It's time for tea
Tapped and Packed*
193 Wardour St
My first visit here was after work one day for a quick catch up with a friend. It seems like a perfect venue, centrally placed in London’s glittering West End, a few minutes walk from Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square tube stations, just off the legendary Shaftesbury Avenue or Oxford St depending on which end of London you’re arriving from.
The first thing that strikes you about this place is the atmosphere. There’s a cozy buzz to it, soft lighting (perhaps too soft for my poor camera to perfectly capture the wares), political posters on the walls, wood floors and surfaces. People are chatting, friendly conversations or maybe work, others are tapping away at laptops or engrossed in a book but there’s a feel of being part of a ‘something’. My friend, MW, said it best when she said “It’s the kind of place you could imagine brewing up a revolution”.
As well as revolutions, Tapped and Packed brew excellent coffee, which is roasted in house on this beautiful looking machine (they also do filter coffee).
The Guatemalan long black is full of flavour. It’s rich, smooth and strong, not too hot, and really fruity, really special. You almost feel like you have to save it for occasions rather than have it every day even if it does taste so moreish. I also thought it was a bit cool that the swirls here look like the Eastenders credits.
The raspberry and coconut cake reportedly tasted more of coconut than raspberry I’m told but the mocha was perfect, just the right strength and rich in flavour.
I loved the slightly spiced frosting on the carrot cake. It went very well with my long black (notice also clever use of old treacle tins as sugar jars).
For the serious coffee drinkers, Tapped and Packed stock supplies of coffee paraphernalia alongside their coffee.
The decor is really warm and creative, with individuality shining through the vogue of wooden floors, tables and seats. All the teaspoons are individually reclaimed it seems. This tree bark table houses all your take away needs such as sugar and cup lids. Similarly the free wifi username and access word are carved on a lump of wood.
The apricot and raisin cookie (pictured here with the latte and chocolate brownie) was a nice ‘side’ to a cup of coffee too, chewy and not too sweet.
There are delicious looking cakes, pastries and biscuits and some sandwiches on offer. I seem to have bad timing with the sandwiches though as whenever I’ve been there hasn’t been much of a selection left. This is particularly the case if you’re vegetarian. It’s a bit of a shame that there often isn’t a lot of food left over in the after work time of day, but that’s more the fault of my work schedule than Tapped and Packed. I was surprised that they seemed to have run out of a lot of goodies by 3pm on a Saturday though, given that they are open till 7. It might have just been that we hit an in-between time just before fresh supplies were laid out.
All the baking is done in-house “downstairs by Sam and Georgia” who seem to like to try their hands at new twists on old favourites. In fact, in the three times I’ve been, I think there have been new goodies each time. This is both amazing and a little bit sad; to think I may never have another chocolate crusted lemon tart again.
Something that really impressed me about Tapped and Packed was the service and the friendly staff. They were helpful with questions about the food and coffees and seem to genuinely enjoy working there. When I went with my friends M&M (no, they weren’t red and yellow) we had some dietary restrictions in our party. Although there were no caffeine free, lactose free or gluten free options available on that day, staff were really accommodating with providing free boiling water and M was able to have a packed snack from her backpack. Another time, I went after work with H. We were solving the world’s problems over coffee after work, which obviously takes time. Along with a few others, we were left to get on with it, chatting for at least a half hour more, and not at all rushed out the door at the stroke of 7.
At times the music might feel a little bit loud, but not in a jarring way, conversations were still completely possible. I think for where it is in Central London in the heart of London’s glittering West End it is quite a haven of calm away from the hustle of Soho and Theatreland without losing the sense of excitement. It’s definitely somewhere I’d duck into when I’m in the area. Although staff are friendly and the atmosphere is enjoyable, there is that sense of diverse anonymity one gets from London which can make you feel a little disconnected from your surroundings sometimes though – which is part of the appeal of a place like this. It’s anonymous without being cold.
The best thing about this place which shows the designer’s sense of humour, is definitely the toilet brush holder. It’s fashioned using a large mug from a large global coffee chain that has had some “creative accounting” recently. And no, I didn’t take a photo of the toilet brush….because it’s a toilet brush….you’ll just have to go and see it for yourself!
(With thanks to P, MW,ML and H for your views and contributions-MW, thanks for the ace photography!)
(*Also known as the post that almost never was due to writer’s block and then drafts being mysteriously deleted)