Friday, 31 May 2013

Restaurant Review - St Giles' Cafe

Location: 52 Saint Giles', Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 3LU, UK
Food and Restaurant Reviews, Oxford. FoodieOnTour

St Giles' Cafe was first recommended to me by a colleague, back when it was still a greasy spoon; I was pregnant then too, with MiniF1. We'd tried it out and found it to be OK - your standard 'fry up' but lacking in customer service; I recall the waitress at the time being particularly unfriendly and 'bothered'. Having learnt from the wonderful world of Twitter that the cafe had fallen into the hands of new management, who were transforming it into something a little less 'greasy', I was eager to check it out.

On this occasion, we were actually intending to go to the Red Lion for breakfast, but, with it being a bank holiday, they weren't open as early as usual... *ding* went the light bulb in my head, perfect time to see the newly revamped St Giles' Cafe in action.

The exterior style of the small cafe is mirrored once inside, with dark wooden floors, panelling, tables and chairs, all coordinated beautifully with soft blue on the walls, placemats and menus - it's simple but effective. Consideration has gone into the new decor, the cafe now feeling not just renovated, but lovingly so; the previously dark and dated interior thankfully replaced by a light and airy space you feel welcome to enjoy.

Food and Restaurant Reviews, Oxford. FoodieOnTour

Taking our seats next to the counter, we pondered the menu briefly - for we already knew what we were ordering. Popping out for a spot of weekend brunch is a bit of a tradition in the Foodie household, and we ALWAYS order the full cooked breakfast - it's something of an unspoken agreement. MrF would pass out from shock if I ordered a granola, and I too if he ever ordered mushrooms on toast. Along with our meaty dishes we each order a juice - orange for me, orange or apple for MrF. MiniF tucks into a side of toast plus some food from our plates... quite the routine. 

The full cooked breakfast here (The Oxford English) consists of "Dry-cured Bacon, Fried Egg, Home Made Pure Pork Oxford Sausage, Grilled Tomato or Chestnut Mushrooms with Toast", which you can have large (£9) or small (£5). The tea and coffee sounded extraordinary - with a special mix blend 'St Giles' Tea' and 'St Giles Coffee' available. So, 'usual' ordered, we settled in with a newspaper and a natter.

Food and Restaurant Reviews, Oxford. FoodieOnTour

Food and Restaurant Reviews, Oxford. FoodieOnTour

After a little while of relaxation, drinks in hand and classical music drifting through the cafe, our food arrived. I have to stop here briefly to say the tea was stunning; strong and full bodied, without being at all overwhelming... a beautiful cuppa and just how I like it. MrF enjoyed his coffee, but likes his a little stronger. OK - so the food... The mushrooms were delicious, sautéed just long enough to retain plumpness and flavour; the eggs just as fried eggs should be (although I did have to go for hard yolks with mine, while bun is still in oven - I was very attentively asked if I would prefer them to be cooked on both sides). The sausages were a bit of a sticking point between MrF and myself, I found mine to be too dry and savoury, giving me strong déjà vu of a mince-stuffed courgette dish that my Mum used to cook when I was a teenager. MrF disagreed, and when he stole a bit of my sausage from MiniF, he noted that it tasted quite different from his - courser and indeed lacking in a sweetness he had found in his. The inconsistency, for me, isn't a big issue; I seriously applaud them for the fact they are rustic, home made sausages - they just weren't to my taste. The bacon, well, the bacon was the centrepiece for me; truly fabulous - salty, crisp in places, just thick enough and really very flavoursome. 

Food and Restaurant Reviews, Oxford. FoodieOnTour

Food and Restaurant Reviews, Oxford. FoodieOnTour

One other thing to note is the accompanying toast - the bread, plus the cakes they sell, are all home made. This, along with the home made sausages and bespoke blended tea give you an insight into just how much the new owners care. This same care extends to the cooking of the food and to the service - all of the staff were, simply put, lovely.

I would happily make a return visit to the new St Giles' Cafe; I'm keen to try their lunch dishes as well as their home made cakes - any excuse to delve into another pot of that glorious 'St Giles' Tea'!

Overall score: 8/10

St Giles' Cafe
52 St Giles'
Twitter: @stgilescafe
Phone: 01865 554200

St Giles' Cafe on Urbanspoon

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