A nip of expresso is all very well on a brisk walk past a kiosk on a cold winter’s morning – but I have never been able to understand people who march and swerve, sipping from buckets of milk (with often homeopathic doses of coffee) on the capital’s icy pavements.
It gives me indigestion to look at them.
But it’s difficult enough to get a seat at Maison D’Etre, so perhaps I should be hoping that they continue their busy busy milk-sipping lives on the pavements.
At the east-end of Upper Street, and immediately across from (albeit shielded by some shrubbery on a roundabout) transit hub Highbury and Islington Station, it’s a well placed meeting point, and provides great people watching if you get the window seat.
I’ve heard la maison is reasonably strong on homemade baked goods, with the owner having marketed her wares in Brick Lane prior to this venture. It’s not so strong on gluten-free (I’m a realist: not every baker in the city can cater to my nutritional needs) so I can’t report first hand :-(.
If their decor was a wordpress theme I recon it would be called ‘Modern Whimsy’.
There’s a heavy reclaimed wood presence, but it’s a bit more floral than most cafes in this vein. There’s a good bit of original art and the seating wall has a charming hand-painted black and white mural.
My recent discovery is their conservatory – overlooking a garden (open in Summer for all of us, and in winter for the hardy and well-padded smoker). It opens up, tardis-like after a door which might otherwise lead to a small bathroom. Crucially, it means that even when the ‘front shop’ is stuffed with Londoners swaddled in bulky coats, seating might not be such in short supply.
I should tell the busy busy Londoners.
But more elbow room for drawing is a precious commodity. So perhaps not.
Despite appearances to the contrary, Maison d’être is not to be found on tilting ship. I’m not quite sure how I ended up with quite as sloped a perspective as this. The cabinets in the background (I’ve decided) are ‘playing’ with perspective, rather than conforming to it…!
Next time: London’s best expresso!