Oxleas Wood Cafe
Even on a Monday lunchtime, it’s bustling and busy, with a steady flow of customers, many of them clearly regulars, returning for the kind of caff food that is just right for a setting in the middle of a forest. Dog walkers, elderly people, local builders and, I suspect, a fair few hospital workers escaping QEH for a few precious minutes.
It was refurbished last year, and it is really good to see what is essentially a park cafe kept neat and tidy, free from graffiti and urinating youths, still used for what it was built for. I’m particularly taken with the fridge housing the cold drinks and ice creams, covered in Smarties sticky-backed plastic. A Blue Peter triumph.
There’s nothing fancy about this place – but what there is is neat and clean – pine tables and chairs, white paint and sundry film posters. A noticeboard advertising local events (anyone for a six-piece female-fronted band? No indication of style or genre, but guaranteed girls…)
The food matches the place. Good, honest greasy-spoon stuff – the blackboard advertises every variety of fry-up breakfast – available all day, as far as I can tell – plus hearty pies, lasagnes and ploughman’s lunches. Oh – and the odd special.
Don’t expect gourmet cookery. But who wants delicate towers of batons, swirls of coulis or tiny jugs of jus when they’ve just been for a brisk walk in the fresh autumn air? I, for one, want a big pile of hot stodge, a big bowl of soup or a big plate of egg, chips and beans, washed down with a mug of orange tea.
It’s well-priced, bright and fresh – and a joy to visit in between showers just now. In fact it will also be good when the leaves, still just about green and swollen with all the rain we’ve had this summer, turn and fall, the walks become crisper and your breath precedes you in little clouds of steam. The added bonus there, of course, is that the view will be even more breathtaking, glimpsed through bare branches and the odd holly tree.
If you go to Oxleas in the next little while, don’t miss this charming den that’s clearly been built by enterprising local kids.
They have a website (the cafe, of course, not the kids…) but it doesn’t mention the opening hours, so here they are:
They open every day between 8.00am and about 4.30-5.00pm. Bear in mind, though, that although they’re open at 8.00am, they don’t start cooking until about 8.30.