Keen for a break from the office on a sunny day, Dave and I decided to head down to Rick’s Café on Cowley Road. Famed for its magnificent macaroons and cracking crêpes, it seemed like a good spot to check out. Arriving we were greeted with a friendly smile but became quickly overwhelmed. Macaroons! So many colours and flavours of macaroon! And so much tea! Panicking, we quickly ordered some coffee, foregoing the enormous range of exciting boutique teas, all of which are available to have a sniff of before buying. As we waited, other interesting drinks became apparent, like their iced tea with real fruit, or the fabled white hot chocolate.
The coffee did not disappoint, however, delivering a much needed boost during a mid-morning slump. My double macchiato - the previous evening had been far too long, barbequing long into the night with Dave – was perfectly balanced with a good roast and the right amount of milk. Dave’s flat white boasted good flavour, a balanced addition of milk and, along with my drink, featured artwork as standard, always a sign of care. The drinks are incredibly reasonably priced, with the macchiato costing £1.70 and the flat white at £2.20, a pinch for the quality.
In the face of increased competition Rick’s has retained individuality through its distinctive menu, offering a range of delicious cakes, toasties and a full selection of sweet and savoury crêpes. The French theme is not overemphasised or forced, but merely a subtle influence on menu choices. Unfortunately we didn’t spot the crêpe menu until halfway through our coffees – we were too distracted by the cake counter – but they have a strong reputation, especially in the Daily Info office. Instead we maximized on cake intake, ordering a selection of macaroons, a chocolate praline cheesecake and a classic millefeuille, which between two people was far too much - greed is a dangerous thing. The macaroons are brightly coloured and enticing, with flavour to deliver. Helped out by the lovely barista, we had a few different flavours, all of which were not overpowered by sweetness, instead allowing the taste to float through. The millefeuille on the other hand could not compare; the basic flavours were decent enough but the pastry was tough, chewy and difficult to cut. But fear not! The cheesecake absolved all issues with lightness, creaminess and heavenliness. Fairly rich yes, but if you don’t fill up on other cakes first it’s well worth it.
The atmosphere was great for a mid-morning break on a sunny August Friday. The large windows and sliding doors opening onto Cowley Road let in lots of natural light and a pleasant breeze without compromising on traffic noise. The bare brick walls festooned with local art are almost a coffee shop staple, but blend well with the assorted sofas and tables to create a comfortable and welcoming ambience. Much more exciting was the soundtrack: a bizarre compilation of docile acoustic covers of rock classics proved confusing and delightful, a solid backdrop to build the mood of the café. This, combined with the huge range of delicious food on offer, meant that Rick’s would definitely be worth spending several hours in, or a comfortable setting for a quick drink. As more coffee shops spring up around the Cowley Road area, we should continue to support those establishments that have served us for years, and continue to provide great quality and kindly service.
Dave Decides: ‘Get the pistachio macaroon, a real winner with a flat white. Also the easy listening cover of Roxanne will be playing in my dreams.’