I'm distantbiscuit from Oxford. I've been Qyping since 21-05-2009
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14 Turl Street, Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 3DQ
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You might have to fight for a seat, but that’s the price you have to pay for the best coffee in Oxford. It’s good enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
270 Banbury Road, Summertown, Oxford, Oxfordshire
Reviewed using Android. Get the app
£4.50’s worth of breakfast at Hackett’s was included with my room at Merifield Annex (owned by Wadham College). The croissants were fine (and served with little pots of Tiptree jam, yay), although this morning the barista was serving them with his bare hands rather than with tongs. The coffee was reliably awful: a cappuccino was a vast mug of grey milk, while a latte was more beige but still didn’t really taste of coffee. I got my best results this morning, ordering a “very strong white coffee” which resembled an adequate latte.
In fairness, the staff were very nice when I complained on the first day (about the coffee and the 20 minutes it took to arrive), and they gave me apologetic vouchers. But one acceptable cup of coffee out of five is not a good record, so I shan’t be going back, even for free drinks.
Woking, Surrey GU24 8AQ
Meze is a tricky business. On the one hand, one exceptionally good dish can leave you raving about the restaurant and skimming over its more mediocre offerings; on the other, there are so many dishes that it’s very easy for one or two of them to be a bit disappointing. However, luckily, the chefs at The Green Olive know what they’re doing, and as the dishes begin to arrive (at the perfect pace), each one proves to be a delight to the eye and the palate.
Particularly good are the olives; the taramasalata; the filo pastry cheese parcels; the tabouli; the swordfish souvlaki; the spiced sausage; and the chunky fried potatoes.
There is a lot of food in the £17/head evening meze, so meze for two is usually enough for three. You can also build your own menu (a rather more expensive option) or supplement the set meze with the odd extra dish from the menu.
The staff are friendly and lighthearted, and are very willing to explain dishes and recommend wines and other accompaniments.
Unfortunately, most of the desserts are very sweet, honey-laced Greek confections, and the fruit salad, although generously proportioned, can be a bit on the unripe side. That said, you might not have room for dessert, and the coffee is excellent.
The premises are clean and bright, and I found the bathroom in immaculate condition. All in all, a great night out, especially if you’ve never tried meze before and you want to have a go at something new.
157 King Street, Hammersmith, London W6 9JT
A very nice vegetarian curry house. Even if you’re not a particular fan of vegetarian food, I recommend it, as the food is very nicely prepared, and they specialise in dosa which are not always easy to find elsewhere.
Just a small caveat: they don’t always make explicit on the menu exactly how hot the dishes are likely to be; that’s fine if you like your food hot (I do), but if you’re a bit more sensitive to chilli then you might want to check with the waiting staff (who can be a little stand-offish, unfortunately) before ordering.
4 Mercer Street, Covent Garden, London WC2H 9QA
I’m extremely lazy and won’t be doing any skiing, snowboarding, or hiking any time soon, so you may be wondering what on earth I’d be doing in a branch of Snow+Rock.
Well, I’d be drinking coffee.
I have no idea what this coffee shop (called “Bullet”) is doing on the fourth floor of Covent Garden’s branch of Snow+Rock (apparently it’s their flagship store), but it’s doing it very well. They sell an excellent cup of coffee: rich, smooth, and expertly finished with pretty patterns of leaves and ferns in the foam. They claim it was a Time Out London finalist last year. There are big, squishy sofas and the staff seem pretty friendly. If you want a quiet coffee in the middle of Covent Garden, I really recommend it.
34-35 Great Sutton Street, London EC1V 0DX
I’m only familiar with the Slaughtered Lamb as a music venue, but it is a very good one. The standard lamp lighting, the floor-level stage area, the squishy footstools and sofas… It all conspires to give you the best sort of live music experience money can buy, where you feel like the performers are playing to you personally. I think they feel that way, too. Last time I went, there was a considerable amount of audience participation.
Unfortunately you’ll have to hike up and down the stairs to get a drink, which is a pain if you’ve managed to secure a seat—so be sure to get the pints in before the music starts.
41-42 Kings Mall, Hammersmith, London W6 0YH
Tiger sells a very strange selection of goods. You can buy crockery, small cushions, toys, stationery, socks, gloves, sunglasses, jewellery-making items such as findings and beads (these are particularly good-value), clocks, first-aid kits, candles, paper napkins, greetings cards, spices, chopsticks, torches, tissues, chocolate bars, garden implements, and dried noodles. To name just a small selection.
The nice thing about it is that it’s designed so that you can do a comprehensive circuit around the outside and see everything (I like to go anticlockwise), but be warned that you will almost certainly end up buying something. Particularly recommended is their kitchenware, which, while not of terribly high quality, is dirt-cheap and very useful if you need lots of small (and surprisingly stylish) dishes in a hurry.
