Archive for the ‘Outside London’ Category
While we love exploring London, we also love our holidays. We’ve just been to the French Alps and to Lyon and want to share our best finds with you. Lyon is a really great city, cultural and culinary, less touristy than Paris, and it has a great travel and bicycle network too.
One of the highlights was Bernachon, the world famous chocolatier that is 60 this year. The place is divided into two: there is a licensed cafe-restaurant on one side and a chocolate shop on the other.
After two very healthy salads, we both went for a chocolate-eclair type cake called a ‘religieuse’ which means ‘nun’.
Then there’s the hot chocolate. At 7 Euros it’s not cheap, but it’s divine and it comes in a jug that serves about two cups. Bernachon is a total must and while it must be a magnet for tourists, we were surrounded by ‘locals’ – the benefit of going in February no doubt. Bernachon is at 42 cours Franklin Roosevelt, 69006, Metro Foch, Tel 00 33 4 78 24 37 98. It’s open until 6.30pm Monday-Saturday and until 7pm on Sundays.
Also wonderful in Lyon is Saisons restaurant at L’Institut Paul Paul Bocuse, the father of modern French cooking.
Saisons is not to be confused with Paul Bocuse’s 3 star Michelin restaurant, L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges or his brasseries in Lyon itself – Le Nord, Le Sud, L’Ouest and L’Est. Saisons is his training school for chefs and restaurant and hotel managers and you’re served by keen to please, endearingly nervous students. It means you can experience great nouvelle cuisine for a fraction of the cost.
We had a three course meal for two with delifgtful amuse-bouches, cheese, coffee and wine for about a hundred Euros, making it extraordinary value.
Our starters were a veal millefeuille and scallops with artichoke; our mains were guinea fowl and halibut with lentils. Pudding was a praline mousse in choux pastry with mango sorbet – and a classic lemon tart with vanilla ice cream. They also brought dainty soup and cheese choux creations, some macarons, nougat and financiers too. We’d really recommend this place to everyone coming to Lyon.
To find Saisons, which is just west of Lyon, take Metro D to Gorge de Loup, then the number 3 bus to Ecully Le Trouillat (the buses indicate which stop is coming next and it’s about a twelve minute journey). L’Institut Paul Bocuse is signposted and the building resembles a chateau.
Saisons (00 33 4 72 18 02 20) is not open at the weekend or on Wednesday evenings – book as far ahead as possible.
As for Lyon’s bouchons (local restaurants serving traditional regional dishes, many of them offal-based), we tried three: Le Garet (no website), wonderfully stuck in time and with hearty portions (7 Rue du Garet 69001 Lyon, France 00 33 4 78 28 16 94, Hotel de Ville Metro); Cafe Des Federations,authentic and where one highlight was a poached egg floating around in a thick gravy with lardons (8 rue du Major Martin, 69001,00 33 4 78 28 26 00, Hotel de Ville Metro).
Our favourite though was Daniel and Denise which as two branches and we went to both. One is quite traditional (156 rue Crequil, 69003, 00 33 4 78 60 66 53, Metro Place Guichard, Monday-Friday only). The other is more modern and is at 32 rue Tramassac, 00 33 4 78 42 24 62, Metro Vieux Lyon, open 7 days. While we paled at diners around us tucking into what can only be described as ‘necklaces of kidneys’ and somewhat tamer-looking ‘quenelles’ – oval, soufflesque ‘patties’ made with chicken or fish – we quietly opted for roast lamb for two which was sumptuous.
For accommodation we stayed at L’Ermitage Hotel in Mont Cindre, for one night. It’s north of Lyon quite high up, giving fantastic views of the city.L’Ermitage has a quirky design which is both retro and modern. An old leather-topped gym horse is the reception desk. The rooms are minimalist – bare white with flashes of plain concrete. There isn’t a frilled lampshade in sight and funky colourful fridges grace the corridors – we think L’Ermitage almost feels ‘Soho’.
We were very late arriving (TGV delays) and when we finally stumbled in exhausted we were given a really nice welcome. Dinner time long past, the kitchen knew about our plight and had saved us a beautiful meal.
Starters of gourmet pate and salad, followed by comforting lamb tangines and for pudding, a trio of chocolate desserts. The wine list’s impressive and by the looks of people leaving into the cold night, the locals come here to eat here too.
Breakfast at L’Ermitage is fantastic too – crepes, croissants, yoghurts, jams, ham, egg and cheeses.
After our night at L’Ermitage, we stayed in a brilliant B&B in Lyon called ‘Chambre d’Hugo‘ (21 rue Victor Hugo, Metro Bellecourt) which we would return to in an instant. It’s extremely central yet tranquil and it’s an immaculate, comfy room in a grand old Napoleonic apartment, run by a lovely couple. We definitely recommend it.
And oh, if you’re missing your flat whites, go to Cafe Mokxa (La Boîte à Café) in the arty part of the city, just north of centre at 3 rue de l’Abbe Rozier, 69001, 00 33 4 27 01 48 71, Metro Croix Paquet. It’s open till 7pm Monday to Saturday and 2pm-7pm on Sundays.
Moving away from Lyon now, and onto the snowy Alps. We stayed in a village called Manigod, in a stunning wooden chalet run by Josette Barbaud. Manigod is about twenty kilometres from Annecy and you can go skiing nearby too.
Josette prepares breakfast and she can also do you a gorgeous evening meal too using local produce such as Reblochon cheese and local blueberries. All you have to do then is amble up to bed or relax by the open fire. Other guests may be staying with Josette too, but this is part of the experience.
We also had a brilliant tour of artisan cheese affineur, Paccard, just next door to Josette’s. Eric the affineur (below) took us around the cheese cellars where we learned about the science and art of aging and purveying fine cheese.
Reblochon is one of the main cheeses that is matured here and all their cheeses are unpasteurized, making them really natural and high in healthy bacteria. Each cheese is examined (tapped, ‘listened to’, smelt) everyday and attended to – it’s a very tactile and sensory skill. They also sell cheese online, via ‘Les Fromages du Fermier’.
- Book bouchons and restaurants well before you go
- If hiring a car in winter, request winter tyres – Geneva hire car companies appear more used to doing this
- Much of Lyon is closed on a Sunday, so plan to arrive or deport on this day, or really check your opening times before you travel
This article has been written by London Thru Cafes. The London Thru Cafes App is featured in the Sunday Times 500 Best Apps in the World list and features 120+ independent cafes and 380+ things to do. We issue regular updates, and for newcomers to London, there’s a handy survival guide and area guide and access details.
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Having Polish roots ourselves (one of us has Polish parents), our ears pricked up when we heard Łódź Coffee Festival in Poland is about to take place (see their website – it’s in English as well as Polish).
Poland’s third largest city, Łódź (pronounced ‘Wooj’), is about 75 miles south west of Warsaw and to date, it’s perhaps best known for its reputable film school.
We’ve been lucky enough to grab Speciality Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE) Member Marek Robacha and ask him some questions about the coffee festival, now in its second year. Marek has also been a certified judge at the World Barista Championships in Berne in 2006 and in Tokyo in 2007.
Firstly Marek, tell us about the Festival.
“The main idea behind the Łódź Coffee Festival is to encourage people to drink more coffee. We also want to promote excellent coffee culture, showcase different coffee beans and introduce the latest trends in coffee machines and grinding. “
Who will be there?
“Twenty-one coffee bars around the city are taking part and visitors will vote for their favourite one by text. There’ll also be professional judges to pick the best espresso and cappuccino and at the conference centre, there’ll be exhibitors and a training area where coffee-lovers can try different coffees and learn about latte art, cupping and different brew-methods.”
How is coffee changing in Poland? Are there many independent cafes?
“Warsaw is furthest ahead and also has the most coffee shop chains. Other big cities are following. Generally, coffee quality is still very weak. Lattes are the most popular coffee drink, but most people regard any kind of coffee with milk as a latte – it’s the magic term for coffee with milk and not much distinction is made between cappuccinos, lattes or macchiatos. There are a lot of independent cafes and slowly, more and more roasters are appearing. I would say that each city has at least a few. In Łódź, there are more than ten small roasters.”
Where in Europe do you like to go for coffee?
“There are many good places. Italy has been number 1 for me in the past, especially Trieste. Nowadays I like Norway and especially Oslo – then there’s the UK and I like also Bewley’s in Dublin.”
What do you think of the London coffee scene?
