You could miss the unassuming and understated exterior of Fernandez and Wells in the courtyard of Somerset House so look carefully as it would be a shame to miss out on the superb coffee and delicious food. If the weather is fine then you will see people sitting outside the cafe; if the weather is inclement then head for the north-east corner of Somerset House courtyard. Having visited their Beak Street branch in Soho (reviewed here) I anticipated a real treat.
The owners Jorge Fernandez and Rick Wells set up the original cafe bearing their surnames in Soho and now have four branches across London. The Somerset House branch is a large and elegant deli-cafe with half given over to a bakery and charcuterie from Jorge’s home country, Spain.
The cafe occupies part of the L-shaped property. Inside is light and airy with slate tops and a bar of industrial steel and slate which some how manages to look chic and modern. The first thing you notice as you walk through the doors is the counter piled high with fat croissants and pain au chocolat ready for breakfast or a brunch. Surrounded by “full to bursting” sandwiches, baguettes and paninis and a mouthwatering array of cakes, cookies and tarts.
As usual I ordered a flat white and, after some indecision went for the plum crumble cake. Fernandez and Wells use single-origin beans they have sourced and have them roasted by Hasbean to their specifications. The blend is changed seasonally. The custom blend of coffee they served when I visited makes a mellow, full-bodied flat white. A little more attention needs to be taken in creating the tightly packed small bubbles of the froth that make the perfect flattie; mine was just beginning to head in the direction of a cappuccino.
The generous slice of plum crumble cake would be hard to beat. My wife, who accompanied me on this reviewing outing, chose a date and rose water brownie and by her account was a sheer delight.
Although a tad more expensive than their other branches of Fernandez and Wells the location in Somerset House makes up for it. I am not averse to paying a little extra for quality which is what you get here. You can visit the art galleries, watch seasonal events in the the courtyard or, as we did, head over to the Lyceum Theatre for a matinee performance of The Lion King.
Visit the coffee books page of the Travel Unpacked Shop for books on coffee including guides to coffee bars in London.