Let’s just get the obvious pun out of the way immediately:
Looking for great espresso in the heart of London? Urine for a treat!
Ahhh, that’s a load off my mind. I’ve been carrying that around in my head for weeks.
I can safely say that no tour of London’s espresso scene would be complete without a visit to The Attendant, a few blocks up from Oxford Circus. And it’s not because of the espresso, which is perfectly delicious, or the food, which looks equally good. It’s really the location itself that makes The Attendant your Number One destination to relieve yourself of your thirst for coffee.
Unlike many of London’s hole-in-the-wall espresso bars, this place is more of a hole-in-the-ground, specifically what might euphemistically be called a “Victorian men’s convenience”. In other words a toilet, built in the 1890s, decomissioned in the 1960s, and reopened about five years ago as a cheerful, brightly lit cafe. The inevitable renovation to enable the space’s new purpose was deliberately, humorously minimal. The plumbing is all still in place. A wooden counter was installed at bar height across the tops of the urinals, and the baristas work in what used to be the attendant’s office.
Let me put your mind at ease: the space is impeccably clean. It retains the visual and acoustic properties of its former purpose, without the olfactory. But the cognitive dissonance must be savoured; as one food writer said, “I find the whole concept rather heart-warming; the essence of why I live in London all wrapped up in one woman’s right to eat almond-milk porridge or vanilla-dipped French toast where a thousand Victorian men once pointed their bits.”