“I know London quite well. Most of all, I like the small independent coffee bars (not chains) and meeting people and baristas who are passionate about coffee. For me, London became the European coffee capital when James Hoffman won the World Barista Championship in Tokyo in 2007, and Gwilym Davies won in Atlanta in 2009. The fact that the World Barista Championship was hosted in London in 2010 only proves that London plays a major role in the coffee business in Europe.”
Are drinks like Aeropress becoming more popular in Poland, and flat whites? Or are they still to come – like in most of the UK?
“Very slowly. Alternative methods of brewing coffee are becoming more popular, but we are on very first rung of the ladder. More baristas use Aeropress, Chemex etc to showcase different coffee beans. It will be guided by baristas under SCAE supervising.”
Are there are any cafes you can recommend to people coming to the cities of Warsaw, Krakow, Gdansk and Łódź?
“Each city has a few really good coffee bars. Unfortunately there is quite big staff rotation so the quality of a coffee bar can vary as baristas come and go. I like in Warsaw’s Green Coffee – this a small chain with ten outlets and they have a consistently high standard throughout. There is also Vespa Café, Filtry Café and Ministerstwo Kawy. In Kraków I would recommend Camera Café. I also had a very good espresso in Chocoffe and also Slodki Wentzl, Boogie Café and many other places. In Łódź I would recommend ms Café in the Museum of Modern Art – they served the best espresso last year during the Coffee Festival and the best place for cappuccino is Affogato. There is also the very interesting and popular coffee bar Owoce i Warzywa (Fruit ‘n’ Veg).”
Which coffee beans do you like the best?
“My absolute number 1 is Geisha from Panama from Hacienda Esmeralda. Second is Yergacheff, then Kona from Hawaii. I also like Brazilian coffees with dark chocolate notes.”
Are there many big coffee chains in Poland?
“Starbucks only arrived in Poland two years ago. Today, there are about ten stores, but they are growing by 5-10 branches per year. We have Costa and as far as I’m aware, Café Nero (my favorite coffee chain in the UK) is going to be introduced very soon. The most popular chain is Coffee Heaven with more than 65 stores. It’s very popular, but Coffee Heaven is going to be rebranded as Costa.”
Who does Poland have competing in the World Barista Championships Final in Vienna in June?
“Katarzyna Zyzało. She is really good. I have judged her a few times and seen huge progress. Until now, Poland has only made tenth place, in Tokyo with barista Lukasz Jura. My hope for Katarzyna is that she will make it into the top 15 in Vienna. Katarzya will be making a short presentation during the Festival and it will be her last public presentation before the competition.”
Łódź Coffee Festival is taking place in the MTL Conference and Exhibition Centre in Łódź from 1st to the 3rd of June 2012 and in cafes around the city centre.
Written by London thru Cafes: the Coffee App and City Guide for London. 100+ fabulous independent cafes and 350+ great things to do nearby.
We’ve just visited Vienna where of course we sampled lots of cafes and were fascinated by the differences between Viennese cafes and those in London.
While we didn’t see a flat white, muffin, brownie or slice of lemon drizzle once during our five days in the city, we had a fantastic time and coffee and cake galore!
We noticed that while cafes in London continue to spring up all over the place, including outer London more and more, Vienna celebrates its established major players. Café Central (above), Café Landtmann and Demel (with branches in Salzburg and New York) have built up their names and reputations over decades, becoming national institutions and proud landmarks.
When we go to a cafe in London, it’s usual to order your coffee and cake at the counter. In Vienna, you’re met at the door of the cafe by a waiter or waitress and led to a table. Places also have full menus, are licensed and some, like Café Central, even have a pianist playing softly in the background.
The result to the café enthusiast is interesting. In Vienna, the boundary between cafe and restaurant is more blurred and the pace more leisurely – many have hat-stand after hat-stand as they expect you to stay. More than once, we found ourselves trying not to polish off our coffee and cake at ‘London speed,’ and noticed that someone who’d arrived before us hadn’t even started their cake by the time we’d finished ours.
The coffee and cake in Vienna is also very different from coffee and cake in London. Cakes in Vienna are a rich and elaborate creation involving different colours, sugars, flavours, creams, jellies and textures – Cafe Diglas even has a video-loop playing of their pastry chefs baking and shows you the artistry and skill behind what’s on your plate.
