It's time for tea
The Fields Beneath, 52 Prince Of Wales Road, NW5
This place is adorable, let me just start off by saying. Named after the book by a local historian, Gillian Tindall, it’s tiny, tucked away in the railway arch under Kentish Town West overground station, just next to the exit. I used to work not far from here and found myself wishing it had existed back then (as well as be consumed with jealousy towards people who do live locally enough to pop in easily). The size is quite deceptive actually. I visited with two friends (R and A) and we wondered whether we could be accommodated as there were already a few people there. We needn’t have worried.
I had a long black and my friend went for a latte. The Square Mile coffee was immaculately served giving a really rich, strong flavour. It was the kind of coffee that simultaneously rolled your eyes into the back of your head and woke them up. R liked the subtle hints of liquorice and I had to agree. They also serve Round Hill and Federation Coffee.
As it was early (ish) Saturday morning, we decided the sweeter baked treats were necessary. We did spy the granola, but felt that as it was the weekend, the most sensible option would be the Grafton Cinnamon Bun and the rhubarb and rose jam doughnut. The Grafton bun was immense on flavour. We were wowed by it. It’s very cinnamon and the sweetness was nicely balanced against that. As it is so rich, we were recommended to share it between two (we shared between three for research purposes). It went really nicely with the coffee as well and gave you the impression you might have been drinking a chai latte.
The rhubarb and rose jam in the doughnut was heaven. It’s made by an independent jam maker, The London Borough of Jam, whose jars of original flavours are also available to buy in store. It really was a thing of beauty. Next time, I’m going to have to pick up a jar or two.
Some of the baked goods, such as the brownies, biscuits and cakes are made by Gavin’s mum and grandmother. Others are provided by a man named Pip who came up with the genius idea of beef doughnuts and a family run company called Galeta.
There are also a range of sandwiches and soups for more substantial lunchtime meals.
Our friend A joined us and had a mint tea (by which time I was so interested in the Grafton bun, I forgot to take a picture) which she really enjoyed. The loose leaf teas decorate a shelf, waiting to be called into service. I loved that there are little cloth pouches next to the jars into which they add the tea leaves to make your infusion. It’s a lovely touch.
As well as being a café selling food and drinks, The Fields Beneath also sell jam, as previously mentioned, bread and milk. The bread comes from an independent baker, St John’s Baker, Druid Street. Milk comes from a small organic farm in Gloucestershire, by 80 happy cows. The taste of the milk really benefits from this, although I was told that it could be trickier to froth, but happy cows are more important than fancy frothy latte art, some might say. Find out more about this amazing farm here: http://www.theladiesorganicmilk.co.uk/ . You can also buy (currently signed) copies of the book of which the café takes its name.
I loved the cosy atmosphere here. Gavin and Sybille were so friendly (as I’m sure are the rest of the team, I just didn’t meet them) and welcoming, it was a joy to visit. I loved how cheerful they were, even when things were so busy. They chatted to the seated customers and attended to us while still tending to the constant, busy stream of people wanting things to take away. The whole morning had a relaxed and calm feeling, an atmosphere of “come, sit, stay as long as you like”.
Indoor seating consists of one long table (the top of which is an old reclaimed wooden door) which customers sit around. The shared space didn’t feel invasive in any way, and we were able to have our own conversation quite comfortably too. One of the people at the table was the owner’s dad who was happy to regale people with stories of how proud he was. And it showed in a very warm, endearing way (even if he did claim to be consuming away the profits,). Staff were happy to chat and banter with ‘Dad’ and other customers. The father-son warmth, the big shared table and the friendly banter gave a feeling of being in someone’s family kitchen rather than a cafe.
With thanks to R and A for their contributions and company, and to Gavin and Sybille for letting me use some of their pictures and being very generous with their time in order to answer my questions!