We’ve been coming to The Steam Room in Elm Grove, Southsea most weeks since they’ve opened and it’s become a firm favourite of ours. Not only do they brew up some fantastic coffee but there’s always something new to try and we do love a good natter with James!
The first thing you’ll notice when you walk into The Steam Room is the level of detail in the interior design. Beautiful exposed brickwork lines the walls alongside trendy artwork, giving it a real industrial feel, as you’d expect from a steam room. As with many cool coffee hangouts, there’s certainly no shortage of foliage with succulents dotted around which make a cosy, relaxed space to chill. Carlos and I enjoy sitting on the window bench as we love to watch the world go by and wave at people we know.
The coffee beans are from one of my favourite London roasteries, Caravan Coffee, and they make a really decent cup of coffee. We always go for a flat white and an oak milk flat white. Sometimes I mix it up a bit – I told you I like to try new things! – and have a cortado. The cortado here is what I call a ‘proper’ cortado, like the ones you get in Spain and Italy, where there is substantively less milk than a flat white which is perfect if you need a lighter pick-me-up. This is speciality coffee at it’s best. Presentation is king here and that’s what sets The Steam Room apart from all the other coffee shops in Southsea. Each coffee is served in a beautiful handmade ceramic mug on a wooden board with tiny silver and white spoons. Even the tap water is well presented, in glass bottles with cork lids, and glasses which neatly stack together.
Campfire hot chocolate
The Steam Room isn’t just for the coffee lovers, but for those with a sweet tooth too. You may have heard about their campfire hot chocolates, they’ve taken Instagram by storm! These hot chocolates are totally different from those you can find elsewhere. Like the decor, the presentation has been well thought through and there’s a clear element of perfection. Firstly, a huge marshmallow is lightly toasted on a flame and it’s popped under an upsidedown glass filled with smoke for a real campfire feel. Then the hot chocolate is carefully prepared with a blend of quality chocolates, dark and milk, not too sweet and not too bitter. It almost feels like a ritual as you turn over the cup to release the steam, pop the toasted marshmallow into the glass and pour over the smooth hot chocolate. Voilà! Your campfire hot chocolate is served.
You may be wondering about food, yes, The Steam Room will have a food menu but multiple lockdowns have kinda got in the way. For now, The Steam Room continue to drip-feeding us with new delights to maintain our excitement. We are so excited, James has shared with us his plans for his food and we know it’s going to be well received by Southsea. Think, ‘Breakfast Gnocchi’ – pan-fried gnocchi, pancetta lardons, three-cheese sauce with a sous vide Clarence Court hens egg and pea shoots…it looks insane. James is no amateur when it comes to food, having previously established a handful of well-known, and well-loved, food business in both Southsea and London.
So far, we’ve tried the cookies, brownies, babkas, pastel de natas, danish swirls, croissants…and breathe! Every treat was perfectly baked, fresh that morning – many still hot out the oven – as we swing by on a Saturday morning. Mum loves the vegan cookies and there are vegan brownies too, which are always a hit with the Southsea hipsters who mooch around Elm Grove.
The Steam Room has opened in one of the toughest times and they’ve only been able to fully open their doors for a few months this year – boy, do we miss hanging out there. If you haven’t already, you must swing by and try their coffee, even if it’s a takeaway.
Living life, loving The Steam Room
Photos perfectly captured by the Southsea Snapper. Follow him on Insta.