A one hour drive away from the normalcy and quietness of Stanmore, I headed to the heart of Oxford. The ‘City of Dreaming Spires’. Past the iconic Radcliffe Camera and a winding narrow street I walked into the bustle of people, buses, and the sheer beauty of the architecture all around me.
Walking down the street, a little cafe in pale blue caught my eye. The Grand Cafe. The cafe was set up on the site of the first coffee house in England which was established in the year 1650.
A little history
Samuel Pepys, a famous 17th- century diarist and politician said that the first English coffee house was established in 1650 on the same site where today the Grand Cafe stands. It was said to be a meeting spot for the literary and intellectual greats from the surrounding universities.
I was greeted by a waitress wearing her mask. A constant reminder of the new normal that the world has been forced to accept. I walked past the bar counter designed with squares of brown and beige mosaic and a parallel wall of mirrors. The ceiling was adorned with simple chandeliers which gave the cafe a yesteryear charm.
The Grand Cafe provides a selection of afternoon tea to choose from in varying price ranges. The tea cake caught my eye. For £8.95 I enjoyed a decadent spread of tea cake with butter and jam to accompany my Lapsang Souchong.
A Chinese tea with a unique smokey flavor profile. The tea leaves go through a process called smoke drying. The tea brewed simply had an overpowering flavor. A splash of milk allowed the nuances of the tealeaves to evolve and even out. I enjoyed the balance of the bitter and smokey notes of the Lapsang Souchong with the sweetness of the tea cake.
Walk into the Grand Cafe to experience a part of history while sipping on warm cups of tea and biting into scones and clotted cream that melt in the mouth.
Note: The inclusion of gluten free or lactose free options on the menu would most definitely be a welcome change.
Disclaimer: This is not a paid review.