It’s not all about the Leicas, Hasselblads and Rolleiflexes but also about mochas, cappuccinos and lattes… welcome to a cafe that’s very rich in personality.
You’ll have to pass by rows and rows of beautiful vintage Minoxes, Leicas, Polaroids, the more modern Nikons and Canons, plus tripods, cases and other equipment before getting to the seating area, but for camera aficionados, the time spent looking at these is just as enjoyable as a delicious coffee. Once you’ve had your fill of the items on display, you can choose from four different seating areas: pick a table in the midst of it all and near the cameras; sit in the nice back room; try the cosy, private basement or head to the outside area. The seating area amongst all the cameras is recommended for the real camera fans, as you can read a photography magazine or have a look at the equipment as you’re sipping your coffee. The rooms, instead, are for those looking for quiet and intimacy. Both are painted partially in red – the rest of the shop is a relaxing sage shade – and are furnished with round tables and chairs in a light wood, comfy black armchairs, a wall bench and a skylight with fairy lights in the back room. Photos and posters of cameras are everywhere, of course.
Don’t be surprised if you hear some of the staff casually commenting on lens flares whilst serving you a cup of brown rice tea. The same level of knowledge is held by many of the customers, but not necessarily all – Camera Cafe is definitely popular with camera buffs but it’s just as appreciated by visitors to the British Museum, PhD students and locals in love with the relaxed atmosphere. Tourists are no doubt attracted by the two computers, which cost a steep 50p for 15 minutes, but there’s also free wi-fi.
At this relaxed cafe, everything is made on the spot. You may wait a little bit longer but you can rest assured that it’s no pre-packaged sandwich you’re getting. There are only a few on offer but they’re all crafted with great care and fresh ingredients. You can order tiger prawns, smoked salmon, honey roast ham, halloumi cheese or roast chicken, either in a sandwich (£3.50) or on ciabatta bread (£3.90). Either option is elegantly presented, cut in half and placed in a small bowl. The tiger prawns are particularly good, with a nice spicy flavour.
Alternatively, you can order a daily special, usually an Asian noodle dish. Choose from vegetable, chicken or tiger prawn chow mein (£6), all freshly made and nicely presented in an immaculate oval plate. To finish things off, try a decadent hot chocolate fudge cake, carrot cake (£2.90), Haagen Dazs ice cream (£2.90) or a pancake with vanilla ice cream (£3.50).
Blackboards around the bar are scrawled with the food and drink available, and one illustrates in great detail how your hot drink is made. The hot drinks (£1.40 – £2.20) include Americano, espresso, cappuccino, latte, mocha and hot chocolate, and a special honey latte is made with honey, espresso and hot milk. Tea costs £1.50 and is served in a pot; pick from classic Earl Grey, Assam, jasmine, brown rice or camomile. Camera Cafe also serves freshly squeezed juices (£2.40), with simple flavours like carrot and ginger, apple and fresh mint and orange. Ice chocolate and ice mocha are also on offer, both served with whipped cream for £2.30.
The Last Word
Camera Cafe is a well kept secret but you’ll soon want to tell everyone you know. Spend a lazy afternoon perusing the shelves of vintage cameras whilst sipping a delicious honey latte – this place is not to be missed!