161 Whitecross Street, London, EC1Y 8JL
I first found out about Fix on a lazy autumnal weekend late last year. We’d met friends for brunch, in the Clerkenwell area, before stopping by Bunhill Fields Cemetery. It was there that my partner remembered a quirky coffee shop “famous for its loos” just around the corner. He also recalled that it was there that he was refused service, for the first and only time in his long coffee drinking life, a few years before. Unsurprisingly sceptical, I reluctantly agreed to accompany him. The reasonably priced flat white I ordered was scrummy, and I lodged it in my memory for the future.
This branch of Fix is located just a few minutes’ walk from both Old Street and Barbican stations, on a reasonably traffic-free road that also hosts a market, which is described by some as “London’s best food market”.
The door is on the corner of the shop, so the café quickly opens out in front of you when you walk in, with the bar diagonally in front of you. A nice mix of tables with chairs, and sofas make the shop look welcoming. The first thing I did on my maiden visit, was to visit the “famous” loos. The first thing I noticed was that there were two toilets next to each other with no partition. This family-style toileting setup was made even more weird by the paintings of unicorns doing questionable things, which covered the walls. Sadly, the unicorns have now been painted over, which definitely takes away some of the charm that this toilet had.
The biggest let down at Fix is the lack of customer service. It is fast and efficient, but doesn’t go beyond that. As a customer, it feels like they just don’t give a damn beyond saying hello. Also, I realised last week that customers that are drinking in have to wait at the end of the bar to take their drinks to their table. I’d ordered three coffees for my table, and had to make two trips to retrieve them. I was really unimpressed with this – I’ve never had to serve myself coffee when ordering to drink-in anywhere else, and that’s what it felt like.
At the other end of the scale, the coffee is a big plus point. A flat white is at the cheaper end of the scale in London, at £2.50, and they also do a loyalty card! They use coffee sourced from Caravan for decaf, Climpson and Sons for filter, and their signature coffee is a mix of Ethiopian and Peruvian blends.
I recently visited with my “coffee club” colleagues. One of them, who seems to have a very similar taste in coffee to me, had both a Long Black and a Flat White on that trip, and was equally impressed by both. I had my usual, and was not left disappointed, so had a second to take away just before we left. It’s very tasty, and at just the right temperature.
It is apparent that the guys at Fix don’t take themselves too seriously – as demonstrated by the inappropriately posing unicorns in the toilets (RIP), and the funny quotes they write on their pavement signs. The great coffee and low prices outweigh the below-par service, so overall Fix is one of the better coffee shops in London.
Anything else: extra points for the quirky atmosphere and sense of humour
Overall score: 80%
126 Curtain Road, London, EC2A 3PJ