Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Breakfast at the Attendant, London

The idea of an abandoned toilet-turned-espresso bar reeks of a trendy hipster joint that should be situated in the heart of Shoreditch, not refined Fitzrovia. But walk down the steps of this old Victorian public lavatory and you will be greeted by a warm little café with no signs of skinny jeans or fixie bikes.

The Attendant was originally built around the 1890s and decommissioned around 70 years later. And after lying dormant for over 50 years, it was refurbished into an espresso bar with many of the original features including its dark green Victorian tiles and porcelain urinals.

The old Attendant’s office is now a minute kitchen, while the urinals now serve the purpose of coffee benches lining the walls of this pint-sized café. 

Strangely enough, it’s not off-putting at all to eat your breakfast in a toilet, and it’s clearly a regular point of call for many of the Fitzrovia workers to grab a coffee on their way to work. The first thing that catches your attention is the coffee bar overflowing with cakes, pastries, sandwiches and juices. And actually, thinking about it, perhaps orange juice for £3 served in jam jar is the only evidence of  "hipster" in this cafe.

With the gentle hum of '90s rock filling the cafe, I decided on a chai latte and a breakfast parfait of granola, strawberries and yogurt, which was served in another jam jar with layers of granola, yogurt and sauce, as well as a rather large strawberry and a couple of mint leaves perched on the top. 

While the breakfast parfait and chai latte were tasty, they weren't anything to dance around the toilet about. I would rather like to try the sandwiches at lunchtime, or the huge array of cakes from carrot to banana. I've been back since for a coffee, and I really enjoy the stillness of this cafe - below the busy streets of Central London, this is a perfect hidey hole for freelancers and creative-types.

The Attendant
27A Foley Street
LondonW1W 6DY