16 June 2017

The Caffeine Chronicles: CREAM

UPDATE (January 2019): CREAM is now permanently closed.

During the London Coffee Festival, recommendations for pre- and post-festival brunch came thick and fast on social media, but one name kept coming up: CREAM. Located on New Inn Yard, a quiet street just west of Shoreditch High Street, CREAM serves coffee from Hackney-based Dark Arts and a creative, dynamic food menu in an industrial-chic, warehouse-like space.

The cafe is south-facing and so when I arrived just before noon on a sunny Saturday, the space was bathed in gorgeous light and the front doors were fully open so that you could sit at one of the tables next to the pavement if you wished. I was definitely getting Portland vibes, although I was also unusually lucky with the weather when I was in Oregon.

There is plenty of table space inside, with smaller tables on one side and bigger, communal ones next to the counter. I was also very taken by the chairs, which were as comfy as they were cool. I'm a sucker for a good pendant light too, and CREAM makes excellent use of them, although they were more decorative than functional on such a sunny day.

There were seven dishes on the all-day menu — mostly classic brunch dishes with interesting twists. Veggies are well-catered for here — I was tempted by the bean burger, but I ended up ordering the only dish with meat in it, the pancetta hash with a poached egg and pea shoots (£9). I also ordered a piccolo with Lost Highway, a Brazilian coffee from Dark Arts (who always pick great names for their coffees).

I took a seat at one of the bigger tables and got on with some writing — luckily, I'd brought my Moleskine notebook because CREAM has a no-laptops policy at the weekend. The coffee arrived swiftly and was very nicely prepared and had chocolatey, nutty notes that were accented by the milk of the piccolo.

The pancetta hash was delicious too, combining a variety of textures and savoury flavours. The barista asked if I wanted some bread on the side and I said no, which was fine for me, but if you're looking for a more substantial brunch, you might want to go for the bread. Or you could save room for pudding: the cakes on the coffee bar looked great.

Perhaps the sunshine was drawing the denizens of Shoreditch out into the sunshine, but CREAM was bustling without being excessively busy, which is often the case in this part of town during weekend brunch hours. Instead, I could enjoy my food and coffee at a relaxed pace while indulging in some Shoreditch people-watching. Overall, it's a lovely spot and well worth a visit.

CREAM. 31 New Inn Yard, London, EC2A 3EY (Shoreditch High Street Overground). Website. Twitter. Instagram.

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