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One Sip Cafe Club

Supporting Independent Cafes, One Sip At A Time!

One Sip Review: CookieShake Café

Name:  CookieShake Cafe
Address: 14 Upper Parliament Street, Nottingham, United Kingdom
Website: http://www.cookieshake.com/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/cookieshake.nottingham)
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CookieShakeUK
In Their Own Words: ‘Milkshake masters and mistresses since 2006.’

So recently I wrote over on one of my other blogs, The Intrepid Cyclist, about a trip I made up the River Trent to get to Beeston. It so happens I had made that journey once before back in June to get Nottingham – now, that adventure wasn’t written up fully, but here’s the short version: I rode 20 miles along a river, I was hungry.

So what do you do when you’re low on calories and high on life?

Why, patronise an independent cafe of course!

I wasn’t just low on calories, I was also low on time – I was due to go to the Nottingham Glee Club to see a burlesque show by The Gilded Merkin (it was absolutely fantastic, by the way) and the Cafe I had intended on going to (which shall remain nameless, thanks to my No Negativity Policy) had committed two terrible crimes – firstly, closing early on a sunday and (even worse) closing even before the information on their website said they would.

This is really bad news for independents, but I will be devoting a whole blog post to that at a future date.

But one cafe’s loss is another’s gain, and so I set off to find an alternative.

I was surprised and delighted to find CookieShake Cafe – a gaming lounge and milkshake combo which should tickle the thumbs and tastebuds of the modern dairy-loving, Doom playing, digital-downloading lil’ devils out there!

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Overall Experience
Upon entering, I was immediately taken by the HUGE boards on the wall listing the number of milkshakes you could have. This place knows its core business, and it knows how to communicate it: a massive board, with clear options, clear pricing and bright colours. I was equally dazzled by the light-up board adorning the counter which tells you about all the naughty shots available.

I stared at the wall for a few minutes, paralysed by the vast amount of choice – eventually I chose a KITKAT CHUNKY MILKSHAKE (it requires capitals) for some energy, but I did need some solid food too.

The only savoury food option were cheese toasties (erroneously referred to as ‘grilled cheese’ on the menu – this is NOT America. Yet.) so I went for possibly the naughtiest one – The Mac Daddy, macaroni and cheese in a toastie. Double carbs right there!

NB: Currently the website does NOT list these cheese toasties but DOES include pizza slices. Now, my visit was back in June, however websites are not always accurate so I cannot (at this time) confirm which option will be available if you choose to visit. I’ll try to find out though!

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I was one of the only customers in the cafe, which was on the one hand a bit disappointing – this is the type of place that deserves to be frequented by many patrons, especially on  Saturday night as it was – but it did give me a chance to chat to the staff. Being hit with a massive adrenaline/endorphin/serotonin high from all the exercise and accomplishment, I managed to overcome my natural diffidence and talk with the good folks manning the pumps. I think I may have come across as a little too bright and perky, but we’re not here to talk about my social shortcomings. We’re here to talk about cafes, and their various qualities.

The gentlemen behind the counter were very polite and tolerant of my over-social burbling, and even seemed genuinely interested in the cycle ride I insisted on telling them about…again, this is not a blog about my awkwardness, but the fact that they were kind enough to indulge me means that customer service is pretty darn solid.

The young (argggg I am old) chap who brought my food even said he put extra M&C in my toastie as a reward for accomplishing the long journey – whether this was strictly true I don’t know, but it did give me a warm glow.

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Whatever the quantity, I do know for sure that the quality was excellent. A simple dish is a complex thing, I always think – getting something ‘easy’ right and making it better – specifically, better than you could make it at home – is harder than it looks.

I finished it up and it was delicious – in fact, I went back for a second round of the (if you insist) ‘grilled cheese’, this time with chicken and pesto (I forget the name).

On to surroundings – the place is decorated in a kind of industrial-modern style, with lots of cast-iron upcycled furniture and fun decor, plus of course some games machines on which people can play if they are (unlike me) skilled at such things. Its comfy but cool and the junky-come-neon combination makes it kind-of steampunk, something which always makes me happy.

Before I left there was one more things to do – I had had a shake, but I could not leave without eating the other half of this establishment i.e. a Cookie. Had I not, I would surely disappoint my public. I’m only thinking of you, guys.

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It was a nutella swirl cookie and it was absolutely lovely.

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Consider my duty fulfilled.

Spekti’s Seven Fiddy Test
PASSED
Plus if you choose wisely you can get a shake, a toastie and a cookie for the princely sum of £8.50 – boom!

Suggestions
Something other than toasties to eat! (NB: see note about Pizza above).
After a delicious milkshake you really need a palette cleanser of some kind – the toasties are great but piling dairy on dairy is sometimes a little much. Some fresh fruit hanging around might be fun, or just some not-melted-cheese-having sandwiches.

