Inventive and delicious gluten free cake options? Check.
Soya milk? Check.
Tea-cosies so delightfully dense and charmingly knitted they spark admiration and even conversation amongst complete strangers? Check.
This bijoux bistro can be found on Kynaston Road, just behind Stokey’s more well trodden Church Street.
It’s quality offerings have been beautifully documented by other local bloggers:
and the elbow-room limitation at the weekends is only testament to good coffee and great baking.
Recently I also learned that it’s part of the ‘laptop-free weekend cafe’ movement (as I discovered while firing up my machine one Sunday).
Growing in North America, it’s only just lapping against the consciousness of London’s cafe owners and their clientele. ‘Sip n surf’ is now being seen as a victim of it’s own success: creating hoards of what our transatlantic cousins are calling ‘laptop hobos’ (among whom, I should add, I often count myself) shuffling from cafe to cafe in search of wifi and power outlets.
The ‘Actual Cafe’ in Oakland’s website gives an in depth analysis of their decision to go techno-free at the weekend:
The headlines are they want to deliver a conversation promoting, relaxing escape from the work environment, and they are refreshingly straight about the hours of seat-occupancy and it’s effects on their business.
I do believe the success and proliferation of London coffee shops is, in no small part due to the repeat custom of the accused techno-hobo. However this city is certainly large enough to sustain techno-free enclaves (if only at the weekend), and I will admit that the laptop-free ambience is a friendlier one, and will certainly continue to return to Fred and Fran at the end of the week with friends, sketchbook or both to enjoy their very fine fare.
And what of the drawing!?
I was unable to resist scoffing my original subject: an almond and raspberry mini-loaf, and on realising my seat choice had been far from ideal in terms of further subject searching, I was left with the only thing on left on my plate: the fork.
It was fortunately an ornate and weighty object, and the resident baristas were kind enough to both allow me to keep it for the duration of my stay, and offer words of encouragement on the emerging images.
I quite like the left handed fork – and hope to be trying more such techniques in the coming week, and the right hand fork bears a reasonable enough resemblance to the original to satisfy me for now!