Blend opens third cafe in Nottingham’s ‘hard part’


The coffee and grilled cheese toast that put a Nottingham cafe on the map can now be enjoyed at a new site in the city.

Blend, which opened in Sneinton Market in 2017, took over the cafe from the Nottingham Contemporary and has just started operations after a revamp.

The gallery attracts artists from around the world and has welcomed two million visitors since its launch in 2009.

Staff hope visitors to the exhibition will take a break at Blend, but the cafe is open to everyone.

Depending on your route, you may have struggled to climb the steps of Garner Hill at the back of the Contemporary.

The alternative is to go down two flights of stairs from the Weekday Cross gallery shop. An easier and less strenuous option is to take the elevator to the lower floor.

Whichever way you make your entrance, a warm welcome awaits caffeine lovers, art lovers, and families with children participating in midterm activities.

R Emma Rees and Rhea Clements enjoy coffee at The Blend at Nottingham Contemporary” content=””/>
L>R Emma Rees and Rhea Clements enjoy coffee at The Blend at Nottingham Contemporary

Blend has marked its identity in the space on the ground floor, giving the minimalist and concrete environment a touch of color and the aroma of coffee from its own roasting.

The menu features some of the most popular aspects of Sneinton’s market offering and more.

The focus is on brunch, with options like the bacon sandwich “ultimate”sourdough poached eggs and homemade beans on toast.

The toasts that Blend is well known for appear; all favorites from Brieyonce to Kevin Baconator and new ones like the Book of Boba Fetta, created with chicken and feta cheese.

L>R Andy Batson, of Nottingham Contemporary, and Nathan Barton, of Blend” content=””/>
</div><figcaption class= L>R Andy Batson, of Nottingham Contemporary, and Nathan Barton, of Blend

Sandwiches, salads and the new addition of poke bowls are on offer, along with sausage rolls, cakes and croissants.

Blend – which also operates Blend East West under the City Gate offices in Tollhouse Hill – uses coffee for all three of Stewart’s of Trent Bridge locations.

The roastery has retained its name despite moving from The Meadows to Sneinton Market a few years ago.

Nathan Barton, who runs Blend and is co-head of roasting, said the intention was never to open one cafe, let alone three.

“Initially, we had the idea of ​​having this roastery and setting up a small coffee bar there to sell a few cups of coffee and complements.

“The Creative Quarter (at the market) was looking for a coffee shop operator, so we opened Blend with the roastery next door.

Blend has taken over the cafe from Nottingham Contemporary
Blend has taken over the cafe from Nottingham Contemporary

“The expansion came a bit by chance. That of East-West was an opportunity which presented itself unexpectedly and was easy to seize.

“There is no grand plan to take over the UK with melds around every corner. Part of me thinks roasting is still our core business.”

The art gallery cafe was previously run in-house.

When the takeover opportunity presented itself, it was a no-brainer, Mr Barton said.

“It was easy to assume – it’s a good choice. We talked about it a long time ago. We flirted around this idea of ​​having conversations with the Contemporary for several years, and then this opportunity came up quite recently.

Toast Brieyonce from Blend
Toast Brieyonce from Blend

“We felt the clientele here, the look of the space here, it works well for us. It was a good opportunity for us to come in – the minimalism, the concrete features inside, the fact that it’s an attraction for Nottingham in the first place, from our point of view, putting a business in the inside half of the attendance is already there.

“There is a larger kitchen here. When we first opened in Sneinton it was a very simple offering, we had a very small space and rolled in with the grilled cheese option.

“We still have the grilled cheese as before, but the new chef has plenty of ideas for brunch, vegetarian and vegan.

“There’s a bigger kids’ menu here to cater to that audience, so basically we have more room for growth.”

Previously the 60-seat cafe did not operate on Mondays when Nottingham Contemporary is closed, but the new business will be open seven days a week, with an earlier start from 8.30am on weekdays and 9.30am at weekends.

Blend has taken over the cafe from Nottingham Contemporary

Contemporary spokesman Andy Batson said the menu had been limited after returning from lockdown, with purchased sandwiches.

It is hoped that the new venture will help attract more visitors to the area.

“It’s not just Covid that’s a challenge for us, it’s Broadmarsh and footfall in that area has gone down, which is why having Blend here with such an established brand in the city and they’re looked upon so fondly, l The hope is that they will attract people to the building who might come and have a cup of coffee and think I have half an hour more and go upstairs and check out the exhibits as well.

“We are absolutely delighted that Blend wanted to come. It has become a wonderful and colorful space.

“I think while we were executing it, the offer was okay – now we’re super excited that Blend is here and we can get some of that destination back.”

Client Gary Woodhouse finds Blend at Nottingham Contemporary a nice place to work on his novel
Client Gary Woodhouse finds Blend at Nottingham Contemporary a nice place to work on his novel

Plans for the future include live music in the evenings and taking advantage of the outdoor terrace, which is real sunbathing in the summer.

Emma Rees, who was having coffee with her friend Rhea Clements, said: “It’s such a cool space and the coffee is really good and the toasties are amazing.”

Gary Woodhouse, a former project manager at Nottinghamshire County Council, was also enjoying coffee while working on his laptop on his first novel.

“Writing is a very lonely job, so it’s nice to go places to be around people”did he declare.

“Since Covid subsided I have tried to find places where I am happy to sit and write and this is one of them.

“I like the space, it’s friendly, it’s warm and it’s perfect.”

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