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Gastronomica Food and Coffee Shop – Reviewed

Gastronomica Food and Coffee Shop – Reviewed

Our honorary Wapping resident, CJ Duffy shares his review of Gastronomica, concluding:

Gastronomica is a Must for any Visitor to Wapping

It is Sunday. It is bright and sunny and here I am again, as I am most weekends, in Wapping. Car duly parked near to The Prospect of Whitby, I stand alone waiting for my friend to arrive. I gaze over at the Wapping Project that snuggles away from the road hiding its surreal delights beneath a Victorian façade. Inside, futuristic furniture sits side by side H.G. Wells like disused machinery that brings to mind rust and dust and the steam driven rise and fall of the industrial revolution.


The waters of Shadwell Basin slap against the quayside as a lone runner pursues a cyclist, a flurry of moorhens bob on gentle waves.

It is nine thirty and I am gasping for a coffee. Dave arrives moments later armed with his camera and a clutch of CD’s for me to listen to. We walk and talk as I thumb through the discs. The Dead Weather looks promising.

We pass the converted warehouses that observe our passing with disinterest and plod onto one of our favourite Wapping haunts, Gastronomica. It is, without fail, always our first port of call.

Greeted by such courtesy and genuine warmth and one of the best cappuccinos in the East End.

It is also here were we are able to sit, preferably at the table by the window, and look at Dave’s artwork while we chat without fear of being disturbed.

Outside a row of flower pots stand in a regimented line. Bizarrely they remind me of Asterix the Gaul, I have no idea why, perhaps it is the way they appear as stragglers at a function, or perhaps it is their non-uniform shapes and sizes. We slip up the three short steps that lead into the shop walking through the open door that sits to the right. The sensual smell of coffee brewing mixes with the tempting aroma of a goat cheese Panini being grilled. A mouth watering display of cakes tempts us but I resist its sugary charm. It is cosy in here;

Cosy and intimate in a very Italian way

There are weary, worn shelves stacked with scrumptious goodies begging to be purchased: packets of pasta, boxes of fresh fruit, and bottles of wine. A pretty, doe eyed, dark haired girl approaches us. She is dressed all in black and carries a small note pad. We order two cappuccinos, a ham toast for Dave and a salmon and artichoke for me. The waitress leaves with a smile before rustling away to the counter to place our order.

coffeeThere is a constant stream of local residents who, presumably, use this relaxed establishment for their Sunday morning beverages. They come and sit down as comfortable as ducks in the eiderdown of their weekend traditions. Some order just drinks while others various food stuffs that takes their fancy. A tall, thin waiter cruises up to a mother and daughter exuding charm and grace; he is the epitome of elegant, polished urbanity. Having taken their order he slips silently away. A family of three have edged in before us and now occupy our favoured window seat. They talk the way people do with hands that flutter like birds around the periphery of their conversation.

Our coffees arrive served in generous white cups which are filled to the top and then coated with a delicious sprinkling of ground chocolate. The taste is sublime, although

One Cup is Never Enough

Not because it isn’t good but rather because it is and so a second serving is de rigueur. Unlike Il Bordello there isn’t a riot of jovial activity but an ambiance of decorous bonhomie that whispers its presence rather than shouts it.

My toast (note to self, none of the usual Americanised words for food – toast and not toastie). It tastes scrumptious, the salmon still relatively moist and the artichoke crisp

We sit, Dave and I, discussing the merits of written words compared to the accompanying images, throwing a variety of ideas into the creative pot. Coffee cups have grown cold with crumbs on the plate where there once was bread. The pretty girl re-appears and we order another round but then again, we always do.

Gastronomica is a must for any visitor to Wapping and is a must for this Wannabe Wappingite.

Review by: CJ Duffy / with David Vigor]

CJ and David also shared their wonderfully illustrated journeyessay of Wapping [...VIEW HERE] on the site in June.

Find Gastronomica Wapping

75 Garnet Street E1W 3QS [...view map] and visit www.gastronomica.co.uk/gastro_wapping.html

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  • Jay

    Hmmmm… i buy a coffee from here on a regular basis. The other day i walked in and to my suprise i was greeted with an arrogant, ….”what do you want?” Imagine how shocked i was!
    I asked for a latte to take away….through-out the whole experience the lady serving me was down right abnoxious, rude and totally bemused that “i” lived in wapping. She was blatantly judging me by my appearence having not see me in the cafe before. her body language showed that she thought she was doing me a fovour, not the fact that im paying them for a service.
    Other guests walked in and at one point she stopped making my coffee to have a 3 minute chat with them. To top it all off, i handed her a sugar sachet and asked for her to add it whilst she made my drink… She refused!!! mumbled something in italian and turned her back to me.
    Any other day i would have paid for the coffee then split it all over the restaurant floor whilst walking out. but that day i bit my upper lip , took the abuse and walked out with my head held high without being fazed
    On the flip side the other staff members here are very warm and welcoming and always show a smile even if im just walking past.
    10 out of 10 for venue,
    9 out of 10 for variety
    1 out of 10 to whoever hired that rude girl.

  • http://www.whatsinwapping.co.uk What’s in Wapping

    Hi Chris
    Have taken from the website as there’s now a page added for Wapping at http://www.gastronomica.co.uk/gastro_wapping.html

    Opening Hours
    Monday to Thursday, 8am–8pm
    Friday, 8am-11pm
    Saturday, 9.30am-11pm
    Sunday, 9.30am-8pm 

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Gastronomica in Wapping: Food and Coffee Shop Reviewed -- Topsy.com

  • http://www.WhatsinWapping.co.uk What’s in Wapping

    All – please can you keep the comments to subject of the article – Gastronomica Cafe. Further comments here on other subjects will be deleted as they’re not helpful for people interested in finding out about Gastronomica
    Thank you

  • Flash-Harry

    CJ, a few points:

    I could happily accept any number of cockney idioms or vernacular by a local of any age, as they would be used without pretension. You may well be ex-Fleet Street, though that means very little given its output (I would suggest that in the absence of an editor you check your spelling, punctuation and grammar when producing published material, regardless of how ‘punk’ this site is).

