CoffeeBeer >> Double Shot Buzz >> Ambulo
Recently the cafe at the Millennium Gallery was closed for refurbishment. When it re-opened, it had a nice new name and is intended as both a daytime cafe and an early evening bar. After a recommendation from a fellow customer of one of my nearby espresso purveyors, I decided I should try it out, especially as it’s very close to where I eat my lunch every day before work.
So this past week I managed to dodge the rain and stop in. When I stopped into Ambulo I was struck by how very pretty and clean the place is. The walls are completely glass, which always appeals to me, which I suppose means I’m a bit of an exhibitionist. Two of the window-walls look out onto Arundel Gate and one peers into the entrance lobby of the galleries. The counter is where it was before, on the rear nonglass wall. The tables are sparsely arranged, all off-white with white chairs and mint green accents here and there: plastic corrugated panels, glass insets, sugar bowls and cream pitchers all mirror the mint green Museum entrance. I had the feeling that if I licked the table or the wall it would all taste minty.
But don't worry, I restrained myself...
I spotted a couple of former Gallery Trike baristas working here, including the Turkish woman who was gradually teaching me Turkish. But it had been so long since I’d seen here that I forgot to say "merhaba".
After ordering my drink I sat at a window table at the side -- or I suppose it was actually a table against the side glass wall. Or perhaps I should just call it a window, as that’s technically what it was. My double macchiato was served in a mint green macchiato cup and saucer, with white interior and a demitasse spoon. It was perfectly made, with a lovely crema ring setting off the smooth white foam. I couldn't help noticing the brown crema in its white-lined mint green cup matched the brown sugar cubes in their white-lined mint green bowl.
It would have been a huge disappointment if, after all this gentle sweet massaging of my colour-matching sensibilities, the coffee had turned out to be not very good. But actually it was quite nice, strong but smooth and friendly, like the strong but smooth and friendly person who was consuming it.
Okay, I'll stop with the overly poetic but symmetrically based comparisons for a moment. As I was surrounded by glass, my main view on this thankfully slightly less rainy day was of Sheffield Hallam University’s long and tall Owen Building, on top of which I was fortunate enough to take a rooftop tour a couple of years ago. To the right of my view was Hallam Square with a perfect perspective on the brick mural of vultures, which commissioned in 1980 by Sheffield City Council. To my right I had a full view of the Novotel and, just beyond it St Paul’s Tower, the tallest building in Sheffield at 331 feet. And just beyond the windows were plenty of topiaried trees and bushes in concrete planters. I also noticed the simple mint-specked off-white rectangular tiles of Ambulo’s floor parallel the pale grey concrete rectangular tiles of the pavement outside...and once again I was basking in my own personal mathematically congruent universe while probably, at this point, irritating my readers.
So I'll end with mentioning the menu. Breakfasts include such items as sourdough toast, homemade muesli and granola, a full English, breakfast sandwiches, eggs Benedict -- or Florentine or with smoked salmon -- kedgeree soldiers, and poached egg on avocado toast. The lunch menu includes seasonal specials, burgers, falafels, a fish finger sandwich, big hearty salad bowls, a Korean fried chicken crumpet, chargrilled chicken, and various desserts. All the food stops at 5pm, but you can still get coffees, teas, soft drinks, smoothies juices, homemade sodas, wine, beer, and cocktails, the latter three on tap. I have to admit I’ve never had a gin and tonic on tap.
Apparently Ambulo was co-founded by Matt Helders, drummer and co-founder of the Arctic Monkeys, and their second Ambulo will open later this summer in Sheffield’s Weston Park Museum.
Oh, and one last thing, if you chromaphobes can stand it: I didn’t notice until the end of my visit that there are dark blue accents as well: in the napkins, in the staff shirts, in the print in the menus, and in the tiniest specks in the floor. I can’t help wondering what the inside of the kitchen looks like.
Having just dealt, rather harshly, with my smartphone insisting that I write “chroma phones” instead of “chromaphobes” makes me think of a very recent Facebook posting with one of my artist friends:I am trying my hardest to take notes at a work meeting on my iPad, but it insists upon auto-typing haiku against my will.