Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and I LOVE breakfast. Mainly because my tummy is rumbling as soon as I open my eyes in the morning, due to this I must confess I have never been for brunch! Some of you may have recoiled in horror at that fact but this weekend I found out what I have been missing out on. With a free Saturday morning stretched out ahead of me I figured there was no better way to fill it than with food and friendship. My good friend of 25 years was my partner in cake today, or should I say the Ginger to my Fred!
As I was veering away from the norm I continued this theme by heading to Fred & Ginger, technically a coffee shop in contrast to the tea rooms I would normally frequent. Situated on the main high street in the village of Kings Langley, alongside plenty of quirky stores capable of draining your purse. Lot’s of goodies on offer from homeware to jewellery, and artwork to retro sweets.
We managed to nab a table outside in the fresh air, being a popular yet cosy spot it was quite crowded and muggy inside. Juxtaposed with the surrounding historic buildings the interior is modern with an industrial twist. Tables of old floor boards, smartened up just enough, are surrounded by unrefined metal framed chairs. A general sense of reclamation and up-cycling done successfully with clean lines and trendy accessories. The muted colour scheme is lifted with accents of copper, beaten metal and pops of green from unfussy plant life. Naked Edison bulbs are draped from the ceiling on plain black cable, no frills or flounce here, even the staff are clean cut and trendy.
The atmosphere is relaxed, with dogs welcome there was one at nearly every table! You would expect chaos as dogs, children and food collide in a confined space but there remained an air of civility and decorum. As distracting as the puppies were I managed to focus on the food counter for my first brunch experience. I opted for avocado and tomato on toasted sourdough, check me out being all Gwyneth Paltrow!
The tomatoes were sun blushed and just sharp enough to cut through the creamy avocado. It could have done with a bigger kick of herbs or black pepper but I would have willingly devoured another slice…..or two!
The tea menu wasn’t extensive, but what did I expect for a coffee shop?! My normal tipple of choice is Earl Grey but as today was a day of trying new things I went for Chai (rhymes with pie). I am lead to believe that in many parts of the world ‘Chai” means “Tea” so it is, apparently, a little confusing asking for “Chai Tea” as you’re essentially asking for a cup of “tea tea”! But tea snobbery aside the brew was delicious. I chose to drink it black but you can add milk. The flavours of cardamom, cinnamon and vanilla were subtle with just a whisper of christmas. Unfortunately there are no home blends or loose leaf here, but they supply Tea Pigs which is more than acceptable to me.
Being brunch the sweet treats on offer were mostly pastries but I was intrigued by the pear and cardamom loaf which I felt would compliment my chosen brew. Unfortunately the cardamom was so subtle I may not have known it was there had I not been told, however, I appreciated the large chunks of soft, sweet pear throughout the slice. This kept the cake moist (sorry but there is no other word for it!), surrounded by light, crumbly sponge. In fact I noticed the sponge was very crumbly.
With each mouthful I became more suspicious, the mildly grainy texture on my tongue could mean only one thing…… Gluten Free!!!! Staff confirmed my suspicions and I have to confess I wouldn’t have chosen this cake had it been marked up as gluten free (personal preference). That would have been my loss as, despite the distinctive gluten free texture, the cake was fruitfully satisfying. Another tally for the day of firsts.
As we approached lunch time the cafe got very busy with people queuing out the door. Despite this we were never made to feel rushed or in the way. Strangers sat alongside each other on long communal tables. Even if I had been dining alone, as many were, it would have felt like a very social experience.
Another pot of tea later and it was time to leave behind the delicious looking lunch menu salads and the fresh batch of tantalising cakes that were brought out from the kitchen. Everything is made on site and that freshness is evident on every plate. I departed feeling satisfied but not guilty about an over indulgence, Fred & Gingers feels more like a refuel stop for after a yoga class or power walk than a naughty afternoon tea treat. So grab a friend, your dog or a good book and soak up some trendy Westend cafe vibes in this historic village setting.
Fred & Ginger Coffee, 38 High Street, Kings Langley, Hertfordshire TEL: 01923 262420