Category: Reviews

The Swan, Sutton Courtenay

The Swan at Sutton Courtenay

After spending Sunday morning getting things organised, my OH & I thought we’d treat ourselves to lunch out. With it being Father’s Day we assumed lots of places would be busy so headed out of Oxford to Sutton Courtenay where there are three gastropubs. We decided on The Swan as it looked nice but didn’t look really crowded.

The Swan at Sutton CourtenayAs it was Sunday they didn’t do light bites or sandwiches, which I can understand but was disappointed with. There were no veggie options for the starter or on the specials board & there was only one veggie option for the main meal – Mac and cheese. I couldn’t be bothered to go anywhere else so had that but word to the wise: It’s 2011! Vegetarians generally require more than pasta and cheese. There were no side salad options so I had no green on my plate either. My OH chose the burger & chips.

Both were nice. The macaroni had goats cheese and sun dried tomatoes in with it. It also had black olives which tasted funny so I left those. I’d give it about 7 out of 10 but I won’t go back until I know that there’s more veggie choice. It’s interesting that on their website The Swan claims to have many vegetarian options. They might on their daily menu but not on their Sunday menu.

It did have a nice feel to it and the service was fine, though I could’ve lived without the waitresses spraying cleaning product onto empty tables as it smelt like toilet cleaner! Gross!


Chocolate Chai

Chocolate Chai in Big Brown

It’s been a busy old week. So imagine my absolute joy when I arrived home yesterday (tired after a late night at the Take That concert in Cardiff! OMG!) & found a packet full of Drink Me Chai chocolate chai on my doorstep I could barely contain my excitement.

Chocolate Drink Me ChaiThis is one of the reasons I love Twitter so much. I received the sample via a conversation with Throwing Buns cafe who’ve recently started selling my favourite spiced chai. Another of my favourite cafes, Combibos Coffee sells the Drink Me chai selection but I don’t get much opportunity to get there these days. So when I saw, via twitter, that Throwing Buns was interested in chocolate chai I got in on the conversation and said that I’d never seen it for sale. I was then offered some samples. A few days later they arrived. For me this is like Christmas! Spiced chai is my absolute favourite and have some almost everyday. We have a Nespresso machine at home that has a milk heater. This means I can make my own chai. Pure heaven. But would the chocolate chai be a suitable match for my beloved spiced?

Chocolate Chai in Big BrownI heated the milk and put the kettle on. I emptied a sachet into my favourite chai mug. (Yes I know that makes me sound a bit mental!) I waited with anticipation & felt a bit guilty that my usual spiced chai wouldn’t be needed today.

I mixed it all together & waited for it to cool.  It was nice. Chocolatey. With a subtle hint of spice. It was good.  Don’t worry – I still prefer the spiced. But I prefer the chocolate to the vanilla chai. However, it does show how versatile chai can be. I know they also do mango & peppermint chai but these aren’t for me. I don’t do mango at all & am fussy about mint flavoured things (It should be reserved for toothpaste & mints. Don’t ask. I have weird food rules!)

Most of all I was impressed with the company. They have a fantastic product. They are personal & friendly and communicate with people via twitter.

Thank you so much Drink Me chai. I can highly recommend the choccy chai and I will do so. A lot!

A Crafty Coffee

Zappis Cafe Americano

Zappis Cafe AmericanoThere’s nothing more I like to do when out & about than to have a quick crafty coffee. It’s even better if I can support an independent cafe. So I was more than willing to visit Zappi’s Cafe in Oxford. It’s above a cycle shop which is great as it meant I could pick up a cushion for my saddle as well as get a caffeine hit!

They have a great range of teas & coffees all at very reasonable prices. They had a lovely selection of cakes, although as I’m watching the calories I didn’t indulge this time. My black americano was lush & my OH had a flat white which he really enjoyed. There was also plenty of tap water available, which pleases me as this isn’t something that all cafes offer. I also used the WC & was very impressed. While quite small it was clean & airy with proper soap, loo roll & hand towel (Take note Starbucks!). I will definitely be visiting again.

Burford Garden Company

Burford Garden Centre

A few weeks ago my OH asked what I wanted to do for my birthday. I didn’t know what I wanted to do for that but I said that I did want to go to Burford Garden Company. After a massive lie in this morning, we headed out in the car to have a look around. I’d heard lots about how lovely it was so I was eager to have a good old mooch about.

Burford Garden CentreI wasn’t disappointed, especially as there was cake! After a look around the huge number of plants that they had, their lovely sheds & summer houses, it was time to cuppa. I had a lovely pot of breakfast tea served in this lovely handmade pottery (They even had soya milk available at no extra change – take that Starbucks!). After much deliberation I went for the Bakewell Tart. It didn’t disappoint. The cafe promoted local & organic ingredients and better yet, there was a separate children’s section. Much appreciated!

Their cafe was a mixture of old & new and it seems that they are really trying to branch out into something like Petersham Nurseries, which is fine with me ‘cos I loved it there! There was a lovely food section, surpassed only by their massive selection of gifts, cards & antiques.

My favourite spot Vintage Till at Burford Garden Centre of the afternoon was this beautiful antique till that had the prices in shillings! I know that I will definitely be going back for a load of lovely plants including some tasty herbs and some wonderful roses. I know that I will be taking my Mum & Sister there when they come & visit – they love a good garden centre too!

I think Christmas will warrant another visit too as I imagine that it will have loads of pretty glittery things that will need to be in my home. Phew! Better start putting some dates in the diary!