In a nutshell:
-a little spot of solace parked right in the middle of the West End – perfect during a busy day of shop hopping or catching a show
-come here for brunch, lunch, even dinner – the coffee excels on all accounts
-a rare find – come before the secret gets out
Around the West End area of London, good independent coffee shops are hard to stumble into. You are much more likely to find one of the Caffè Neros lining the streets (there are about three lining every street in this area). To locate a good independent one, you have to know where you’re going, as they are often tucked away in corners, humbly sitting behind the loud shiny ones.
Lundenvic sits as modest as can be in the most arrogant of locations. Situated right next to Tina Turner the musical and next door to the Delaunay, it offers everything one needs after a long day of walking around in central London – a place to chill out, to eat and drink, without any of the pumping energy of the West End. What’s more, there’s almost always a place to sit down – perhaps not enough people have caught onto how just how brilliant this place is yet (so read this and then burn it).
Walking in, its minimalist Scandinavian design gives a clean, modern welcome, and some funky beats underpin the decision process as you take in their impressive pastry range. But downstairs holds the real surprise. Quite unexpectedly, one room leads to the next and it reveals something like a snug. As you step down into the second room, comfy armchairs await you, an arched ceiling curves around you like a big hug, and plants and artwork invite you to spend the whole afternoon here.
They use beans from London coffee roasters, Assembly Coffee, which is making waves in the coffee world right now. I had about 5 coffees in a week, ranging from lattes to flat whites to espressos, and they were all well balanced, made with care and with top latte artwork, no matter which barista served me. Alternative milk options available and different blends available too, from a second London based coffee roasting giant, Square Mile.
“It finds the balance in appealing to a whole host of tastes and needs, so you’re not having to get your coffee from one place and a meal from another”
There is another surprise. They do food here as well – proper food. The pastry and cake range is impressive (for a person with a nut allergy the choice is rather depleted) but where they shine is in their variety – from breakfast, to quick lunches and and hearty meals, it ticks all the boxes. Like Mac and Jac’s in Malvern, it finds the balance in appealing to a whole host of tastes and needs, so you’re not having to get your coffee from one place and meal from another. Breakfast is a proper affair, from avocado on toast, to coconut milk porridge, banana bread and eggs; salads include their grain salad with chickpeas, bulgar wheat, beluga lentils and paprika dressing (mix and match with others); or try your hand at their warm dish by dunking a wedge of sourdough into their coconut dahl.
All in all:
This is not just a cute little coffee shop; this is a damn fine bakery, a brunch spot, a snug and a hang out. And the more times you visit the more enamoured you will become (trust me, I’m on my 5th visit in a week).
I don’t know how they do it, but there is an atmosphere similar to what one might expect in a coffee shop in a slow, quiet town – yet this is in the bustling West End. The contrast is so welcome and whether you’re in there to start the day or to end the day, your mood will be brighter and more balanced because of it. Worth the visit ten fold for locals and visitors alike. You won’t be disappointed.
Want to try it at home? Get your very own bag of Assembly Coffee here or Square Mile coffee here.
Things to know:
-wheelchair accessible (only top floor with limited seating)
-alternative milk options
–Music: fun and funky. Think Liquid Love by Roy Ayers to get you in the mood
–Opening times: 7am-7pm (Mon-Fri); 10am-7pm (Sat); 10am-4pm (Sun)
–Address: 45 Aldwych, Holborn, London WC2B 4DW
–Website: www.lundenwic.com (new website coming soon)
Recommended things to do nearby:
-catch a West End show. Great ticket deals through TodayTix
-head over the river to go to The Old Vic, the National Theatre – two power houses in British theatre. Or why not catch a bit of comedy/tragedy at Shakespeare’s Globe, depending on your mood
–BFI Southbank for the best of films, new and old
–Somerset House for all sorts – notably their ice rink at Christmas and their outdoor cinema in the summer
–Covent Garden for the best of shopping, street artists and fine dining
–IMAX cinema, just over Waterloo Bridge
–Sarastro for cocktails and dinner with a fun, operatic twist
–National Portrait Gallery – right by Trafalgar Square and within easy walking distance from Lundenwic, see some of the most exquisite portraits from all over the world
–Tate Modern – just over the river, this great for the family too
–Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese – possibly London’s most famous pub. Regular visitors included Samuel Johnson and Charles Dickens
-Just a stone’s throw away from the River Thames, catch a ferry or even hire a boat from Temple Pier
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