I had my first espresso martini the other day. And I liked it.
Serving up a daily dose of caffeine – however you take it – in Shoreditch, Soho, on the ground floor of The Hoxton in Holborn, Exmouth Market and on the outskirts of Borough Market, the Grind group’s list of locations reads like a hipster’s address book.
Are we surprised? No. This place managed to make drinking on a roundabout cool when the first venue opened above Old Street tube station in 2011. And while you might expect the service to come with a side of attitude, the latest outpost in Covent Garden defied all my cynical expectations. Seems the Grind guys have come up with a winning combination: the pink neon sign, tattooed baristas and industrial chic decor might scream city cool, but this place offers one of the warmest welcomes we have received in London for some time.
The team are humble, too. When presented with the compact share-plate snacking menu, we are told the food is merely supposed to support the drinks – but as we moved from creamy burrata served with earthy beetroot and crispy-on-the-top yet fatty-and-glorious-on-the-bottom pork belly with charred onions through to smashed sweet potato with spiced nuts and yoghurt, it was clear the textural and flavour-packed dishes are an attraction in their own right.
And with everything priced at £5 or £6 it leaves diners able to splurge guilt-free on delicious classic and creative cocktails, including three espresso options – leaving me wondering why I have never combined booze and bean before.
Finishing things off with a Grind affogato we are buzzing – cynics would say it’s the caffeine, but we have seen enough fads come and go to know it is in fact that delicious feeling of finding a reliable central spot that spans breakfast through to dinner and doesn’t break the bank. We’ll raise an espresso martini to that.
A side note: Next up on the hipster hit-list is the recently opened Grind at the White Chapel Building next to Aldgate East tube station.
Contact: Covent Garden Grind – Covent Garden, 42 Maiden Ln, London WC2E 7LJ. Website.