Crepeaffaire, Chester

If you are ever in Chester and want a treat, this is the place to go.

After a rather ghastly evening experience in a well-known fast-food ‘restaurant’, we were looking for a good breakfast. We found it at Crepeaffaire. It’s a small place in Bridge Street. It does what it says: crepes.

Mrs O. had an eggs Florentine crepe, which she says was delicious, with a very good sauce; I can vouch for this, because as always she gave me a generous sample. I had smoked salmon and cream cheese, with extra spinach. The salmon tasted like salmon; it’s surprising how often it tastes like something cold and bland. Lovely.

Miss O. was dubious about her Bananalicious crepe, with banana and melted chocolate; but we ‘helped her out’ and we thought it was a tasty indulgence; she eventually grudgingly agreed.

All were a good size, well-filled and HOT; so often food arrives luke-warm or worse.

We had good coffee (and chocolate milkshake, which was definitely a success for Miss O). The total for three came to just over £30; more expensive than the aforementioned fast-food place, but all in all it felt like good value. The service was excellent.


It is, I have subsequently discovered, a chain, with some sixteen or so branches in this country. Nonetheless, it gets the Oblique recommendation. Their website is:

(By the way, I have not attempted the circumflex accent over the -e- in crepe. I’m not sure of the keyboard shortcut and it anyway seems to be mostly ignored in English.)


Káva Café, Todmorden

At first sight, Todmorden looks unprepossessing, especially on a grey, damp, misty day. However, a visit to Káva Café cheered us up hugely and made us appreciate the attractive nature of the town.

Oh dear, this is beginning to sound like one of those dreadful advertising reviews. But it’s true.

Káva is a real café, not a chain. It looks the part, with fairy lights and birds, as you can see in the photo. When we went, it was deservedly busy, as other folk obviously needed cheering up too. It has really good coffee, served on a little tray with a glass of water, something we have only experienced before in Croatia. It has an interesting, rather Middle Eastern and vegetarian menu, with meze, soup, salads, huevos rancheros, koofteh, mousaka….. You get the picture. We only had cake. I say only, but they were delicious: coffee, chocolate fudge and chocolate and orange.

Opening times are on the website; it also does interesting looking evening meals.

Link to Káva Café

The staff are extremely welcoming and hospitable, very willing to help. The toilets are clean (very important). It has the indefinable feel of a friendly place.

Todmorden is interesting: it has a canal, a viaduct, shops over the river and obviously a thriving life. If only we lived nearer Káva Café.

Bar El Camino, Puerto de la Cruz

In the unlikely event that you should find yourself in Puerto de la Cruz, I can recommend this tapas bar.

Bar 2Bar

It’s right on a steep path of terraces and steps, so passers-by are feet (sorry, a metre or two) away. The seating is limited: no more than seven or eight tables outside and a few inside. The menu is limited: a selection of tapas of the day. We took the line of least resistance the first time and had the mixed tapas. This was so successful we did it again.

20170901_133212We start with cold Dorado beer; hey, this isn’t England and it’s not real ale, you know. Then there’s warm bread and garlicky mayonnise. (A first: Miss O. the youngest eats it.) Then our tapas arrive. There are lovely soft butter beans; goat in a sauce; pork meatballs in a sauce; fish and potato wrapped in batter; potatoes; salad with olives and fish bits. That might be it. I got so excited I can’t necessarily remember. Sorry about the lack of detail, but it was all delicious. Miss O. has Canarian wrinkly potatoes in a spicy sauce and eats all of them. Wow!

BarraquitosWe follow this with barraquitos: layers of condensed milk (really), coffee, Quarante y Trés liqueur, whipped cream and lemon. I think. My Spanish is minimal. “Do you know how to drink this?” the waiter asks. Of course not. “Take a photograph on your phone, them stir it and drink.” It’s sweet, very much a holiday drink. We pay what seems a very low price for the outstanding meal we have had and wander off for a siesta.

(Bar El Camino, Camino de las Cabras, Puerto de la Cruz. Of course, it would be on Trip Advisor, wouldn’t it? I haven’t read any reviews though. Take it from me, it’s great.)

Forgotten Dishes 8: Soufflé Suissesse

This title is cheating. Souffle Suissesse is very much not a forgotten dish. However, I felt I wanted a link of some sort……

I was looking through the Sunday Times magazine, and found a recipe for this soufflé which looked fairly easy. Oh silly me. It’s apparently a Michel Roux Jr. signature dish… but hey, it’s a soufflé! I can make soufflés!

How can I have got it so wrong? Maybe I haven’t got the right dishes. Maybe I haven’t got the right techniques. I’m sure I got the right ingredients. There’s oodles of cream in this. It should be a sure success, even if not perfect.

