Hatter House Cafe, Clare Street: Review

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Hatter House Cafe - Exterior

 

So, number 9 Clare Street in the city centre is now home to another new coffee shop – the Hatter House Cafe. It opened in April 2019, but with so much competition in the area, how will it stand out from the rest?

If you’re a cold brew fan, you have your answer. 

As well as the regular hot drinks menu – a range of Suki Teas, coffees (ranging from £1.80 for an espresso to £3.10 for a large mocha), coffee over ice, frappé ice blends and hot chocolate – there’s cold brew on draught, too. 

That’s right, on draught. As far as I’m aware, the Hatter House Cafe is the first place in Bristol to serve nitro cold brew coffee from draught beer-style taps on the counter, and there are three different options – both single origin and blends – to choose from, too. 

The Sumatra Mandeling is the lightest roast, progressing to the Peru Tunki (medium) and the Steel City Blend (dark), all priced at £2.70 per glass. And if you go to the counter querying which one to go for, like I did, they’ll happily give you a little taste before you buy, too.

 

Hatter House Cafe - Nitro Cold Brew Taps

 

It’s a cosy place to sit and enjoy a coffee or a bite to eat, with a slightly edgier vibe than its predecessor. A couple of girls with laptops were perched on the counter next to the window taking advantage of the free WiFi when we arrived, just opposite the huge Nick Walker mural painted on one wall. And to cement the coffee shop’s name, there’s high shelving on the other side of the café where you’ll find a small display of bowlers and top hats.

 

Hatter House Cafe - Mural

 

There’s a tall chiller cabinet with homemade sandwiches, soft drinks and yoghurts to choose from, while the counter chiller houses salads (pasta pesto salad and tabbouleh when we were there), both sweet and savoury pastries, and all manner of cakes and other baked sweet treats, from pesto and tomato twists to a gluten-free vegan flapjack. 

They’re clearly up to speed on catering for all sorts of dietary requirements: as well as the flapjacks there were gluten-free brownies, plus the choice of various milks – including coconut, oat, soy and almond – for hot drinks. 

Cold brew and cake seemed like a sensible option to me. And the red velvet (£3) was calling my name. Dense and fudgy with thick layers of chocolate cream, there were two things that surprised me about it. The first was that instead of the expected cream cheese frosting, it was topped with a thick, sticky and incredibly sweet marshmallow fluff-type affair, which actually balanced out the cake’s slight acidity pretty damn well. 

The second? Its retro presentation, with a flourish of squirty cream topped with swirls of chocolate sauce…most unexpected in a place whose USP is serving the most modern of coffees.

 

Hatter House Cafe - Nitro Cold Brew and Red Velvet Cake

 

And the nitro cold brew? Well, I went for the Steel City Blend – the darkest roast – which was served in a tall glass and resembled a stout, even with a bit of a head (although not as much as I was expecting).

While it was tasty enough – incredibly rich and strong with a hint of fruitiness, it was a little more bitter than I was expecting, and didn’t have that creamy, silky mouthfeel that I’d associate with nitro cold brew. 

It’s a great idea – a good way to stand out from the crowd, in an area with so many coffee shops vying for attention. But I’d be intrigued to hear others’ thoughts, too – if you’ve tried the nitro cold brew at Hatter House Cafe, leave a comment and let me know what you thought! 
 

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