Hot Numbers – Gwydir Street, Cambridge (UK)

In 2011 coffee shop Hot Numbers opened its first location at Dale’s, the decommissioned brewery on Gwydir Street just off Cambridge’s vibrant Mill Road. Combining owner Simon Fraser’s love for coffee and music, Hot Numbers was named after the former record store in neighbouring Kingston Street (check out the restored mural/ghost sign there).

Since then, Hot Numbers has firmly established itself as an independent specialty coffee company with the addition of a roastery, a coffee wholesale business, a second site on Trumpington Street and an extensive refurbishment at the original location. Hot Numbers hosts a variety of musical, artistic and foodie events such as live music, vinyl listening nights, art exhibitions and weekly food trucks. A unique spot in Cambridge, Hot Numbers delivers the whole package as a place for social interaction, fuelled by quality coffee, drinks and food. It’s firmly on its way to becoming a Cambridge institution.

It’s evident that Hot Numbers strives for progress and maintains a competitive edge, as any good business would do. After all, at one time Mill Road was severely lacking in quality food and drink establishments but it is thriving now. Not resting on its laurels, Hot Numbers has recently developed an exciting new brunch menu for their Gwydir Street location that stands out from run-of-the-mill offerings. It’s a bold move rendered possible by completely changing the kitchen and bringing in a development chef/consultant so the food can be made in-house. The result strikes the perfect balance between innovation and familiarity. It’s an inventive menu that elevates the humble brunch from the norm yet still retains familiar elements.

It all kicks off at 7:30am with “breakfasty” options available till 11am. Choose from apricot yoghurt panna cotta with roasted peaches and granola, coconut milk porridge with raspberries, as well as freshly baked cornbread with three choices for toppings (honey & goats cheese, raspberries & Greek yoghurt and peaches & whipped ricotta).

The all day (7:30am to 3pm) brunch menu is intrepid with two kimchi based dishes but it still features comforting staples such as avocado on bread, eggs (poached, scrambled or fried) and toast & jam.

Paulo and I are fans of kimchi, a Korean specialty made with fermented napa (Chinese leaf) cabbage and other vegetables, so we ordered the Kimchi & Feta Eggs and Bacon & Kimchi Benedict. The kimchi was spot on, not too spicy but still retaining some spiciness for a good hit of flavour.

Chilli fiend Paulo chose wisely as the Kimchi & Feta Eggs contained a spicy gochujang (fermented chilli paste) tomato sauce that, along with the finely chopped kimchi, was nicely offset by the feta cheese. This hearty dish also included two fried organic free-range eggs, coriander, spring onion and toasted sesame. Paulo upgraded to their amazing cornbread (which I highly recommend) rather than having it with toast. The dish was so flavourful Paulo was tempted to lick the remaining sauce from the bowl!

Never one to resist some piggy goodness, I opted for the Bacon & Kimchi Benedict and it was a real festival of flavours. The dish looked stunning too (so Insta-worthy!) but it wasn’t a case of style over substance. It was expertly prepared so there is clearly a talented chef in their kitchen!

The smoked streaky bacon was perfectly crispy and once devoured, revealed the full extent of the thick, glossy hollandaise sauce spooned over two poached organic free-range eggs. A sprinkling of spring onion and toasted sesame complemented the zesty lime and mirin flavours of the hollandaise. The eggs sat on a bed of spicy kimchi and fresh cornbread, making this dish one delicious stack!

I enjoyed my meal with a cup of Earl Grey Kandula tea (my favourite). Of course, no visit to Hot Numbers is complete without their famous coffee… so Paulo had two cups. I had some of his. I’m not a big fan of the taste of coffee but I do like Hot Numbers milk-based coffee, which is saying a lot!

The made-in-house focaccias are worthy of a mention too. Beautifully presented with their delectable fillings in clear view, I salivated as I watched them being delivered to other tables. There are five different “sandwiches” made with this soft, thick bread, served with a range of delectable ingredients like bacon, egg, cheese, merguez sausage, harissa, avocado, tomato and feta.

Hot Numbers’ new brunch menu isn’t extensive (rightly so) but there’s a lot there to merit many return visits to their Gwydir Street location. Appealing to the eyes and palate, the menu is a real winner!

I was invited by Hot Numbers to sample the new brunch menu. Although the food and drinks were complimentary, all views are my own. I did not receive compensation for my review.

Unless otherwise noted, I am the legal copyright holder of the content and images on this blog. Please contact me for permission if you wish to use, reprint or publish any material.

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