On my way to Look Mum No Hands
I am due at a work event in London and beforehand have the opportunity to drop into Look Mum No Hands! for a coffee, cake and a quick review. It is the Old Street cafe I’m heading for, in EC1. To be honest I can’t remember where the idea came from to do this but I think I’m looking forward to it. Having said that I am going to be a bit conspicuous enroute to the the work event and not dressed as a young trendy cyclist, but then, do I care? Does anyone care? This, BTW is one of the benefits of being 50 something; and I can tell you I like being in this age bracket as is the BEST yet! I digress.
Anyway, I found it easily enough, not to be mistaken for the Mr Bicycle shop a few doors along. Outside there is a courtyard with space to park bicycles and a few outside tables. There are some little lights strung over the top which will probably add to a nice ambience on a balmy summer’s evening.
First thing I clocked when I went inside was a bicycle workshop. This is cool. How may other cafes are there with integrated bicycle workshops? Or is it the other way around? It has a nicely busy feel to it with the workshop spilling out into the cafe with various wheels hanging from the ceiling. There’s quite a lot to take in, with various bits of cycling memorabilia scattered around, books, flyers, leaflets adding to the identity and atmosphere.
There’s a window cill running the length of the cafe, it’s really deep and displays some interesting and novel bikes; great to see this space was being used to good effect. I remember thinking “Yes, that’s just how I would do it, if this was my place”.
It was fairly quiet, not many people and meaning I got served instantly with a pastry and an Americano coffee. The coffee was pleasant, not bitter but a little cooler than optimum temperature, even cooler as I added milk. The pastry was disappointing greasy. The other cakes on offer looked okay and there was a reasonable selection of snacks and light meals but nothing especially healthy looking! Still, £5 for a coffee and a pastry in London isn’t expensive.
Looking at the website they do a few extras, in terms of events. These include periodic singles evenings, bike jumble, knitting (!), screening of bike events etc. This is neat. If I owned a cafe, I’d be doing things like this.
Who else was there?
The other customers were well spaced out (in terms of where they were sitting) and were mostly in pairs, everyone taking their time and there was no sign of any rush. That’s good but then, they weren’t busy. I simply hate cafes where there is some obligation to gulp your coffee and food to make room for the next person. A lady customer was Skyping and one or two others looked as if they were having a professional meeting. If this is a place where a customer would meet a client, that is refreshing compared to the usual over-priced places where this would happen.
Overall I quite liked the place itself; I liked the cycle theme with it being fairly general. It wasn’t overtly a campaigning, or a TdF, fixie, messenger or anything else in appeal and this is positive. The last thing that should happen is to further the emergence of more cycling tribes. Even worse would be to exclude some types. And yet you don’t have to be a cyclist to be a customer here so that is something very positive.
I wasn’t impressed with my pastry, or the coolness of the coffee which otherwise tasted fine. I think I’d do the menu slightly differently but overall it’s pretty good and welcoming. I dare say it would be easy to fall in love for a place like this as you get to know the menu and staff and have your bicycle tuned up, all at the same time. In fact, you can even fall in love there as there is a speed-dating event on their website!
Their website: Look Mum No Hands
Related: The benefits of being 50