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New Row Coffee, Covent Garden, London WC2

April 19, 2012

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There have been a couple of things I’ve been wanting to do in central London for a few weeks: see the Lucian Freud exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery … and have a morning coffee in New Row Coffee, a lovely cafe I stumbled across a while back while filling in some time in the Covent Garden area before meeting a friend for supper.

With the last of the work I had to do before my holiday to Venice next week put in the post yesterday, I was free today to have a little holiday excursion into London. The weather wasn’t kind. It was pouring with rain and the rain was forecast to last all day long. However, I planned to be inside so, with a tremendous effort of willpower, I walked past my favourite coffee stop in Richmond, Taylor St Baristas, and jumped on to a fast train into Waterloo. I estimated I could be in New Row Coffee a bit before 11 a.m. Although my desire for a morning coffee hit barely makes it past 10 a.m. most mornings, whenever it gets as late as 11 a.m. I never fail to think of ‘elevenses’ and Paddington Bear. However, I was unlikely to find Mr Gruber waiting for me nor was I wanting marmalade sandwiches. I did though find the most wonderful display of pastries, cakes and savoury sandwiches in New Row Coffee and fabulous coffee.

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New Row is a lovely little street that runs between St Martin’s Lane and Bedford Street in Covent Garden. There are some interesting shops and quite a few cafes, tea houses and ice cream bars. New Row Coffee is small and the weather definitely wasn’t conducive to sitting on the bench outside, so once I’d ordered my Flat White and croissant I asked to share one of the small tables and found myself sitting with the owner who I’d spoken to on my first visit. He told me that their regular coffee was Union’s Foundation Espresso – a traditional dark roasted blend, which was rich, sweetish and very, very delicious. The croissant was excellent too. And the sandwiches and other food looked so good, I know I’m going to have to go back again soon.

From there, it was a quick run through the rain back down St Martin’s Lane to the National Portrait Gallery. I was lucky that the rain had held off visitors and they were fairly quiet when I walked in so I was able to get a ticket for immediate entry to Lucian Freud Portraits. And wow! What an amazing exhibition. Get along quick before it ends on 27 May.

Update August 2016: New Row Coffee has a new owner and has been renamed The Espresso Room. However, it still serves the same great coffee and similar food, so is still a favourite.

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