I once had the misfortune of trying the cafe that previously inhabited the coffee corner in Napier Road’s Tesco. It was not long after we had Youngest, she was about 2/3 weeks old and had started to scream for a feed half way round the food shopping. My husband took Eldest and carried on, I slunk off to the cafe to console my crying baby with milk and myself with a nice warm drink. That was probably my first mistake, expecting my drink to be warm. No milk was given with my tea and the doughnut that caught my hungry eye was rock hard and clearly days old. Call it hormones but I could’ve wept at that hideous serving that cost me nearly a fiver that day.
So when we spotted the makings of a new cafe taking its place at the supermarket, we were quite excited. My toddler adores coffee shops. Perhaps it is all those Mummy and Baby coffee meet ups I did in his early days, perhaps it’s because of his grandfather’s fondness for an americano meaning we meet there quite regularly or perhaps it is just the special treat of a juice or chocolate wafers that he loves. Either way, he adores a trip to the Costa Coffee in town and regularly requests this when we let him pick a special treat.
Sunday came, it was raining heavily and my husband was desperate to have the kids out of the way to finish some DIY in the living room. So when Eldest answered “Coffee cafe” when asked what he fancied doing, I knew exactly where I wanted to try.
Youngest fell asleep en route, leaving Eldest and I the chance to have some nice Mummy and Son bonding time. We picked out a sandwich each (I the mozzarella flatbread, Eldest chose the kid’s ham sandwich) and then we agreed on some yummy looking banana bread as our special treat to share. To be honest, the sandwiches weren’t cheap, roughly priced around £5-£6 for an adult one and £1.75 for a children’s crust free smaller option. I nearly balked at the price but was pleased to see included in this price was a free piece of fruit or bag of crisps with each purchase of a sandwich.
Years ago I pretty much gave up on tea in coffee shops, fed up with the usual servings of scalding flavourless tea, I concluded tea really wasn’t included in their specialities. But the choice of teas on offer at Harris + Hoole had me willing to reconsider my previous assumptions and I’m glad I did. The pot of Rooibos tea that I picked was absolutely beautiful.
The tea was hot but not tongue blisteringly so. A small set of timers came with the pot, meaning you knew precisely when to let it brew until. It was whilst sipping my tea, I noticed on their menu board it declared that they serve the coffee and tea hot but not scalding. As they believe that a scorching hot drink interferes with the natural flavours of the milk added. A small but wonderful feature was that also the accompanying jug of milk with my tea pot was a generous enough portion for me to actually drink every last drop of my scrummy tea, not the thimbleful that often is so often served in other stores.
The little sand timers kept my son amused for quite a while and gave me a chance to take in the lovely relaxed atmosphere. Still busy at 2pm on a Sunday, there was a mum behind us comfortably breastfeeding her young baby, two gentlemen were sat nearby and having a quick business meeting and across the cafe was another family like us, enjoying a treat. I could see plenty of highchairs available if they were needed and there was ample room for when the odd person strolled in with a trolley in tow. Once the sand timers had done their course with my sons attention his interest moved straight on to the quirky decor. He was fascinated by the funky lights and the big chalkboards across the walls.
When the time came to go, my 3yr old informed me he didn’t want to leave, he wanted to stay and “watch the world go by”. After chuckling at his choice of words, I conceded and we sat back again for another 10 minutes happily pointing out and watching the too’ings and fro’ings of this buzzing cafe.
We absolutely loved our trip to Harris + Hoole and my noisy, messy and cheeky pair were embraced and made welcome from the minute we crossed the threshold. Something that will always endear a venue to my heart for a long time. I would recommend a trip to anyone and the local Costa certainly faces some tough competition!
This post was entirely of my own opinion and is in no way affiliated or sponsored by Harris + Hoole.