Here on the Isle of Dogs, among the milk-and-water housing estates that surround it, this Victorian black and red brick building cuts a strange and handsome figure.
It was built in the mid 19th century as St Paul's Chapel — the foundation stone laid in 1859. Because of the scores of Scottish workers who came here around that time — working on Brunel's SS Great Eastern, among other ships — it became known as the Scottish Church.
When the church closed in the 1970s, it was used for industrial storage. That didn't exactly bode well for its future, but with the vocal support of Ian McKellen among others, St Paul's became an arts centre in 1989, and is now known as The Space.
It's the café we're focussing on here though — Hubbub. It might not have been going quite as long as the adjoining arts space, but neither is Hubbub some hip flight of fancy that's materialised in the last couple of years — it's been here since 1998.
Walk round the right hand side of the church, through the little beer garden, and up a narrow stairwell. This little guy might greet you:
You emerge into this light-flooded attic room (the electric chandeliers switched on nonetheless). On a weekday lunchtime, there's a decent pub, with one or two punters — clearly locals — propping up the bar.
The books stacked along the window ledge suggest they want to keep you here a while (or actually, given the subject of some of these books, neck a quick espresso and hop it).
Talking of coffee, the range here is impressive, including Americano, flat white, iced coffee and mocha. It's echoed by a weighty food and drink menu [pdf]. Hubbub looks like a solid brunch spot — offering eggs Benedict, full English, French toast and the like. The lunch menu when we visited featured sea bream with roasted fennel and creamy mash, and a honey ham sandwich with fries. Or come for steak and burger night:
All rather more pleasant and personal than the stuff you'll find in the chains outside Canary Wharf.
By the way, if you're seeking out something stronger than coffee, the shelves behind the bar suggest that Hubbub has you covered:
When you're on your way out, you'll be seen off by this chap:
Like drinking coffee in odd and interesting places? Check these out, too: