Monday, 21 November 2011

Zappi's Bike Café, St Michael's Street

I've watched the Tour de France every July for the last twenty years, enjoying the blood and sweat, the shots of the French countryside, and the bone-dry humour of Gary Imlach, but it hasn't as yet inspired me to go very far on a bike. When I was younger I learnt to ride one in a straight line but I never mastered important things like hand signals. It's probably fair to say that I don't belong in a cycle shop.

 (This was the Tour de Picardie - I would have been very lucky to get this close to the finish of a Tour de France stage)

 Luckily, even though Zappi's is part of a bike shop stuffed with very expensive-looking machines, and the walls are covered with cycling photos and memorabilia (I especially liked the framed '7km to go' sign from the Giro d'Italia), the staff don't seem to discriminate between cyclists and non-cyclists. Moreover, they were very patient when I eschewed all the different hot drinks on offer in favour of 'just a normal coffee'. I ended up with an Americano with milk (£1.60) which was fine, but Zappi's also stocks interesting-looking teas from Jeeves and Jericho which I will try if I go back.

Food. You can have yoghurt or a breakfast bap in the morning, and at lunchtime they specialise in not very expensive toasties as well as quiches and soups (the special when I went was the intriguing 'Highland Vegetable'). I ordered a Chicken Medi toastie (chicken, cheese, pesto and salad; £2.90) while The Photographer had a Zappi's Club (chicken, bacon, tomato and cheese, as far as I could see; £3.20). For that price, I was expecting a square package of white toast with cheap cheese and scalding tomato spilling out of the sides. What we each got was a plate bearing two large sandwiches of nicely toasted wholemeal bread, with a tasty filling in which all the different elements complemented each other.

Zappi's offer a selection of what look like home-made cakes and I chose a chocolate brownie (£1.20). Now, this brownie was not a mere square chocolate sponge. It was a rich hunk of chocolate fudge, adulterated with enough flour to create a flaky, very slightly crunchy topping. Having managed to finish it, I'm probably due some exercise. Maybe a bike ride?

(Thanks to The Photographer)

Zappi's Bike Cafe, 28-32 St Michael's Street, OX1 2EB


Zappi's Bike Cafe on Urbanspoon

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