As for the coffee – we think the Viennese obsess more about their cakes whereas London new wave cafes obsess more about their coffee. There isn’t a flat white to be seen anywhere and while a cafe might have pages of different types of coffee – with alcohol or without, with whipped cream or without and in all different strengths and sizes – the coffee is a given. It’s not emphasized like it is in London, where it can be a café’s core product, but who knows what will happen once the World Barista Championships take place in Vienna between 12-15 June this year!
Some types of coffee include: the Schwarzer (espresso), the Brauner (espresso with a little hot milk), the Verkherter (like a latte), the Melange (espresso with milk and foam, like an Italian Cappucino), the Verlangerter (like an Americano), the Fiaker (coffee with rum and whipped cream) and the Austrian Cappucino, a stronger coffee made with whipped cream.
Prices are higher but this is no surprise given the fact most cafes are palatial and you can stay for hours even if you don’t have a three-course meal. Coffees are between 3-5 Euros each, as are cakes, and you only have to think of trying to recreate one of them to conclude they’re really worth it.
Whether it’s price or culture, there’s doesn’t seem to be much of a takeaway coffee culture in Vienna either. We didn’t see one person walking around with a cup in a sleeve. That said, there are eleven Starbucks in the capital, the first of which arrived in 2001. We couldn’t resist but have a look at the branch at 49 Kartner Strasse – it serves classic Starbuck’s-styled drinks with an occasional nod to Austrian tastes.
And there’s also a double-edged difference – the vast majority of Vienna’s cafes let you smoke; Austrian laws still allow smoking although there are non-smoking areas and some are smoke free.
Mentioned above, all time classic Demel (left) at 14 Kohlmarkt (Tel 00 43 1-5351 7170, U-Bahn Herrengasse, line 3) has stunning window displays and beautifully crafted cakes and chocolates. We had a fantastic ginger hot chocolate here and a dessert called Mohr Im Hemd. This is a light chocolate pudding, verging on a souffle, served with warm chocolate sauce and cream. It’s the sauce that makes it and we liked it so much, we’ve already made it at home thanks to a recipe from Vienna.Info, having bought our little bundt tins in Vienna from a cook shop on Wollzeile Strasse. Demel also sells confectionary, chocolate and cakes in a shop section and if you walk through to the back, you’ll see the pastry chefs creating their works of art.
Also brilliant is Oberlaa at 14 Karntner Gasse (Tel 00 43 1-512 4963, U-Bahn Stephansplatz, lines 1 & 3). We enjoyed a full lunch here but it’s particularly famous for its Lakronen, colourful and perfectly chewy macaroons, which you can have with coffee or a glass of champagne. There are more other branches around the city.
For somewhere more bohemian and laid back, go to Cafe Hawelka at 6 Dorotheerstrasse (Tel 00 43 1-512 8230), also very central. Hawelka serves coffees, a small selection of cakes, alcoholic drinks and the occasional savoury bite.
Just across the way from Cafe Hawelka is Trzesniewski open sandwich bar with its lovely dark breads and hearty spreads of chopped egg, herring or salmon, definitely more of a takeaway. Like Oberlaa, Trzesniewski has other branches around the city too.
Elegant and unmissable Cafe Central (right) is at the north end of Herrengasse (Tel 00 43 1-533 3763 ext 24 or 61, U-Bahn Herrengasse, line U3). This 130-year old establishment frequented by Trotski and Freud is where once again we indulged in coffee, cake and some fabulous Austrian white wine. It was one of the highlights of our stay and a jewel in Vienna’s cafe landscape.
For a pork Schnitzel that isn’t greasy but is so big that it hangs over your plate, go to Figlmuller at 5 Wollzeile (Tel 00 43 1-512 6177, U-Bahn Stephansplatz, line U1 or U3). Figlmuller is loved by tourists and visitors alike and our service there was excellent. We had one Schnitzel between the two of us with knock-out potatoes in a salad dressing that’s so good it has people online looking for the recipe (we haven’t found it yet, it must be secret). We also shared one of their Emmental Schnitzels too – lovely deep fried cheese coated in breadcrumbs. There’s another branch of Figlmuller at 6 Bäckerstr, just around the corner.