    I’m quite happy not to write poetry, and certainly not for public consumption. I would however consider what I learnt at school; that is, tailoring the style of writing for the purpose and the audience you are writing for. If I was you, take my points, particularly on your poor use of metaphor and develop yourself as a writer.

    Anyone who does produce material for public consumption, be it art, poetry or literature should be happy for it to be critiqued without needing ad hominem attacks on the right of an individual to express an opinion based on their user name (is CJ Duffy a particularly original username?).

  • CJ Duffy

    Dear, dear, dear. What a lot of fuss about nothing. Please do not waste your energies either slagging me off or defending me. I understand Fiona being upset for no one likes a clever dick even if he is a Flash Harry but hey, I am ex-Fleet Street and my skin is as thick as Harry perceives my prose to be.
    I think the unimaginatively named ‘Flash Harry’ has a point, I am not a food or restaurant critic but then again I didn’t write pretending that i am. Perhaps I should have been less verbose and more direct, more succinct but this is not The Times. This site is as punk or as D.I.Y as you could want which is precisely what a community web site should be. It should be all inclusive and allow the local people to air their views and write as well or as badly as they are able. What would Harry’s reaction have been to a sweet old lady of 86 who wrote her piece in ‘Gawd Blimeys’ and ‘gertchas’ or even just in the self-consciously way that might be natural to her?

    Personally, when there is something on TV that I don’t like I simply turn over or turn off. Rather than behave in a negative fashion, which is the easiest thing to do with or without an imagination or a creative bone in your body, it might be easier and less antagonistic, just to tut tut quietly to oneself and then pick up an article by A.A Gill Man (whoever he is).

    As I say, this was a review written with respect for the site, the area and the café. This is only the second such thing I have done for nearly twenty years. Thank goodness Flash Harry doesn’t write poetry for I dread to think what we all might say about that.

    God bless Flash Harry and all who sails in him!

  • Flash-Harry

    Fiona, agreed, though I will say I found your summary far more useful, similarly I thought Paul B’s review of Coffique was very good.

  • Fiona

    Let’s agree to disagree Flash-Harry as for a cafe or restaurant for that matter the “feel” is as important at the food in my view. In any case I’ll look forward to reading one of your reviews to see how it “should be done”!

    But since this is about Gastronomica not writing style I’d like to add that I agree with what’s written – ie. a nice place to relax or work with a great coffee, snacks, food and desserts are excellent and Italian style. The staff vary a lot but all are friendly and smile …which makes it feel like a nice place.

    So if any doubt I would recommend it :)

  • Flash-Harry

    @Fiona, I’m sorry to upset, but we clearly have very different ideas about what we need from a review. There was very little about the shop in the review. It is 159 words in before any information is given. In my opinion the review is an exercise in creative writing. I don’t know if CJ Duffy wants to make a living from his writing but I think he needs better focus and editing. I am very much a Giles Coren/AA Gill man and I think it fair to say no newspaper would publish a review of this style.

    Metaphor, meter and other skills can be very effective tools in language but need to be used in a tight and restrained fashion. The examples of the eiderdown and the flurry of moorhens are examples of what in my opinion is poorly executed literary technique.

    The writing may capture the feel, but none of the facts.

  • Fiona

    Me too and think it passes on the feel of the cafe really well. Only thing missing is pricing which is useful to know. It’s a great place.
    Flash-Harry is negative and insulting in everything he’s written so far – wonder if he has a good word to say about any one or thing.

  • Flash-Harry

    You might enjoy it, but it is still self indulgent! If you weren’t aware of gastronomica as a local that isn’t the kind of review that would make you head to Wapping for a coffee.

  • Brock

    I enjoyed the review; particularly like the sound of the pretty,doe-eyed, brunette….

  • Flash-Harry

    Without intending to be offensive (I appreciate what follows will make that sound redundant), but this is singularly the worst review of a coffee shop I have ever read. It is so self-indulgent that it makes me embarrassed to read it, as though I’ve opened a love struck 17 year old’s diary mourning the loss of his paramour.

    It’s so bad, my wife, one of the most tolerant and kind-hearted people I know, telephoned me from her lunch break to ridicule it.

    I hate to be negative, but in future a few pointers that might be considered in writing a review of a coffee shop and delicatessen on a local website rather than the reject pile of Granta:
    -Price: how much does the coffee and food cost, is it good value
    -Produce: what coffee do they use, what is the range of food they offer
    -Taste: ‘scrumptious’ is not sufficient without explaining why, similarly why was the coffee good
    -Service: tell me what the service was like- quick, leisurely, knowledgeable etc, I don’t need a summary of their stationery order.

    Generally focus on the essentials- reviews, like essays should be like a ladies skirt, long enough to cover the essentials, short enough to keep interest (I hope you’ll enjoy that as you like mentioning the pretty girl). Telling me that something looks like a duck wearing an eiderdown makes no sense (only eider ducks have eiderdowns). Similarly, I’m not certain that “a flurry of moorhens bob on gentle waves” makes sense- flurry means a short burst of activity, bob is an on going gentle movement.

    Rant over. Looks like everyone’s a critic, even if not of coffee shops.

    PS what is “polished urbanity”?

  • Chris

    Thanks for the review and agree about the “Italian feel” of the place and everything else you’ve said.
    Out of everywhere in Wapping to have a coffee and relax or do some work this is the best by far …and didn’t even know it had WiFi until reading this either!