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The beautiful and the damned

April 29, 2013

***Warning: this post contains an image at the end that you may find upsetting***

In the past week we’ve been full on preparing the new St Giles’ Café for its reincarnation. I have always been very aware of the history of this place, not least because it has been a café since 1937, but that so many people have already stopped by to tell me about their experiences and memories of the place and to enquire about the reopening.

One gentleman, most likely an academic, asked me about my plans.  “Will you still be serving breakfast?”  “Yes, of course” I replied “but of a different nature and quality than that was served previously”.  His riposte was to the point, “I doubt that”, as he turned on his heels and walked off down St Giles’.  I think it’s fair to say that the previous reputation of the café was rather mixed. For some it represented the last of the “greasy spoons” and interestingly for many of those people that comes with a real sense of belief that it shouldn’t change.

I wish to retain some of the originality of the café as a place where anyone can come and have the heartiest of breakfasts.  But I also wish to offer food that is intrinsically “earthy” and where taste and flavour abound.

fresh garlic

In this last week I’ve sourced some extraordinary-tasting chestnut mushrooms.  I have also found some beautiful fresh garlic  (above) at Cultivate Oxford’s (@CultivateOxford) stall at the Summertown Farmers Market. Last weekend I had the very great pleasure to visit Susy Atkins (@SusyAtkins) at her beautiful cottage not far from Exeter where wild garlic carpets the valley.  She has recently published an amazing eponymous collection called Make Your Own Drinks and we discussed a bespoke fruit cordial for St Giles that we are already busy preparing.

And in this last week too, some very expert cleaners have been at the café removing several years of grease.

Scroll down if you really want to see what they removed………………..






st g grease



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One Comment
  1. Merry Baskin permalink

    gross! let me know if you want some Wild Garlic on Tuesday – we can bring a sackful merry & philly xx

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