Cafes, London

Old Curiosity Cafe: The Bridge in Shoreditch

Steven’s psycho-geography walks for his Fine Art course have proved to be pretty useful, when he came home with tales of a new Dickensian-style coffee house under the bridge on Shoreditch High Street.

So, after our lunch at Monsieur M. and a gander down to Start London, in the hope of seeing Brix and her lovely pugs (no luck, but two pugs spotted playing in Hoxton Square), we headed to The Bridge for coffee and cake.

The coffee house has been painted in a murky maroon colour and like many Shoreditch establishments, has a grate over the window, so you could quite easily miss it.

Inside, it’s like stepping back in time to a Victorian coffee house, with an almost obsessive collection of old photographs, vintage Coca Cola adverts, tiny trinkets, Tiffany lamps and gilt mirrors.  They even have a handful of the most gorgeous copper Elektra coffee machines and an old fashioned cash register (so it’s cash only at the moment).

The coffee house also looks like it might have been inspired by traditional northern Italian local caffes, with shelves and shelves of Italian coffee, syrups, panettone and home coffee machines.

The Cypriot owner and his Italian staff are really friendly and welcoming and you can tell how proud they are of the new venture. We ordered a latte, hot chocolate and a huge slice of cherry cheesecake to share.  We were ready to take a seat at the bar, but the owner told us that if it was our first time there, we might like to sit upstairs.

We went up into what can only be described as a Proustian/Miss Havisham salon crossed with an antique shop, with beautiful Marie Antoinette-style furniture.  The loft area has high wooden beams, creaky wooden flooring and is literally on a level with the bridge.  It has a relaxed, sociable atmosphere, helped by a soundtrack of classical music, and the tables are arranged almost likes booths, so you can have some privacy for gossiping.

The coffee was just as delicious as you’d expect, although the hot chocolate was rather forgettable powder and milk combo – I’ll be ordering a cappuccino next time.  The cherry cheesecake was pretty good – a generous but light and lemony filling with a soft sponge base and sweet cherry compote on top.  I’m not sure if the sponge base made it more authentically Italian, but it nonetheless, it was a nice treat.

There’s a good selection of comfort desserts like apple strudel, Portugese custard tarts and mountainous cream cakes, which the owner told me are delivered fresh in the morning (although that didn’t win me over, as I still hate cream cakes).  Most of the people around us were ordering giant paninis to share, so maybe the sandwiches could be worth a try next time.

The best thing about The Bridge is the warm, familiar service that makes you feel like a local, even on the first visit.  The waitress gave us cake recommendations and told us that most of the trinkets and coffee equipment came from Cyprus and Italy.  Apparently, the downstairs area took a mighty eight months to complete, while the upstairs salon fell into place within two weeks.

Despite being open for just 17 days, already there’s a steady stream of Shoreditch hipsters using the cafe as their second home, having long, afternoon meet-ups and snuggling in the corners.  The waitress told me that a number of people have fallen asleep on the sofas upstairs, and I can just imagine it, as it has such a louche, soporific atmosphere.

We paid £8.50 for two hot drinks and a slice of cheesecake, which seems average for this part of town, although the hot chocolate was overpriced at £3 (go for a coffee instead).

The Bridge isn’t like any other place in London, let alone Shoreditch, so go now and find your regular sofa while it’s still peaceful and bookish – lets hope the media loud mouths don’t invade with their Blackberrys!

The Bridge Coffee House, 15 Kingsland Road, Shoreditch, London, E2 8AA.

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33 Comments

  • Reply WriteNoiseNi February 3, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Best thing to do with a blackberry – turn it into jam! Looks like a superb cafe, even if they stiffed you on the hot chocolate. I’m feeling inspired to go on my very own cake and (decaff) coffee odyssey this month 🙂

  • Reply jen February 15, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    shame the coffee looks awful.. someone needs some barista training!

  • Reply cheriecity February 15, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    It does look kind of milky on the photo, but my cafe companion reckons it wasn’t actually weak. If you go, don’t bother with the hot choc, it was disappointing.

  • Reply billy February 19, 2010 at 1:37 am

    Great place, lovely atmosphere and best coffee I have ever had in London so far, apparently they roast their own coffee…

  • Reply lauren February 19, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    OMG!This place is awesome. Reminds me of my favourite cafe back home in New York. I’ll definitely comin back.

  • Reply lexi February 19, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    Best hot chocolate in town with good portion of cream on the top!!!!yam

  • Reply steave February 21, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    is so nice place but sunday i went there is was busy and staff working too slow

  • Reply jason February 22, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    Unbelievable place, great atmosphere, delicious coffee and cream cakes to die for!!!!!Thanks for comin to the area guys!

  • Reply olivia February 22, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    i’ve been this place on saturday.the decor is fantastic, this place is busy, might wait a bit longer for coffee, but is definitely worth it. the best cappuccino in london!

