Places to Visit 1

16 Sep

In what will become a regular feature on this site, I will be reviewing some of my favourite places to visit, including coffee shops, restaurants, museums and more, both all over this country and beyond. As a special treat you get three reviews for the price of one today!

The Indigo Coffee Shop, Cambridge: The Indigo is a tiny coffee shop just opposite King’s College, which despite its size is an incredibly popular meeting place for students in Cambridge. The reason perhaps lies in its intimate atmosphere – the main seating area upstairs is barely larger than a college room and it is almost always full, especially at weekends. Even when it is standing room only in there, The Indigo still has a far more congenial atmosphere than the larger but inevitably more sterile chain coffee houses that now crowd King’s Parade, the most iconic street in Cambridge. Personally, I like the Indigo because, with its walls papered with notices of poetry readings, plays and concerts and the steady background hum of the jazz music that always seems to be on, it projects just the right sort of mixture of cultured and lowbrow that I like in my coffee shops.

Joe and the Juice, London: In much the same way that this post is a three-in-one review, Joe and the Juice somehow manages to be a café, juice bar, and social club all at the same time. Located in perhaps the busiest part of London, just opposite Oxford Circus tube station, it is nevertheless not an easy place to find (most people I mention it to accuse me of making it up!). This is not surprising, since this small, independent café bar lounge is easy to miss, tucked away as it is among all those chain stores, wine bars and coffee shops crowding Oxford Street. Whilst the smoothies here are to die for (and totally natural to boot), Joe and the Juice really comes alive at night when it hosts art exhibitions, band nights and poetry readings. These occasions tend to be frequented by the bohemian in-crowd visiting from the nearby Regent’s Park area, but the place always has a welcoming vibe as well as that rare thing – service with a smile!

The Chiang Mai Soup Kitchen, Oxford: Not a place that you would know about if you’d never been to Oxford before, but beloved by generations of students who had their first experience of Thai food here, the Chiang Mai really lives up to the hype – although you would not be able to tell that from its location. Situated down a dark alleyway just off Carfax Square, first-time visitors would be forgiven for feeling a sense of apprehension as they approach the entrance to this famous Thai soup kitchen. For me though, this is part of the Chiang Mai’s charm, since it brings to mind the back streets of Bangkok – an impression which is further enhanced by the rickety steps leading up to the entrance and the delicious smells that waft your way as you approach. Once inside, however, there can be no dispute that this restaurant is the real thing as far as authentic, tasty Thai food goes – the green curry and Pad Thai in particular are making my mouth water as I write this. The best Thai in the Thames Valley by a mile.

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