More Info
Pets Allowed? I didn’t check, but I’m guessing that due to the cables around and potential for nibbling and gnawing of said cables that it might be a no.
Alcohol? Yes – in the evening you can get some naughty drinks, including many (MANY) varieties of shots

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Veggie/Vegan/Gluten Free? Lots and lots for veggies – not gelatin in these shakes! Gluten-free will of course depend on what you decide to put in your shake (ditto nut allergies) and given the limited cheese-toastie (or possibly pizza) based menu, there are no food options for GF. Despite the massive focus on DAIRY, DAIRY AND MORE FREAKIN’ DAIRY, some of the shakes and smoothies can be made vegan with soya milk too!

Additional Services? Cookishake are Deliveroo now! Check out the page here: https://deliveroo.co.uk/menu/nottingham/nottingham-city-centre/cookieshake-cafe

News on the Loos – There are (as far as I recall) only two cubicles, one ladies, one gents, but they are very clean and painted with AWESOME graffiti.

The Bottom Line
A great, fun, cafe which will hit your guilty pleasure buttons – probably in a sequence which causes you to perform an awesome  beat-em-up finisher move.

My Review Of CookieShake Café On Google

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One Sip Review: The Book Café

Review: The Book Cafe

Name: The BookCafe
Address: 21 Cornmarket, Derby, DE1 1QH

Website:http://www.thebookcafe.co.uk/
In Their Own Words: ‘A friendly, relaxing & inspiring setting whether you visit alone or with a group of friends’

Overall Experience

I wasn’t intending to review the BookCafe so early in this  blog, partly because it seemed a little unfair. This blog is all about supporting businesses, after all and…well, you know sometimes when you join a group to lift a heavy piece of furniture and realise that, in fact, the majority of the weight is already taken and you are completely superfluous?

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What I’m trying to say is that the BookCafe is already doing fine without me or indeed any other self-styled blogger-hipster-come-wannabe-critic. It is highly successful, and it’s easy to see why.

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I popped in with a friend of mine, my treat to her for being such a sport and helping me with a load of stuff I was getting rid of prior to moving into my new, delightfully diddy, new place (read more about that over on my other blog). Spying that we were able to get a table early afternoon on a Saturday – not something that happens often – we jumped in. I have visited many times before and have always been pleased,  in fact I even considered renting the upstairs for my forthcoming birthday bash (more on that later) – there is also the point that it has a connection to Furthest From The Sea, a wonderful Derby-based arts and music collective which I was involved with quite heavily a couple of years ago – I still continue to be involved, albiet only tangentially. Their mutual support of one another was always a draw for me.

But Spekti, I hear you cry, what is it actually LIKE? Stop rambling and get to the chase!

Continue reading “One Sip Review: The Book Café”

One Sip Review: Good Green Café

Name: The Good Green Café
Address: 5-,6 The Strand, Derby DE1 1BQ

Website: https://www.facebook.com/GoodGreenCafe/
NB: Really worth a look – they have advertised their specials there before!

In Their Own Words: ‘A family run cosy coffee shop specialising in home cooked crepes and galettes’

Overall Experience
I have to admit I wasn’t planning a review when I ended up popping into the GGC. I was in town on other business, noon having come and gone and with several hours and a 10 mile cycle between  me and a promised barbecue dinner (in case you were interested, when I eventually got there the repast was very filling and, as with all barbecues, pleasingly excessive) and I was beginning to flag.

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It dawned on me that this unwelcome rumbling tummy could be turned to something more constructive, i.e. supporting a local independent retailer! So after passing by one of two other likely candidates, I settled on the Good Green, my eye having been caught by it just a week or two previously, and earmarked ‘urgent attention’. It is situated technically on the Strand, but more accessible via Sadlergate. This street in Derby is a kind of Darwinian obstacle course for small businesses, and there is always a morbid side to me that worries if an establishment will last long enough for a visit – thankfully the Goodies at the Green seem to be doing well, and I was instantly impressed by the bike-based, natural-tone furnishings. This particular shop front has several different café incarnations and this is by far the most pleasing, making use of the long, narrow space and giving it real character.

Continue reading “One Sip Review: Good Green Café”

One Sip Review: Baked

Baked CafeName: Baked Café
Address: 16 The Strand, The Cathedral Quarter, Derby, DE1 1BE


Website: http://www.baked-derby.com/
In Their Own Words: ‘Derby’s only artisan bakery and café’

Overall Experience
I’ve been wanting to visit Baked for a long time. It is on The Strand in Derby, one of my favourite little streets, not least because of it’s proximity to those great institutions the Library and the Museum and Art Gallery. With it’s kissing cousin The Arcade, I’m pleased to say the Strand, which was struggling, is undergoing a surge of welcome energy from local businesses, despite hard times, and Baked is a shining example. I am an absolute sucker for bread in all it’s forms, and the idea of an artisan bakery which is also a café had all my flâneur senses buzzing.