Well, it was very rich, but as you can see, it was a puddle of rich goo. We ate it; the ever-enterprising Mrs O. even turned the left-overs into a flan. I think I’ll stick to tried and tested cheese soufflé in the future and leave such things to the professionals.


Brasserie Zédel, Picadilly, London

It was our 31st wedding anniversary, and the brief was to go somewhere romantic. Brasserie Zédel certainly was. It’s an Art Deco beauty; the food is wonderful and the service is faultless.


We went on a day when London was, bizarrely, patrolled by armed police and soldiers, following the sick atrocity in Manchester. The guns didn’t seem to worry most Londoners and tourists. The brasserie is just outside Picadilly Circus tube station; you go through a bar/ café, down into the depths and into what was a hotel ballroom. It’s just lovely. I couldn’t take photos that would do it justice. Look at the website: Brasserie Zédel. From where I was sitting, it reminded me of Manet’s painting of the bar at the Folies Bergere, but it’s far lovelier.

We splashed out, but there are some very good fixed price menus. Mrs O, with her customary sense of adventure, had frogs’ legs, with a garlic mayonnaise, which were excellent, then chicken in a champagne sauce, which was even better. I had a delicious fish soup, with rouille (a sauce of chilli peppers, garlic, etc.) and gruyère. This was outstanding, the rouille adding a lovely tang. My confit duck with lentils was good but not outstanding; to be honest, lentils are not really my thing, and I just find them uninspiring after the first few mouthfuls. We had the cheapest bottle of wine on the menu, a very appropriate and enjoyable white.

Dessert was outstanding. We both had Café Gourmand: a trio of lemon tart, with a lovely crunchy top, a rhubarb crème, and a chocolate roulade, with a cafetière of coffee (just coffee, none of your cappuccino latte frappé thingies). Oh, and a Cointreau. Just to show that lunchtime drinking is not yet dead.

The waiting staff are just remarkable (especially in a restaurant with apparently 300 seats.) I have never, ever had such good service. They were polite, helpful and attentive without being pushy. I get the feeling that they treat everybody, from business lunchers to tourists to middle-aged couples celebrating their anniversary with the same courtesy.

The cost for us was just over £100, with service; however fixed prices start at £9.75. This was an unforgettable meal for us. We strolled out into the London sunshine, rather sleepy, to see the Hockney exhibition at Tate Britain. (A curate’s egg. Don’t worry if you missed it.) We recommend Brasserie Zédel without such reservations.

(I have shown one picture from the website, without knowing any copyright issues; I will of course remove it if there are any problems.)

Forgotten Dishes 7: Memsahib Scones

A strange cultural mix, this one.

In the days of British rule in India a memsahib instructed her cook to make her fruit scones. Unfortunately she was very peremptory and had not bothered to learn Hindi. The poor cook did her best, and ended up with what were basically chapatis layered with local fruit.

These were apparently rather appreciated by the British rulers and enjoyed a brief popularity.

They were mentioned in an old children’s book called something like ‘Child Heroes of the Raj’, allegedly as a true story. (This stirring book was along the lines of one I used to have called ‘From Powder Monkey to Admiral’.) I read it at school in our very eccentric class library. I have never seen it since and have been unable to trace it.

I have no idea what these chapati/ scones look like, so have photographed some of Mrs Oblique’s creations with some fruit that is grown in India. Yes, it is. I checked.


Boston Tea Party, Honiton

Boston Tea Party is a small chain of cafés in the South West. We visited the Honiton branch for breakfast on a Sunday. It is, as we trendy types say, jolly good.

It is located in what was presumably a Georgian shop in the High Street. It has wooden floors and somewhat varied wooden tables and chairs. In this respect it is like the Exeter branch, which we used to visit some years ago. (That may well have changed, but was quirky and equally lovely.)

I had Eggs Royale, on sourdough bread, with slices of radish. Sourdough is annoyingly overused, but it really worked with the eggs and salmon, as to my surprise did the radish. It was delicious. Mrs Oblique had Chorizo Hash, with spinach, mushrooms, roasted tomatoes and poached egg on top. It was equally delicious; we really couldn’t fault it. The coffee (proper filter coffee) was excellent. Miss Oblique as usual went for pains au chocolat and there was appropriate silence while she ate them.

What’s not to like? Nothing. The rest of the menu looks varied but not over-long, and it all involves a large proportion of locally sourced ingredients. The atmosphere is relaxed and the staff are friendly, polite and attentive but not pushy. If you sit at the front there is a pleasant view of the street and the non-conformist churchgoers opposite. There is a garden at the back. The customers are a mix of regulars and visitors. I commend it!


Footnote: I notice that BTP now have 19, soon to be 20, cafés. I hope they maintain their independent feel. Catch them now! (No, of course they don’t sponsor me…..)

Boston Tea Party

BTP Honiton