Monday, 4 June 2012

Cafe Loco, Oxford

Jubilee celebrations in Oxford
Union flag outside Christ Church
I'm thoroughly enjoying the 4-day Jubilee weekend. It's provided me with yet another excuse to go out for my second afternoon tea in as many days!

My friend Steve visited me today. He's from the USA so was keen to enjoy this English tradition. Having walked past a sign saying 'scones' earlier on in the day and hearing Steve utter this word with excitement, I was pleased to realise that no persuasion would be needed on my part. This is a dream situation for a Cream Tea Queen to find herself in.

I've learnt a lot from my afternoon tea excesses of yesterday (which - I think I forgot to mention at the time - were preceded by a rather large family lunch), so planned today's build-up accordingly. It's all about strategy! We therefore had a light lunch, followed by a stroll around Christ Church meadows. After an insightful trip to Christ Church college (a good tip for all Oxford residents: you can get in at a discounted rate if you provide proof of your address), we had worked up an appetite for scones.
Alice in Wonderland at Cafe Loco
Alice in Wonderland on the cafe wall

I decided to take Steve to Cafe Loco on St Aldates. Having been there a few times already, I knew this cafe and liked the handy location - in amongst the sights of Oxford, looking out at Christ Church college - as well as the drinks and food, which are reasonably priced. After the trip to the college I also understood the significance of the Alice in Wonderland paintings on the walls of the cafe.

Luckily for me, Matt arrived at the cafe a few minutes ahead of Steve and I and secured us a table. (Thinking about my blog from yesterday, I feel that I'm quite good at turning up fashionably late and not needing to queue. Other Cream Tea Queens should take note!) That said, the cafe wasn't too busy and there were a few other free tables.

Small scones at Cafe Loco
Small scones
We all ordered the scones with tea (£5.50). They didn't take long to arrive, although we felt slightly letdown when they did; the icing sugar dusting on the top did nothing to cover up the fact that they were small. Not as small as you'd expect scones to be when you order a high tea at an upper class establishment, but not nearly as big as my scone-loving nature would hope for. To make up for this fact they were warm. A delightful, non-soggy warmth that implies they have just come out of the oven. Things were looking up.

Upon cutting them we realised that they were slightly dry on the inside. As experts in the field, we came to the conclusion that they'd been overheated by approximately 30 seconds. I'm not sure if they were fruit scones or plain scones. They both had a few pieces of fruit in them, although I suspect they were plain scones masquerading as fruit scones.

The scones came with a pot of clotted cream and a pot of jam, just enough for the two scones. A good situation to find yourself in as I hate wasting food, but equally so it can be embarrassing when you have to ask for more. As with other cream teas I've had, the jam was slightly disappointing; not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but certainly not homemade either.

Afternoon tea at Cafe Loco
Scones and tea
(Watching Matt having difficulty spread his cream on top of the jam, I realised that there is scope for further investigation into how people eat their scones. Watch this space blog readers.)

The only other thing that's left to comment on is the tea. Bags, not loose leaf, so no need for the rather fancy tea strainer that I enjoyed using so much yesterday. We didn't want for further cups of tea, but my Welsh friends should note that no extra hot water was provided.

I've been mulling over what score to give this afternoon tea. It's a tricky one. The scones weren't that great, but their freshness and relatively good price does also count for a lot. The cafe itself is nice too. After much deliberation I'm going to give it a 6/10. I would definitely go back, but perhaps I'd stick to my usual choice of lunch or a slice of cake as they have never disappointed.

Happy scone eating,

The Cream Tea Queen


  1. Two cream teas in two days...RESPECT!

  2. Thank you Anna. As I say, it's a tall order but someone's got to do it ;-)

  3. Cant wait for the next installments!!! Alex's adventures in Sconederland.

    1. Thanks Shecamefromgreece. The next installment will follow soon, just in time for you to plan your weekend's afternoon tea outing....