It may be cold and gloomy outside but it’s toasty and cosy in here woooo
So sometimes I’m at Tufnell Park on Sundays with Keen London, and I’ve never really stuck around to check the area out. Then Time magazine ran a special section on the hidden treasures in the area, and I suddenly realised that maybe it wasn’t all quiet houses and the odd Costa after all. After abit of exploring up Fortress Road (I really didn’t get very far), I chanced upon this lovely place. Just look at those floor-to-ceiling windows! The name alone was such a draw: The Literary cafe. It conjures up images of hipsters snugly swathed in fuzzy knits, their noses in a book and a pot of tea by their side. It turned out to be more laptops than books (free wifi!), but the atmosphere is still incredibly charming and the ambience warm. Also, I’m a sucker for high ceilings. I was sat there with my readings for about an hour, and I saw multiple groups of people wander in, their faces radiant to the welcome warmth of the cafe as scarves were unravelled and jackets slung on chairs. Of course, I also managed to catch the one token hipster who came in, face passive behind a immaculately trimmed beard and thick rimmed glasses, and with a book in hand. A cafe just ain’t right without one of those yea.
You quickly catch on as to why the cafe is named as such: bookshelves line the walls, stocked with an eclectic collection of used books that are available both for reading on the spot as well as for sale. Everything from a Gordon Ramsay biography to cheesy teenage romance novels, really. It’s such a welcome change to see books on the walls instead of TV screens, the suggestion of a slow, quiet hour or so spent reading instead of having the senses overwhelmed by the glare and noise of the television. The soft, warm lighting is perfect for reading, but without interrupting the comfortable, fuzzy haze that settles over you in response to such cosiness. The mismatched furniture is comfortable and delightful. There is also a garden area out the back, but it wasn’t quite the best weather for that so I only stole a quick glance. It’s not big, but it looks like it would be perfect in Summer or just a sunny day.
I took only a brief look through the rather extensive menu, because I was only looking to get a drink, but i would say that for £10 and under, you would easily get brunch (full breakfasts, pastries, cakes and everything in between) and a hot drink. I ordered the Indian tea, which was basically a sachet of chai in steamed milk with a sprinkle of spices. It was fairly ordinary, but I certainly enjoyed it. Midway through my readings I looked up to see 2 plates piled with pancake stacks being delivered to a table, and I sorely regretted having already packed lunch for the day.
Of all that, I would say the best thing about the cafe is how lovely the staff are. Everyone I encountered was brimming with cheer, incredibly polite and so nice. I would gladly go back again and again if simply because they were such great people that they made the experience so enjoyable.
There were 2 men seated at the table next to mine and having a chat over coffee, and as another man that had gotten a takeaway was leaving, one of the men called out to him and asked to have a portion of spinach prepared, ‘I’ll be passing your shop in 5 minutes!’. The grocer was again interrupted on his way out with a lady in a pretty floral skirt reminding him that she owed him 60p. He laughed and joked at no one in particular how he seemed to never be able to escape his business. I was pleasantly surprised at how tight the community seemed, and how friendly.
Me thinks: Worth travelling north to Tufnell Park for. The atmosphere is like nothing I’ve ever had anywhere else, the food both looks amazing and is reasonably priced, the crowd is interesting and the staff courteous and welcoming. And there are books, lots of them! What could be better? Do note though, that they don’t accept card, but that’s not a big problem at all with a Sains cash machine just two doors down.
Rustique (The Literary Cafe)
142 Fortess Road, London NW5 2HP
Tube station: Tufnell Park (it’s a 5 minute walk from the station)
Cheers (to good books and great places to read them!) x