I must apologise. I've been promising to write something about Perk for some time now, and I just haven't got around to it. I'm there all the time and yet I just keep forgetting! So, my apologies to you Perk, and here - finally! - is my review.
Perk is a small, independent coffee house, situated a couple of minutes' walk from Carpenders Park rail station, in Watford, Hertfordshire. It popped up one day: a down-to-earth, upmarket revelation, in an area desperately in need of enrichment. And I can't overstate how much of a difference this place has made to the local community, how much of a benefit - a perk - it is.
The atmosphere, immediately, is welcoming. The staff greet you with smiles and hellos, and it always feels geuine.
The space feels at once both intimate and communal. It has a warm, homely vibe, with pretty lampshades and hand-decorated chairs. A range of seating options - tables and chairs, comfy sofas, bar stools at the window - provide for the varying needs and wants of customers. You can work here. You can have a quiet conversation with a close friend. You can have cake and birthday celebrations. There is free wifi. There is a play area for children. Needs are anticipated and met.
You order and pay at the counter, and then your food and drink is brought to you.
Tea is loose-leaf, and served in a pot with a removable infuser, with a cup and saucer and a pretty teaspoon. You'll sometimes get an extra little treat on the side. There is a growing range of delicious cold shakes and smoothies, and I'm told that the coffee is excellent.
The food here is of excellent quality, and generous in portion size.
Sandwiches are made with freshly baked artisan breads. There is plenty of vegetarian fare, and a couple of vegan options, and gluten-free clients are also catered for. Staff will willingly check ingredients, discuss suitability, and tailor meals to your needs as far as possible.
One of the reasons for Perk's success is that it is constantly evolving. Each time I visit there is something new, some little detail that has been tweaked or upgraded. Afternoon tea, with pretty vintage china, is now available (advance bookings only). There are seasonal menus, drinks, treats. There are blankets for the outdoor seating. There is a big bowl of water and snacks for canine companions. There are little books to read whilst you idle with your coffee. Perk is on a constant voyage of self-improvement, and it shows.
Perk also deliberately makes connections with its local community. It runs storytime events for toddlers, comedy nights, networking mornings; hosts craft afternoons, knitting circles, takes part in charity fundraisers. Local artists and photographers exhibit their work here, and local crafters advertise and sell their wares. There is a community noticeboard on the wall. Perk has worked hard to reach out, to grow roots, and it has paid off for everyone.
Before Perk came along, there was nowhere nearby to sit and have a quiet cup of coffee in relaxed surroundings. Yes there are fast food places, pubs, greasy spoons. But nowhere to pop in to meet a friend, read a book, work on your laptop. Perk has fulfilled a local need, and people have a reason to keep going back.
Perk is a wonderful little coffee house, and I highly recommend it. Tell your friends.
Seating: Indoor & outdoor.
Food: Sandwiches, wraps, jackets, soups, cakes, pastries etc.
Pricing: Approx £3.50 upwards.
Vegetarian Food: Yes.
Vegetarian items marked on menu: No.
Vegan Food: Yes.
Vegan items marked on menu: No.
Gluten-Free items marked on menu: ?
Off-menu orders: Yes.
Child menu: ?
Tea Selection: Good. Range of Suki loose-leaf tea.
Presentation: Good. Teapots, cups & saucers.
Service: Excellent. Friendly and helpful.
Child-friendly: Yes, with play area.
Breastfeeding Friendly: Unknown.
Dogs Welcome: Yes, outside.
Loyalty Card: Yes.
Accessible Toilet: Yes. Grab bar, emergency cord.
Baby Change: Yes.
Venue for Hire: Yes.
Would Recommend: Yes!