6 Degrees

June 27, 2017

 

IMG_3166Six Degrees is in many ways a modest little café on the busy London Rd. It serves excellent coffee from Leicester’s St Martin’s (soya and oat milk available for vegans), lovely cakes from “a lady in Wigston”, a nice line in freshly made sandwiches (bacon, brie and sweet chilli, peri peri chicken etc) and light snacks.

But what makes it particularly noteworthy is that is that is run by the Leicester charity Open Hands Trust and 100 per cent of the profits go to helping vulnerable and underprivileged local people with clothes, food, furniture and help with issues such self-esteem, English language and pre-school provision.  There’s a small core of paid staff backed by a team of 30 volunteers, who range from retired folk to youngsters seeking a bit of work experience to regular customers who just like the idea and want to contribute.

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The shop was apparently a dream of manger Hazel Nash  – as in she literally had a dream about running a café  – which chimed with the ambitions of the charity. It’s been open for just over a year and the combination of social enterprise and friendly, accessible environment is popular with students from the nearby university (free Wi-Fi available), local business people and those coming and going up and down the London Road. They’ve been so busy they already converted their basement into a cosy extra space.

What’s good is that it doesn’t come across as either worthy or done on the cheap. “People say to us – ‘this is so nice but you’re raising money for charity – how does that work?!’,” deputy manager Katherine told me.

And the name?  An allusion to the “six degrees of separation” meme and hence an allusion to the idea that we all connected.

  • Just to add if you are in New Walk area you should also consider popping  in to the regular Thursday lunch-time pop-up café at Soft Touch, 50 New Walk. I’ve been a trustee of Soft Touch for many years and can bear witness to the tremendous work it does using the arts and creativity with young people. Look here for more info.
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It’s always good to see a serious new independent restaurant open in the centre of Leicester. It’s been a bit of a graveyard of dreams but there’s always the hope that someone will make a new place work, and so a big welcome and good luck  to Phillip Sharpe’s new venture The White Peacock.

He’s no stranger to Leicester having been head chef at Maiyango for what must be around a decade. It’s been good to see his development there in producing ever-more ambitious and high-quality food as the young business grew. Now he’s getting his own venue at the foot of New Walk, the building that was most recently Barrington’s but before that was Flores, a fine-ish dining global tapas place that looked beautiful but I never really warmed to the food.

I’ve not got details of what exactly the offer will be The White Peacock, but it’s set to open by the end of October I believe.  Certainly they will be hoping to capture some of the Christmas action and the festive menu features dishes that seem to reflect the eclectic influences Phil implemented at Maiyango – Japanese green tea and lime cured organic salmon, micro cress, wasabi crème fraiche; organic rump of lamb, slow roast shoulder, root vegetable  dauphinoise, redcurrant and rosemary jus;  mandarin and hazelnut jelly, hazelnut ice-cream.

Phil also comes across as a really genuine sort of chap – committed to using great Leicestershire produce where possible and he and Maiyango have also recently been offering great support to a youth arts project I’m involved with called Soft Touch  which is helping disadvantaged kids to develop healthy eating awareness and spread the word in their communities. It’s great he’s having a go in the city centre – I’ll give more news as and when.

The Pub

April 12, 2010

Eyebrows were raised when Paul from Out of the Vaults on New Walk/King’s Street and Cathal, previously of the neighbouring King’s, formed a new  business and took it across New Walk to what had been archetypal Friday night style  bar Pause.  “You don’t sell real ale in surroundings of leather sofas. recessed halogen lights and blonde wood”, seemed to be the consensus. Paul and Cathal’s view was precisely the opposite – that the sticky floor, rustic look did no-one any favours and just served to alienate people who might be quite keen to explore beer culture.

Anyway, it seems The Pub hasn’t alienated it’s traditional consitituency, there were plenty of paunches, beards and middle-aged pony tails on view when we visited. You can understand why – the beer selection is fantastic and the surroundings are not intimidatingly smart by any means – it’s actually a little endearingly shoddy around the edges. 

It’s a shame the link through to  Welllington Street has been blocked off because the bar is now something of long cave and I found it a little claustrophobic up the far end. They reckon to serve some 33 draught beers at any one time – including a fine array of continental styles as well as a wide variety from local brewers. We had some delightful Oakham Inferno, an IPA from Derbyshire and a remarkably tasty German wheat beer.   Staff were on the glamourous  side (sorry Cathal, I don’t actually mean you) but were skilled and helpful too.

There’s a sensibly short menu and my sausage baguette was as good an example of pub grub as you are likely to come across. A huge, thick  11inch sausage from Grasmere farm in Lincolnshire was juicy and flavoursome and came with sweet mustard and even sweeeter onions. It was just perfect with the beer. Chips seemed to be of the oven variety but were at least crisp and dry.

I hope it is succeeding in bringing in a new clientele to the real ale market, but whatever, The Pub has a good offer and deserves to be checked out. It’s already been made Leicester CAMRA’s Pub of the year for 2010.

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