Prices range from £1-5. (Occasionally you’ll get more than one item for £1, as with the greetings cards, for example.)
2 North End Road, London W14 0SH
Red Planet Pizza is one of the lesser-known pizza delivery services in the London area, but it is worth trying it out, for several reasons. Firstly, the delivery is so fast that my late partner and I often speculated that they had some kind of mind-reading device, or else were sitting outside his flat in an anonymous white van, waiting to cook our pizza at a moment’s notice. Quite how else they could have managed to cook the pizza and transport it to us in about 15 minutes, we never quite figured out.
Anyway, on top of that, they have a confusing plethora of different deals and offers on their menu, but the ‘Any pizza, any size for £9.95’ deal on Monday-Thursday is excellent value if you get a decent-sized one. They also do lots of pasta and other dishes, but we never tried those as we liked their veggie pizzas so much. You can choose between several alternatives to standard tomato sauce bases, including garlic & herb and barbecue.
Finally, it’s worth ordering from them to see the unintentionally hilarious box design, which features a very sad-looking slice of pizza (with mushroom and pepperoni for eyes and a slice of pepper for a gloomy mouth) flying reluctantly into the mouth of a giant red Pacman.
153 Goldsworth Road, Woking, Surrey GU21 6LS
Surrey Music is the only place to buy sheet music in Woking, and luckily it is top-notch. The proprietor is simply the loveliest chap you could hope for. To give you an example of the kind of service we’re talking about: I bought a new clarinet mouthpiece there several years ago, and he let me take it home without paying for it to try it out with my own clarinet before returning to hand over the cash if I decided I wanted to keep it. Admittedly my father and I were long-standing customers, but nevertheless it’s so refreshing to receive that kind of personal and trusting service.
The shop sells a small selection of sheet music and exercise books for all instruments, including everything you will need to do Associated Board exams, and if there’s something you can’t find—if you’re using a different exam board the selection in-store is a bit more limited—they’re always willing to order in additional items. They also have more recreational sheet music and I’ve found a few nice gifts in there for musician friends looking for something a bit different to play.
They have a range of musical instruments including clarinets, saxophones, guitars, violins, &c. arranged around the shop, and they are very willing to let you have a go with them before you buy. The staff are very knowledgeable and are always willing to offer some friendly advice.
It suffers somewhat from being a very small shop, and being rather out-of-the-way, but it is worth popping by for a browse.
188 King Street, Hammersmith, London W6 0RA
The Wishing Well has to be one of the oddest restaurants I have ever encountered. The first think you’ll notice is that it appears to be permanently Halloween; model witches dangle from the ceiling, and the walls are decked out with garlands of wooden bats, cats, and pumpkins. I don’t know why. Just go with it. The whole restaurant is wooden-panelled with wallpaper above the panelling that has a fake brick pattern on it. There are some strange wooden frieze things as well. And fairy lights around the window. And disco floor lights on the way to the toilets. I suppose that if you’re tall, it probably feels quite cluttered, but I love it.
Everything is extremely cheap, especially if you have one of their vouchers, a handful of which are thrown in when you get your bill. The vouchers entitle you to an amazing deal: three courses for about £7.50 (or cheaper before 7pm). When you realise that the main courses start from around £7, that starts to look almost too good to be true, doesn’t it?
The food itself is simple but good, and the portions are enormous. You are brought a free hunk of bread with butter before you order. The menu is mostly Italian and Mediterranean, but with the occasional curve ball (burgers, enchiladas) thrown in for good measure. Be warned that if something comes in a “creamy” sauce (such as the excellent salmon tagliatelle), it’ll be full of double cream, and hence very rich. There’s usually a range of specials on offer as well. They also do some fine meat dishes such as chicken with tarragon, and pork medallions. The puddings are slightly less engaging, especially if you are doing the voucher deal as then the dessert choices are limited to a few at the top, but to be honest you might not have room anyway.
The staff (it appears to be a family business) are efficient, delightfully friendly, and extremely accommodating, and to top it all off, they eschew the tradition of after-dinner mints and pop a stick or two of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum on the tray when they bring you your bill. Pure class.
- London 35 reviews
- Woking 17 reviews
- Oxford 15 reviews
- Hammersmith, London 10 reviews
- St. James's, London 7 reviews
- West Kensington, London 4 reviews
- Horsell, Woking 3 reviews
- Covent Garden, London 2 reviews
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- Brixton, London 1 review
- St. Pancras, London 1 review
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- Knaphill, Woking 1 review
- Pyrford, Woking 1 review
- Old Woking, Woking 1 review
- Cowley, Oxford 1 review
- Camden, London 1 review
- Kilburn, London 1 review
- Clerkenwell, London 1 review
- Chobham, Woking 1 review
- Summertown, Oxford 1 review