Cafe Landtmann is a slick and glamourous non-smoking establishment at 4 Dr Karl Lueger-Ring (Tel 00 43 1-2410 0100, U-Bahn Schottentor, line U2, or U-Bahn Herrengasse, line U3). Come here to feel pampered and luxurious. Landtmann has an attractive terrace area and a huge grand interior – and we mean huge. We had a selection of petit-fours here but there were plenty of Austrians polishing off big Schnitzel too.
Then there’s Zu den 3 Hacken at 28 Singerstrasse (Tel 00 43 1- 512 5895, U-Bahn Stephansplatz, lines 1 & 3). The name means ‘At the Three Axes. Offal is much more present on this menu but don’t let that put you it off. If you’re not sure what you’re ordering, just ask, one of the waitresses helped us out, thankfully pointing out we were confusing’Huhn’ which means ‘chicken’ with ‘Hirn’ which means brain! This is a special restaurant and reminded us a little of St John Restaurant in Clerkenwell, London.
Our all time favourite was Cafe Diglas at 10 Wollzeile Strasse (Tel 00 43 1 5125 7650, U-BahnStubentor, line 3, or U-Bahn Stephansplatz, lines 1 & 3). We went to Diglas three times during our five day visit. Highlights were their sensational creamy saffron and chicken risotto followed by a doughy apple cake topped with meringue and warm vanilla custard. Another time we had gnocchi with beautiful pork medallions each one topped with a prune wrapped in pancetta (we’ll be trying to recreate this). The toilets in Diglas are the zaniest we’ve even seen anywhere too; they’re see-through until locked and then a ‘no entry’ sign shines on the cubicle door.
Very near Diglas at 38 Wollzeile Strasse is Plachutta, famous for its Tafelspitz, traditional boiled beef (Reservations on 00 43 1-512 1577, dress code, smart).
While in Cafe Diglas, we got chatting to an English couple who visit Vienna several times a year and they recommended Cafe Sperl at 11 Gumpendorferstraße (U-Bahn Museumsquartier, line U2). Vast, old, grand and mellow, we had cheesecake and coffee here – and the tap in the ladies’ washroom (right) is like no other.
Our best restaurant highlight was Stomach (no website) at 26 Seegasse (Tel 00 43 1-310 2099, U-Bahn Rossauer Lande, line U4). Stomach feels wonderfully secret and local and is a true hidden gem. They serve food that’s traditionally Austrian at the core (meat, potatoes, salads and fish – although they can adapt dishes for vegetarians) and the place has a fresh, modern feel with fantastic presentation and impeccable service.
Finally, we have to mention London’s own Austrian cafe gem. We love authentic and charming Kipferl (below) which can be found at 20 Camden Passage, in Angel, north London (Tel 00 44 20 7704 1555). Like its Austrian sisters, Kipferl has a full menu and creates traditional dishes such as Strudel, Sachetorte and Schnitzel plus Austrian-styled coffee. As you look through the menu, you come across a coffee-colour chart so you can pick the coffee you want ‘by colour’ just like they did in nineteenth century Vienna. Kipferl has a fresh, modern stream-lined decor and is also featured in our App.
We also liked
While in Vienna, we went to Römertherme Spa in Baden, just outside Vienna. We really recommend this spa and sauna complex with sulphuric waters.
For art, you must to go to the fantastic Belvedere. From July 12, 2012, there’ll also be a Gustav Klimt exhibition to celebrate the fact Klimt would have been 150 this year. And then there’s Mumok, the Museum of Modern Art - worth visiting for the amazing building alone.
And finally, there’s stunning Schoenbrunn Palace although we prefer this from late spring to Autumn when you are more likely to be shown around by one of their inspirational guides.
Getting there and getting around
We travelled to Vienna by train. We took Eurostar from London to Brussels, then on the superfast ICE train to Cologne where a huge annual carnival was in full swing. In Cologne we had a four-hour dinner stop before taking the overnight sleeper to Vienna, where we were arrived thirteen hours later at 9am, showered and breakfasted. If you fancy a treat and bit more room, the first class upgrade on the ICE train to Cologne is good value in our opinion. The sleeper is certainly compact but it was fun. The journey, 4 star hotel K&K Hotel Maria Theresia and return flights were booked through RailBookers whom we would happily recommend.
