When I first rode by 56 Haymarket, SW1, I did a double-take. Across four busy lanes of traffic I glimpsed a frosted Tim Hortons logo. I couldn’t resist stopping. There are more than 50 Tim Hortons in London, Ontario, but I wasn’t expecting any in London, England? I had to get a taste.
Doughnuts and coffee have a peculiar magnetism on the Canuck. Almost any journey made by a Canadian – be it a quick pick-up from hockey practice, a family road trip to Head-Smashed-in-Buffalo-Jump, or – evidently – a cycle through central London to the Royal Academy of Arts, can be waylaid by Tim’s coffee and doughnuts.
The coffee is earthy and spicy with notes of nostalgia. And the panoply of baked goods is a feast of fruit and sugary deliciousness, perfectly formed to feed a nation. How else to explain that Tim Hortons is, by some accounts, a bigger fast-food retailer in Canada than McDonalds, and a bigger coffee chain than Starbucks?
And it’s now available right in the centre of the swirling metropolis of London, England – just a two minute walk from Leicester Square and half that to Piccadilly Circus. For any Canadian feeling far from home, the comfort of comfort food can be sweet in both the “double sugar” and metaphorical senses.
However, the Haymarket Tim Hortons isn’t a full-blown outlet. No such luck. It is just a small wall display in the Spar supermarket. The doughnut selection isn’t huge (What? No crullers?) and the coffee comes from a self-serve machine on the counter.
But there’s no mistaking it – this is a Tim Hortons coffee and doughnut. And that’s enough for me.
Check out Ryan’s brilliant blog www.roadstorome.blogspot.com for more musings on life in London.
And let us know where else in London you can get an authentic Canadian in the comments below…