Map Cafe, Grafton Street, Kentish Town

First visited Tuesday 19th April 2011. Last visited Saturday 23rd July

**UPDATE**

Sadly, although the food and interior of the map cafe are both very pleasant, I don’t think I’ll be returning, as I think they have a serious problem with their service. This time, I knew to go straight and order at the back, then sat at the front of the cafe to wait for my hot drink and breakfast. The telly was really quite loud, but I thought I’d wait until they came with my tea before I asked them to turn it down. After 15 minutes’ waiting, I finally got up to ask if I could possibly have my tea now, even if the breakfast wasn’t ready. I also politely asked if they could turn the telly down, which they did, but only to turn the music on. It wasn’t super-super loud – probably fine for a slighly raised-voice conversation over a beer, but not for reading or work (things I’ve seen people doing in the map cafe before). But to be honest, the real problem is that you order, pay, and then feel completely abandoned. Breakfast arrived after 20 minutes and I was the only customer. There isn’t another cafe in Kentish Town where you wouldn’t get your hot beverage within 5 minutes of ordering and at most of them, you’d pay afterwards.

This is actually my third visit to the map cafe. The last time they completely forgot my order. I want to like it – what’s not to dislike about an innovative, arty, independent local venue serving locally-sourced organic food? but I can’t help feeling that the cafe part of the enterprise is an afterthought for the cool music kids who work there, and who would presumably much rather be promoting gigs or exhibitions in the space upstairs.

Interior: The Map Cafe is a genuine caff, but it’s also sort of an art gallery, venue, recording space so there are no tiles or brightly-coloured  menus with pictures to be found. Of its kind, however, it’s lovely – wooden tables and floors,  big window facing onto a quiet street, music not too intrusive and a very relaxed atmosphere. Be warned that despite the presence of the menus on tables, you should walk to the back of the caff to order (there’s a note on the menu, but a sign would help). You then pay when you order which feels odd for some reason – and certainly encourages people to stay for looooong peri0ds working on their essay / funding proposal / Act of Parliament.

Food: I had the English breakfast which was a bit pricier than many, but then the meat’s organic and the eggs are free range and it’s a really good size (too big actually – I didn’t try and order a smaller bespoke breakfast, but it would have been good if it had been option). I’d have preferred it if the waitress had told me that sausages and mushrooms were off and did I mind her replacing them with more bacon and spinach ? (answer is no – and the spinach was lovely) but I can’t fault the quality of the food.

My main objection would be that when I arrived, there was only one member of staff working, which meant that she had to get the breakfast going before she could bring me – gasping – a mug of tea (and the mug wasn’t filled up either!). Some more staff arrived after a bit, but given that there’s nobody there to welcome you when you come in, and that the caff had been open for more than an hour, it really wasn’t fair on the poor waitress/cook. Whom I tipped when I paid, and would still have tipped had I known I was going to have to wait so long for an undersized mug of tea.

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One Response to “Map Cafe, Grafton Street, Kentish Town”

  1. Village Cafe, York Rise, Tufnell Park « Caffs Says:

    […] the repeated failure of the map cafe to be anything other than bitterly disappointing, I’ve decided to venture off my usual beaten […]

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