I’ve been following the progress of Espresso Library for quite a while. It’s always exciting when an independent business makes Cambridge their home. When I attended the prelaunch last month, I was really impressed by what John and Malgo created (truly a labour of love). It was definitely worth the wait. The place is quite spacious (a rarity for Cambridge), with ample seating, Cycloc racks for bike storage, and even a rotating art exhibition (photographer Martin Bond of A Cambridge Diary is currently the featured artist).
We’ve been popping in for their amazing coffee and sweet treats, namely the macarons by Fiona Pâtissière, Norfolk Street Bakery’s Portuguese custard tarts and Stella Pereira’s triple chocolate brownies with raspberry and port, topped with handmade chocolate leaves.
I’m not a coffee drinker but Paulo swears they make a mean espresso and cappuccino, largely due to the impressive Slayer espresso machine (custom made in Cambridge blue and only one of 6 machines in the UK, I believe). Their coffee is sourced by The Coffee Officina and the breakfast/lunch menus are developed in collaboration with the super talented Stella Pereira.
I didn’t have the opportunity until today to try their lunch menu, and I just so happened to visit on their one-month anniversary. The place has been so popular, it definitely feels as though they have been around for longer than that.
Lunch is served from noon to 3pm and the menu changes often, as the focus in on seasonal ingredients. We arrived at 11:30am so the lunch menu wasn’t available yet. The menu items were being freshly prepared so I had a glass of orange juice, which was like drinking a whole orange. I liked the fact that they added an orange wedge right to the glass. Paulo had a cappuccino, of course.
I was intrigued by their hearty bowls of salad with bread. There were two options: Hot Smoked Salmon and Cucumber or Quinoa, Squash and Hazelnut. I chose the salmon salad which featured locally hot smoked salmon, blanched asparagus, mixed leaves, chives and crème fraîche dressing. All the ingredients were very fresh, including the sourdough bread (from Norfolk Street Bakery) that accompanied the salad.
Paulo ordered the Chicken Brioche Bun and not only was the presentation impressive, so was the taste (I tried some of it… how could I resist?). This was a toasted brioche bun filled with slow cooked chicken, pesto rosso (pistachio, sun blushed tomato, basil), shaved golden beets, leaves and orange dressing.
For dessert, we shared a toasted brioche bun with Greek yogurt and honey from their breakfast menu. The flavours were nicely balanced… not sickly sweet in the least.
For a moment I forgot that I was supposed to be in a café, because the food was of such high quality and so expertly prepared. The lunch menu items could easily be found in an upscale restaurant (for twice the price, I’m sure).
Yes, Espresso Library is a beautiful space but it’s not just style over substance. They can back it up with seriously good coffee and a remarkable menu that focuses on healthy eating whilst not forgetting luscious indulgences for the sweet tooth. Espresso Library certainly deliver on all counts!
The owners, managers or staff did not invite me to visit this establishment and were unaware that my experience would be the basis of a written review. It is based on my experience at my own cost and I did not receive compensation for my review.
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