24 August 2017

The Caffeine Chronicles: TAB x TAB

As regular readers know, I rarely visit West London these days, mainly because it isn't very convenient to get there from Bermondsey (I am spoiled living relatively centrally, which means I tend to walk or take a single bus almost everywhere). But when I lived in Marylebone, I used to enjoy strolling over to Westbourne Grove on a Sunday morning for brunch and a spot of shopping. Now, the opening of a new design-conscious speciality coffee shop, TAB x TAB, on Westbourne Grove has wooed me back.

TAB x TAB opened last month and I was intrigued to read about it in the press release I received while in Boston; since then, it's received rave reviews from some of my fellow London-based coffee writers. As I suspect it will be very busy this weekend while the Notting Hill Carnival is on and as I won't be in London for many more weekends until November, I figured that last weekend might be my last chance for some time and I hopped on a couple of buses over to verdant Westbourne Grove. The name, in case you were wondering (I was, but then to some, I am a Tab!), comes from the owners, Mathew and Charmaine Tabatabai. Mathew notes that TAB x TAB combines their passions of "quality coffee, delectable food and compelling conversation."

I arrived just after 10:00 am and all of the sun-drenched pavement tables were already taken, although there was still plenty of seating inside. I took a seat at one of the beautiful wooden stools perched in front of the window, which afford excellent people-watching. There are several other tables inside, both a larger, wooden communal table and smaller offerings. As will soon become a theme in this review, everything is thoughtfully designed and chic, but practical too.

The long, slate-grey coffee bar is home to a gorgeous MAVAM Undercounter espresso machine and there were two coffees available: the Brothers seasonal blend from Ozone and a Brazilian Fatima from Dutch roaster Bocca. There was a Bocca coffee available as a batch-brew filter too but I started with a piccolo with the Bocca espresso (£2.80). My food choice was easier, possibly because I didn't need to read beyond the second item on the all-day menu: avocado on toast with coriander, cashew and lime dressing (£7). Several other light meals and some gorgeous-looking pastries were also available.

I had already heard about the beautiful, hand-crafted ceramic cups, bowls and plates from London-based artist KANA — the first of many collaborations TAB x TAB will have with local artists and up-and-coming designers — but they lived up to their reputation, and I took even more photos of my piccolo than usual. Exercising great restraint (I'm saving for a big, upcoming foreign trip), I didn't buy anything...this time.

The coffee tasted as good as it looked, the creamy, nutty notes of the espresso coming through very nicely. Then the avocado on toast arrived and it looked just as amazing — so much so that the woman next to me asked if she could take a photo of it (at least she asked; another customer placed his coffee on the floor (!) to photograph it, making even me feel rather less extreme in my camera-eats-first philosophy). I would never have thought to combine cashew with coriander and lime in an avocado dressing, but the flavours combined superbly and the dish might even be one of my all-time-favourite avocado on toasts in London. Great care had clearly gone into the preparation of both the coffee and the food, which were presented impeccably despite the constant stream of customers.

After I had finished, I took a few more photos and browsed the 'shop' section, which includes a few lifestyle goods as well as retail bags of Bocca and Ozone coffee, and then rejoined the queue at the counter. I wanted to get a filter coffee to take away, but had clearly hit peak brunch time and after waiting a while, I began to run out of time and decided to settle for my excellent single-coffee experience. Although there are plenty of great coffee shops closer to home, TAB x TAB was well worth the journey and I hope to return again soon.

TAB x TAB. 14-16 Westbourne Grove, London, W2 5RH (Tube: Bayswater or Royal Oak). Website. TwitterInstagram.


  1. Hi Bex,

    Glad to see you finally made it ;-). I really love those cups and it's good to see that the food menu is up and running (one of the disadvantages of turning up in the first week is that they were only serving pastries).

    Keep up the good work!


    1. Thanks, Brian. It would have been a bit of a long jaunt from Boston. I'd definitely recommend returning to try the all-day menu, though the pastries also looked rather nice.