) like the ploughmans with thick cut brown bread, a really nutty and flavorful mature cheddar, onion jam and rocket. they’ve also got a good hummus sandwich, one with serrano ham and a few other varieties.
here are a few other reasons i really like tina’s.
1. the cafe is named for a saucy little minx featured in a painting on the wall. apparently she’s by a fairly famous local artist from back in the day who painted a lot of similar works. very sexy and very salute-able (yes i made that word up). check her out (and the yummy looking cake below her).
2. the decor is great – bright white walls that make the place feel open, big windows for eyeing the passerby, cool bubbly cartoon murals in happy colors, a large communal table for pots of tea and laptops and marmite and dishes of butter, and these funny little pastel pompom thingies hanging from the lights that make me feel like i’m in a loopy acid-induced wonderland. the whole vibe of the place is just warm and sunny and really really happy. here’s a shot of a lovely fruit and granola dish on the communal table (you can see the massive brick of butter, which began the day double that size).
3. the drink wall, a why-hasn’t-anyone-else-thought-of-this-genius idea that you might be able to see in one of the above photos. instead of making you keep track of a small and extremely lose-able piece of paper as a frequent drink buyer, it’s all drawn on a blank wall. every time you buy a coffee, you get to write a star next to your name with a permanent marker. not only is this very handy since i lose these cards all the time, but it makes me feel like a local. i belong somewhere, dammit!
4. they play great music from an iPod, including a long run of christina aguilera once (i’m looking at you here, liv) and one of my favorite albums ever, baduizm by erykah badu.
5. the place is stocked with good magazines like wallpaper and time out, and board games! if i weren’t working like crazy, i would love to sit here with a game of scrabble and a mug of flat white. aside: i’m simultaneously proud and embarassed to inform you all that my last scrabble game was played against my 9 or 10 ( i think) year old cousin michael, and i lost. in my defense, we both had over 400 points. mikey (and the rest of the fam), get yourselves out here to london so we can sit in Tina and have a rematch.
6. the best part – the guys who work there are all really friendly and chatty and don’t mind if you hang out for hours poaching the free internet. hopefully in the next few days, we’ll have internet installed at our new place and then more posts will be forthcoming. but i’ll still go back to Tina for the flapjacks.
Tina, We Salute You
47 King Henry’s Walk
London N1 4NH