Summed up in a sentence: Plugs, plugs everywhere!
I’m writing this with great reluctance – Tinderbox is already popular enough with the locals and gets pretty busy during the peak grazing hours: 4-6pm. Nevertheless, I would feel like I’d somehow failed my virtual audience if I didn’t report on this cozy new find of mine.
SEATING. First of all, don’t be fooled by what you see – the seemingly tiny ground floor space is merely their coffee-to-go counter/ice cream bar. As you go inside, you find a creaky staircase leading to a big open space with another counter laden with various pastries and teas, and a seating area complete with booths, separate tables and a balcony overlooking the entrance to the N1 shopping centre (the Oasis and Monsoon end). In spite of its surprisingly spacious layout, the café does get pretty busy, especially on weekends. Practically every seating space has a plug socket, so very convenient for anyone who’s come here to work/read/play Angry Birds.
DRINKS. All reasonably priced for London (£2.40 cappuccinos, iced drinks are around £3-4), but the range is truly admirable. I crawled in here in search for free Wi-Fi (having recently moved house, we’ve yet to have our own connection set up at home) and shelter from the scorching sun (yes, to me 28C is SCORCHING, I want the rain and snow back plz) so my eyes darted straight to the range of iced drinks on offer. I’ve had their lattes before, and although I wouldn’t put their hot coffees in my top 5 list (that being said, I’m a bit of a coffee snob), it definitely beats the likes of coffee chain coffee (Starbucks, Costa, Nero etc.). Although given that the place is marketed as an Espresso Bar, their choice of coffee beans is slightly disappointing.
I ordered an Iced Caramel Icebox (which later turned out to be their take on an iced Americano, plus lots of milk and caramel syrup) and later, as I was there for a good couple of hours getting my fill of Facebook – a Raspberry Breeze. The Raspberry Breeze was delicious – I’m guessing some sort of smoothie, apple juice and a vanilla ice cream concoction? – order it or you’ll regret it! They also have a Mango counterpart – I’m going to investigate and come back having tried that one too. To be honest, although the caramel coffee drink definitely had room for improvement, it’s still far better than most places, and I’d definitely come back to peruse their lengthy drinks menu.
There are some cakes and small pastries/sweet treats on the counter, but I am unfortunately unable to comment on their quality – it was far too warm to be stuffing my face with Danishes. Maybe next time.
SERVICE. Attentive, but not overly so – you won’t find these guys breathing down your neck. Even when busy, the atmosphere of the place (perhaps due to their layout – lots of big leather seats, mini alcoves tucked away on the side of the main open space) is so relaxed, I wouldn’t call the service anything other than that of the ‘pottering about’ variety. This is most definitely not a negative comment – all customers are all well looked-after, without the staff running around like headless chickens and screaming at each other in the kitchen.
These folks are open until 10.30pm everyday (weekends incl), so if you’re a late-night coffee-drinker, this is a good place for you to know about. They don’t have a website, but their address is N1 Centre on Upper Street, Angel. Closest tube is Angel Station, obvs.