Michaelhouse Café

First post!  How exciting!  Well, first post where I review a place, but hey, still exciting!

Thanks to everyone who came here to read my introductory post, and who shared my link on their newsfeeds!  The response was so positive and encouraging that I got really excited (and kind of hungry) and went out to take pictures of a café in town.  I may have gotten a little too excited, though, because I went to a place I’d never been to before.  I’d passed by Michaelhouse Café (St Michaels Church, Trinity Street) many times before whenever I went from Trinity Street to Kings Parade, but decided that today was the day I’d try it out.   Maybe I was seduced by the spiral ramp heading into the entrance.

Michaelhouse Ramp

Look at that ramp.  So smooth.  So curvy.  Oh baby.  And there are a couple steps on the side for those who don’t want to go down a spiral ramp, y’know, if that’s your thing.

I went down the ramp and it was a bit steeper than I had anticipated, so I had to grip my rims a bit tighter to make sure I didn’t hit the fence on the side.  The entrance at the bottom of the ramp has a downward incline.  As I entered the building, all I could think about was how much arm power would be necessary to get back up the smooth and sexy (and probably slightly dangerous on a rainy day) ramp.

The inside is well-lit and felt very, er, Cambridge-y?

Michaelhouse Interior

There’s a chancel inside the church, and they do hold services there throughout the week.  I really appreciated that they put a ramp down at the chancel entrance.

Michaelhouse Chancel

It says to “mind the step and the ramp.”  Hooray chancel access!  I tried to take a picture of the chancel, but the sun was out (freaky, right?) and there was a bit too much glare in the photo.

Michaelhouse Chancel Full

After I stopped staring at anything that reminded me of medieval architecture, I remembered that I was there for the noms, so I went up to the counter.  It was at a height where I could see all of the pastries, but none of the lunch items.  I’d be a bit miffed if I wanted to get lunch (it was after 3pm, so anything I ordered would’ve been 50% off), but I was there for dessert, so I let it slide.  For now.

Their desserts rotate, but when I was there they had brownies with walnuts, a lemon-almond tart, a frangipane tart with apples, flapjacks (not pancakes – these are oat squares with butter, brown sugar, and golden syrup/honey), and a gluten-free chocolate chestnut cake.  I stared at the counter in my usual indecisive manner and chatted a bit with one of the baristas, who was super friendly and explained what frangipane was.  Sounded good.  I ordered the frangipane (2.95) and a hot chocolate (2.20 for ‘regular’).  The barista brought my tart and hot chocolate over to a table, where he moved away a chair.  He then brought me a fork and some napkins from a station where I think I would’ve had to get them myself if I didn’t have a mobility impairment.

Michaelhouse Frangipane
Frangipane and apple tart.

If you see “frangipane” anything, it just means that the filling was made with almonds (think almond paste).  The bottom of the tart was lined with sliced apples, and maybe it’s my longing for apple pie, but those apples with that almond filling were delicious together.  It wasn’t too sweet either, which can be a danger with anything almond-flavored.  This is usually a concern with almond croissants where you’re 90% sure someone dropped the contents of an entire bottle of almond extract into the filling (you’ll know this has happened if your foodie friends bite into a croissant and start to visibly twitch).

Michaelhouse Hot Chocolate

Then I tried the hot chocolate.  They use Green & Black here, which, for anyone familiar with my baking, is the brand of cocoa powder I use for my chocolate cupcakes, double chocolate chip walnut cookies, and for basically anything that asks for cocoa powder.  The hot chocolate did not disappoint.  If you like your hot chocolate dark, and by that I mean with a slight kick of bitterness, then this is for you.  This is the first place I’ve gone to in Cambridge with a hot dark chocolate, and I will most definitely be back.  They also use Illy coffee, which I love.  Also checked out their bathroom to find that it is indeed wheelchair-accessible, so I can shamelessly drink as much tea and espresso as I want.  Score.

Halfway through my frangipane and hot chocolate, I realized that my actual reason for coming here was to study, so:

Michaelhouse Working
Oh Alemannic minuscule, I think you just want to mess with me on purpose.  What are letters?

Look!  I’m working!  And by that, I mean transcribing documents from the late eighth century to prepare for my test, where I will be examined on my ability to transcribe really old documents.

The café is only open until 5pm (this is fairly standard for Cambridge businesses, and I have never understood why), so I left fairly close to closing time.  I made it up the ramp with a bit of effort, but it definitely wasn’t a bad experience.  Will be back.  Partially because I’ve got some more early medieval scripts to look through, but mostly because I want to try that chocolate chestnut cake with an Illy flat white.

Here’s the TLDR:

Entrance: (smooth and curvy) ramp!  Bit steep, but not too difficult to manage.  I may avoid it if it rains.
Bathroom: Accessible!
Lighting: Excellent
Counter: Too high to see lunch items, high enough to see pastries.
Coffee: Illy, Tea: Pavilion, Hot chocolate: Green and Black (YESSS)
Pastries: Frangipane is delicious, they have a gluten-free chocolate chestnut cake that I want to try.
Other: It’s in a church!

For more information: http://www.michaelhousecafe.co.uk/

Thanks for reading!  Expect the next post within a couple of weeks.  If you like what you read, but think you’ll forget to check back here for updates, you can click “follow” (somewhere on the screen) and get accessible bakery/café reviews in your inbox when they happen!

Val

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