The Strand Continue reading “One Sip Review: Baked”

One Sip Review: Lavanta Cafe

Name: Lavanta Cafe
Address: 14 Saint Peter’s Churchyard, Derby, Derby DE1 1NR, UK


Website: http://www.cafelavanta.co.uk/
In Their Own Words: ‘Fresh, Natural, Mediterranean’

Overall Experience

Unassuming from the outside, tucked in between the wonderful independent art stored Reams and a solicitor’s, step within and you’ll find Lavanta Cafe is an absolute charmer.

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The decor is eclectic, rustic and refreshing, in keeping with their specialty of  Mediterranean Food. An almost entirely glass front gives Lavanta a really airy and open feel, even though the actual cafe area is quite small. It is nicely furnished with around half a dozen small tables, perhaps not ideal for a large party but perfect for the courting couples and friend-one-on-ones which I saw about me. It’s also great for singletons, and on a lovely day (as it was when I popped in) one or two tables are outside for folks who wants to take the air or have a little extra space – or indeed sit with their dogs.

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As soon as I took my seat I felt at ease; the arrangement of the space seems to be optimised for this and the service was extremely friendly and genuine. Despite the cosy size, you place your order at-seat, rather than at the till.

The menu is not extensive (see the picture and their website http://www.cafelavanta.co.uk/ ) but full of good stuff. Being unable to find anything veggie which caught my eye (my default on these occasions) I opted for a Chicken Sandwich with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Mozzarella and Pesto.

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NB: (The special, their daily home-made quiche, looked very tempting but I wanted something hot – also, on the veggie side, they don’t skimp, in fact they have a veggie mezze platter available, but that’s more for sharing)

To accompany my sarnie (which turned out to be lightly toasted- mmm melty mozzarella!) I had an eye-catchingly inventive Peach and Ginger Smoothie which tingled my tastebuds delightfully – I’m not normally a ginger fan, but things like this are winning me round!

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Both of these were delicious and I settled down for a post-prandial people-watch – it is not on the high street itself, just off it, so the footfall is not huge, but nevertheless my fellow patrons and the occasional citizen walking by outside gave me ample satisfaction. Basking in the warm glow of a melt sandwich, I wanted more – I didn’t quite manage to stop at the tenner barrier, instead zipping past it like some money-based concord, but I slammed the brakes on and managed to get a very lovely Early Grey Tea (with this adorable milk jug) and a sweet for the grand total of £11.20 – not bad!

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Before I left a very interesting lady called Jo caught my eye and ear  – I assumed she was wondering why, at the time, I was taking photos of the lovely bird-themed wallpaper – but instead she wanted to tell me she thought I looked like Tom Cruise! I was flattered of course, but I have to say I think it was a bad day for the Cruiser-Bruiser.

Also, another nice touch – little pieces of turkish delight on the counter in place of after-dinner mints! I didn’t take one…this time round.

Spekti’s Seven Fiddy Test

Pass

It’s a close one! Given that the basic unit in Lavanta is around £7.00 for the most exciting and hearty dishes (and £4.00 each for one of the aforementioned smoothies) you have to choose with care, but yes, it is possible to get yourself a meal and a drink under seven fiddy.  I’d go for the Tuna and Olive Sandwich with a draft of Peach Nectar, or possibly the Mushrooms on Toast if you’re in for breakfast.

Suggestions

1. Outside Signage – the outside is by no means terrible and the large blinds definitely help bring shade and atmosphere on a bright day, the sign really doesn’t do any favours in terms of attracting potential customers – nor does it blend in with the inside decor. A pity, as it’s so nice inside!

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2. One thing that I felt would be a really nice touch would be some info – either on the menus or on the walls or in little leaflets – on the subject of ‘What is Mediterranean cooking?’. What is it that makes this type of thing unique, and what ingredients and flavours does it produce? I find this kind of thing endlessly fascinating and I’m sure others would too! It really rounds out the experience and makes you appreciate what you’re eating.

3. I am a bit of a grump about crisps with my sandwiches – I was pleased that accompanying my toastie were proper kettle chips, a favourite of mine which have thankfully become a standard, but I feel something something more inventive, more Mediterranean, could easily be substituted for uniqueness – flavoured nuts, perhaps, or olives? Just a thought.

More Info
Pets Allowed? Only outside, it’s a little too small for doggies!
Alcohol? There are no alcoholic drinks on the menu, and I don’t think I saw any – I didn’t confirm it, though
Veggie/Vegan/Gluten Free? Veggie options are plentiful but for vegans I would say the choices are very few – this is because of the reliance on eggs, so maybe not one for the double Vs. Also, I did not see any gluten free options , and there is a warning to say that nuts are an important part of many of their dishes, so if you have an allergy, probably best to be careful.
Additional Services? Lavanta also offer an external catering service – find out all about it on their website! http://www.cafelavanta.co.uk/about.html

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Bottom Line:
Great for couples, friends and singles – friendly, fun and fresh!

Map and Review Of Café Lavanta On Google

My Review Of Lavanta On TripAdvisor

My Review Of Lavanta On Facebook

 

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