Saturday, 26 December 2009

Purley Café

The Purley Café is right next door to Purley Swimming Pool and I'll be back for one of its Workmen's Breakfasts. Good caff as tea, in a mug, is only 60p.

An interesting caff if ever there was one, the Purley Café is definitely going to get a return visit from yours truly. Why? Well, it has an interesting selection of breakfasts including one called a Workmen's Breakfast (basically a huge, 'two of everything' on a plate: sausages, bacon, black pudding, beans, the works) and all for under a fiver.

I only had time for a cup of tea – make that a mug – and it set me back just 60p. I was considering a slice of toast but had the car in the multi-storey and time was running out on my ticket.

The Purley Café seemed like a friendly and busy place even if it did have those awful 'screwed-to-the-floor tables and chairs found in fast food restaurants (I use the word 'restaurant' advisedly).

Anyway, it was good and will get a return visit as it's right next door to Purley Swimming Pool.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Caffe Gusto, Pallisades, Birmingham

The Caffe Gusto unit in the Pallisades shopping centre in Birmingham. Notice the excellent mug of tea that only cost £1.20!

Wandering around Birmingham in early December, the Christmas markets in full swing and I'm feeling a little weary after a late night at a club in King's Heath. A good cure for weariness is a decent caff and I found one in a shopping centre on top of New Street railway station. Not that I wasn't spoilt for choice: there was a Starbuck's just opposite.

I chose Caffe Gusto for a number of reasons. One, it was small and cosy; two there were some great meal deals (Cheese & Bacon Toastie plus coffee for £2.50); three, because it offered free wi-fi; and four because it was billed as the British Sandwich Association's Coffee and Sandwich Bar Retailer of the Year 2009. I had images of a stage and the managing director of the chain, in a dress suit, collecting his trophy from some sponsor or other at a 'gala dinner' in London.

There were decent breakfast offers too so I opted for scrambled eggs on toast with the option of either beans (which I chose), mushroom or bacon (£3.95). That and a large mug of tea (£1.20) and I was sorted for the day. It was Saturday December 6th, the day after the world cup draw – the reason why I was in the club the night before. I'd spent the night in a dreary Travelodge in a place called Maypole where, at around 4am, I was awoken by the shouts of drunken revellers in the corridor outside my room. There was no decent breakfast offer at the Travelodge, hence my quest to find a decent caff.

Caffe Gusto was packed for early Saturday morning. I love shopping centre caffs with 'alfresco eating areas', ie not really al fresco because they're in a shopping centre, but there you have it, I still had that feeling that I was sitting outside.

The Wi-Fi didn't work for some reason. I think it clashed with the nearby Starbuck's, which I think offered Wi-Fi but not for free. Why the hell would anybody visit a Starbuck's when there's a Caffe Gusto nearby?

Bristol-based Caffe Gusto has 11 outlets there, two in Birmingham and one in Staines, Middlesex, in London (which is a franchised store).

For more information on Caffe Gusto, click here.