  • Reply lee February 22, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    nice place, but no staff. men who working there allways not happy is look like not happy when people coming in

  • Reply kate February 23, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    this place is great or what?! finaly something different from Starbucks, Costa and Co.!the coffee is delicious and the interior superb!!!

  • Reply rossa February 24, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    this place is lovely, but i can see that the owner dont treat his staff write.

  • Reply steve February 25, 2010 at 12:58 am

    This place has a great atmosphere, first impression I had was Bar Italia in Shoreditch, but when I saw upstairs it is something else..It is superb..
    the decoration is lovely, and the coffee is even better than Bar Italia. I thought the owner and the staff were very friendly.

  • Reply julie February 25, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    this place is really great.to make what it is now from a video shop u have to see it with ur own eyes.the owner is cypriot and he and his wife decorated this place themselves.after a chat with him i can tell he is really passionate about his job. the coffee is delicious too. i’ll be difinitely comin back soon!

  • Reply Gaby March 19, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    do you know what time it shuts as it looks perfect for a nightcap. X

    • Reply cheriecity March 19, 2010 at 4:09 pm

      It’s open from 8am to 11pm, so it would be good for a nightcap. Great if you’ve been for a vietnamese meal on kingsland road.

  • Reply uberVU - social comments March 20, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

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  • Reply Olivia April 1, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    went there on March 31st with my daughters(adult).The savoury spinach slices were lovely and the coffee very good. The atmosphere was very romantic and it would be a superb place to chill with a book for an hour or an alternative to going to the pub. Suggestion would be to have some magazines and/or newspapers on the table to encourage extra coffee purchases. Well done on a beautiful venture-I’ll be back….

  • Reply Selena August 2, 2010 at 10:39 am

    Does anyone have a contact number for this place, as I’ve looked everywhere and can’t find one!

    • Reply cheriecity August 2, 2010 at 11:09 am

      I can’t find one either. They don’t have a website, so perhaps they don’t have internet or a phone line.

  • Reply Jools Stone November 25, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    I was taken here on a tripbod tour of east London and absolutely loved it! What a find in the city! Lovely guy that runs it too, rounded down price of our coffees! Nice pics & write up, will link to it in my post. Cheers

  • Reply +VIL January 30, 2011 at 10:13 am

    The ambience is something rather unexpected for a Shoreditch enterprise. It does take you to a different place in space and time. Rico, one of the business partners, did a fantastic job on the deco!

  • Reply Under the Bridge « Daniel Agnew February 8, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    […] human decay, I found myself walking along one of the oldest roads in England and discovered the Bridge Coffee House. While Hiram Bingham’s legacy is unlikely to be threatened by a new coffee shop in […]

  • Reply Acceleratedstall June 8, 2011 at 1:26 am

    I was just at The Bridge last week. Great coffee, fun beers, scrumptious baklava and outstanding customer service topped off my night. I’ll return, often.

  • Reply A Local London Travel Guide: Let Me Show You Around… « Global Socialite November 25, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    […] hand or have peppermint tea and cake on sumptuous sofas at 3am (read this excellent write up on the Bridge coffee house if this appeals. I’ll see you […]

  • Reply Nicole - Living In London Guide December 18, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    Love this place – visited for the first time today and have been raving about it to anyone who’ll listen ever since! Their cappuccino’s are amazing!

  • Reply jojo December 31, 2011 at 10:17 am

    went to the bridge for the very first time yesterday 30/12/11 to my amazement is was taken in by the beautiful decor, its like a blast from the past, pleasantly tranquil, very friendly staff, ideal place for a chat and chill, while taking in the atmosphere ,prices, reasonable definitely will return. thanks.

  • Reply Al February 4, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    I thought this place was in camden ? Awesome coffee though& cake !

    • Reply cheriecity February 4, 2012 at 10:39 pm

      Yeah, it’s at the bottom of Kingsland Road in Shoreditch. It’s lovely and cosy, especially when it’s cold outside!

  • Reply Girl’s outing @ Shoreditch | twist & turn August 28, 2012 at 11:46 am

    […] our stomach nicely lined, we headed to The Bridge.This place is one of the very few places in Shoreditch where you can order tea & cake as well […]

  • Reply A Weekend in London Town: Bubble and Squeak at Borough Market & Treats at the Tramshed « Life is a Peach Blog November 29, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    […] then headed to ‘The Bridge’ on Kingsland Road which at first sight appears to be a typical cafe but venture upstairs and you […]

  • Reply London Links: Weekend 16 | Little London Observationist December 7, 2012 at 8:21 am

    […] going to check out the Bridge Cafe in Shoreditch (quirky old place with a Victorian feel, crazy fushia pink chairs, old photos and […]

  • Reply London Street Art – Part I | From Pennies To Pence February 5, 2013 at 11:16 pm

    […] tour, we headed to The Bridge (couldn’t find a website, but there are some good pictures here) to thaw out, meet the oh-so-talented Stephanie, and sip on the best Latte I have had to […]

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