It's time for tea
Leyas, 20 Camden High Street, NW1 0JH,
Leyas is a quiet, warm, and frankly quite amazing little place a stone’s throw from Mornington Crescent Tube and walkable from Camden Town. It looks like it’s been lovingly decorated with its arty “half exposed brickwork” and reclaimed “vintage mismatched furniture” (description courtesy their own website). They also have some artwork- sadly some of this was stolen/liberated recently from the toilets, so if you do know anything about that, do get in touch with them.
The coffee here was really nice, maybe a touch strong for my taste, but I’d be happy having it again. It goes down very well and the quality speaks for itself. The Arabica coffee is from a “speciality artisan coffee roaster specialising in exceptional, directly traded coffee”. If I wasn’t being sensible with my caffeine intake on a Sunday evening, I would quite easily have had another it was that enjoyable and really moreish.
I had the mixed vegetable soup on a freezing cold winter’s day, opting for the more warming option, as tempting as all the ciabattas and fresh salads were. It was a pretty good soup, although I was expecting the pieces of vegetable to be smaller. The carrots and new potatoes (which were cut in half for example) were big enough that I struggled having a somewhat small mouth (no laughing at the back). It was a nice light broth though, rather than a thick soup.
My friend went for an Earl Grey and the Greek Salad which was “amazing, but I’d have liked more of the ‘good stuff’ and fewer leaves”. I have to say that the fresh salads looked great and I’ll be going back to sample some of them in the future.
For afters, we sampled the brownie and the carrot cake. The brownie was perfectly moist and chocolaty. Like all good brownies it was flaky at the top and gooey in the middle, and a really good size, satisfying without leaving you feeling like you might sink if you went swimming. Delicious. The individual carrot cake was great too, moist and rich with a generous dollop of cream cheese icing that wasn’t overly sweet. The raisin croissant I had for breakfast on my first visit was a perfect elevenses, slightly lemony and complemented the coffee really well. Cakes and pastries are baked in house and all look amazing.
The website boasts about the chai latte (pictured above with the brownie and carrot mini cake), and frankly, well they should. It’s easily one of the best I’ve had. It’s warming, comforting and sweet, just as it should be with a good ratio of water to milk and tea. I can see myself making special trips just for it. So often, in more ‘generic’ (read ‘global chains’) chai lattes, you end up with spiced milk that might have once said hello to a teabag in a past life.
The layout (going up a handful of stairs to order, or down a flight of stairs to the main seating area) means that it’s probably not best suited for people with prams or buggies. There are two tables at street level for people unable to access stairs though. The flip side to this is that it is a perfect place to have a quiet chat; work from ‘home’; read a book; or if the under 5 crowd isn’t really your scene. I love that there are also board games in the corner, inviting customers to stay as long as they’d like, having a good time with their friends.
Service is mostly with a smile. There are those who enjoy making good coffee and good food and see it as a way of making other people happy. It was nice to chat to some who had an infectious joy about the place though, and maybe someone less gregarious stood out a bit more as a result. Not many people can smile or make eye contact with everyone they meet every day, I know I can’t! It was a busy Sunday afternoon and it seemed that a few things had maybe gone wrong, but the staff coped admirably, apologising for not having china crockery on the day. They’ve been really helpful with information for the review.
The only aspect I found a bit frustrating was the wifi access. Most places with wifi access have a password they tell you at the till, and this was the case here, but what follows is a Kafkaesque process to actually get online. Once I entered the password, I had to register, surrendering my name, email address, phone number and postcode, after which I selected a password. Now, could I remember my password from my previous visit? Nope. I requested a password reset and a week later am still waiting for it. This might not be a bad thing, but if you were hoping to work remotely from ‘home’, it might present a problem. I’m told they have recently updated the wifi though, so this might no longer be a problem (Alternative moral of the story is ‘remember your password’).
I really liked Leyas, the coffee, the atmosphere, the fresh, top notch food all made in house, the people running it. My friend and I were envious of people who live near enough to visit it regularly. They also have a range of teas and other pantry goods you can take home with you. This is a place I will definitely be visiting with my North London mates, and so should you!
(PS If you know anything about the missing pictures, please do encourage the person to return them). (Also, thanks to my mate K for coming along).