Once in Vienna, we bought a week’s tram/bus/underground pass for 14 Euros. The pass runs from Monday to Monday and is really worth it. If you arrive on a Tuesday you can still buy it, but you obviously lose a day.
On the way back we took the perfectly comfortable and hassle free airport transfer bus from Morzinplatz at the western end of Schwedenplatz, and then flew back to London.
It was a great trip.
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Written by London thru Cafes: the Coffee App and City Guide for London. 100+ fabulous independent cafes and 350+ great things to do nearby.
At last, a cafe doing expertly made artisan coffee in central Sheffield. Tamper is a great new independent cafe in Westfield Terrace off West Street, right in the heart of city centre. It’s run by New Zealander Jonathan Perry, who is really passionate about coffee from bean to cup.
Tamper is friendly, cosy, unpretentious, but most importantly, you can tell every cup of coffee counts and consistency is key. Compared to London, the ‘new coffee wave’ is still quite new up north – we’ve been to Laynes Espresso near Leeds train station, North Tea Power in Manchester (both brilliant) and we’ve heard great things about Coffee Fix in Stockport.
Jonathan would love to see the independent cafe scene in Sheffield explode and see Sheffield become a desirable coffee destination. ’The more independent coffee establishments on the scene the better. Throughout England – especially London – independent cafes are really setting the standard bringing passion, consistency, atmosphere and amazing coffee.’
Tamper also does granola and croissants, savoury pies, ciabattas and freshly baked cakes as well. Don’t settle for that brown stuff in a pot. Great quality coffee that hasn’t been left sitting in a grinder for days made with expertise and without scorched milk is like sliced bread versus an artisan loaf, real soup versus packet. Apart from Bragazzi’s on Abbeydale Road, we think Tamper fills a much-needed city centre coffee gap – and really deserves to thrive.
Coffee: Grumpy Mule by Bolling’s Roasters in West Yorkshire.
Laynes Espresso have been Tweeting that they’re nearly out of their Square Mile Ethiopian Harar blend but we were lucky enough to sample it when we went to Leeds for the day on Saturday. Let us paint you the picture – us two plus our excited pup Pluto who is not at all used to manic city areas. Passers-by were stopping to pat him every two minutes, while we looked out for a little notch in the wall perhaps, with possibly a barista or two making coffee. Nothing. Relief in a way as stations are not the nicest of places to hang out at the best of times. So where was it?
Thankfully, Laynes is much more than the tiny station booth that we were somehow expecting – it’s actually a great little cafe and just three minutes away from the station. Turn right out of the main entrance and walk down New Station Street until you see the orangey shop front. Small cubby hole in the wall this is not! This is an understated, unpretentious cafe, quite roomy and peaceful, and which makes beautiful coffee. A real find for the locals and commuters alike.
Owner Dave Olejnik says Laynes has only been open for five months but from the stream of people coming in, we could see it’s getting quite a following. We loved our velvety flat whites and there was a nice looking range of fresh sandwiches and cakes too (which, we should add, were all very reasonably priced).
And of course, we were delighted as we were able to bring Pluto in – a real unexpected bonus.
We went to Manchester the other day. To ‘have a day off’. We used Twitter to find out which coffee shops in Manchester did good coffee and Laynes Espresso, a cafe based in Leeds Railway Station, sent us a tweet about North Tea Power in central Manchester’s Northern Quarter.
We set off bright and early and made our way to NTP. There are quite a few cafes along Tib Street, but we were wanting a fabulous flat white pretty badly by now (it was nearly half past eleven and we hadn’t had our morning coffee fix!)
It did not disappoint. We were greeted by a friendly team of baristas called Alistair, Rhi and Sophie who made us the most fantastic flat white and a beautifully intense espresso. They’re using London company Square Mile’s coffee, but are also having their own roast developed by Has Bean Coffee in Stafford.
While we weren’t here on business we can honestly say that North Tea Power would go straight into our App if it wasn’t an App all about London! It’s a perfect coffee gem. Clutter free yet cosy, great wifi, plus lots of different teas – some of which can be done in the espresso machine, and it’s licensed too.
North Tea Power is at 36 Tib Street, Manchester M4 1LA, 0161 833 3073
It’s open Weekdays 8am-7pm; Sat 10am-7pm; Sun 11am-6pm