By Carole Saville
Expanding on an already extraordinarily successful theme, Flat White Kitchen brings quirk, charm, and cultured café cuisine to a whole new level. Undoubtedly we’ve all enjoyed the somewhat limited café experience offered by the original Flat White, which opened in 2010. If somehow you’re not acquainted with the quintessentially Durham institution that is Flat White, it’s situated somewhat incongruously next to Klute underneath Elvet Bridge. One major downside of this small establishment is battling throngs of hungover students for seat, table, and coffee. It is also worth mentioning the arctic chill coming through the open café door which, on occasion, can be an uninvited addition when you’re looking for somewhere to huddle up with a welcoming hot chocolate in shelter from the Northern winter.
Flat White Kitchen, however, fits in perfectly on Saddler Street, attractively nestled between Bill’s restaurant and Jack Wills. Complete with aesthetically pleasing bare brick and whitewashed walls, rustic furniture, and gilt-frame mirrors, Flat White Kitchen is a sizeable, comfortable venue which offers a more pleasant and relaxed dining experience than its fellow under Elvet Bridge. Unsurprisingly, it is equally as popular as the original Flat White, creating an atmosphere which is thoroughly warm, welcoming and almost always bustling with throngs of students looking for respite between lectures. It somehow manages to stand out in a city which is largely comprised of cafes and coffee shops competing to be the most unique and charming, simultaneously offering the opportunity to have a casual beverage, lunch, or simply the opportunity to catch up with friends or work.
The menu is extensive in its variety, offering everything from the repertoire of its smaller counterpart and adding a range of delicious breakfast and lunch options. Whilst thriving on the sale of caffeine based beverages (appealing to the credentials of its namesake ‘Flat White’), the drinks menu includes a complement of healthy and innovative smoothies which is a refreshing change from your average café. There is one problem: it’s almost impossible to choose one thing from the menu – everything sounds incredibly good. From your better than average grilled cheese to Korean Fried Chicken, the sandwich menu offers the perfect (if slightly pricey) lunchtime dish. During Michaelmas term, I became quite the regular (yes, I am recognised by the staff now) and can say with confidence that what particularly recommends Flat White Kitchen is its breakfast menu. To be confronted with a stack of roughly ten pancakes covered in blueberry compote and whipped cream at any point of the day is an absolute joy, and they do taste as excellent as they look. In addition to the food, the staff are consistently friendly and helpful, dealing with high demand and potentially awkward seating delays with a friendly smile and easy disposition.
In short, Flat White Kitchen is an excellent addition to Durham’s parade of cafés and restaurants, offering a unique lunchtime experience and, true to its name, a decent cup of coffee.
Photographs: Charlotte Payne and Carole Saville