Well listeners – here I am again with yet another new-to-me cafe. This time Cafe Nexus Cheney Manor.
Yep, tucked away at the back of a business block on the Cheney Manor industrial estate. Who knew? Well a lot of people it seems as I think it’s been there for a good old while. Anyway – earlier this week I visited it for first time for breakfast with some chums of mine.
‘If you’re looking for an affordable breakfast or lunch that doesn’t compromise on quality, then visit us at Café Nexus.
Situated overlooking a riverside, Café Nexus is the idyllic setting to enjoy freshly-made food in comfortable surroundings.
Create your perfect breakfast or lunch from our deli bar, or order from the kitchen one of our carefully designed dishes or specials.
And for those in a hurry, why not simply pre-order your meal for collection? Serving the finest illy Coffee, Tea and nutritious food, make Café Nexus your weekday eatery. Hot food served until 14:30 Monday to Friday Deli bar until 17:00 Monday to Thursday 15:00 Friday.’
NB: COVID SERVICE – REDUCED HOURS:
Monday to Friday: hot food served until 14:00 Deli food served until 14:15
The office building behind which you’ll find Cafe NexusCheney Manor.
A surprising setting
What makes this cafe so charming, aside from the tasty food and super friendly service, is the cafe’s setting. Because what you’d never know from the view you see above is that it enjoys a delightful river view. Isn’t that fabulous?
In the current Covid climate they’ve created an environment that feels safe and comfortable – so it’s definitely worth a visit. But you do have to book of course.
There’s ample free parking in front of the building so another good reason to give it a try.
The review below is from Gary Hazell, one of the party with whom I went to the cafe.
I opted for the small English breakfast and a regular black coffee – and jolly nice it was too. It kept me full for hours.
So! This week saw me in Swindon town centre for the first time since March. It felt very odd I have to tell you. But in a good way. Meeting someone over lunchtime to make an exchange of my new guidebook for the requisite sum of money, said person suggested we meet up at Love Brownies Swindon. Loving a new coffee shop/cafe/eatery I agreed. Indeed, should you be following either the GWR heritage trail or the New Swindon exploration in said guide book, this place would make for a good pit-stop.
Having been shielding since the Covid induced lockdown – and emerging into my family bubble in Surrey not long back – I had no idea about this place.
The people behind the baked goods
Love Brownies is a franchise with a small number of shops across the country. Running the Swindon branch are Adam Clarke and Amy Elmer, Swindon residents of 15 years standing.
‘Not only do we have the most amazing brownies, but we pride ourselves on our service. So if you’re looking for an experience that’s just that little bit different then we’d love to see you. The shop serves up award-winning chocolate brownies, brownie milkshakes, gifts, and a range of premium, freshly-brewed coffees, as well as a breakfast and lunch menu.’
I loved the decor. It felt like walking into an Ikea catalogue. It’s super Scandi with a mix of white and light wood tables and chairs, sofas and long bench seating with colourful cushions. I love where it is too. It’s on Faringdon Road – on the corner of Catherine Street with a view to the ever-so-lovely GWR Railway Village. It’s perfect.
Whether you want somewhere to meet a friend as I did, or somewhere for a spot of remote working the place is well worth a try. Indeed, on the topic of the latter, Tech Swindon included the cafe in their blog post on the best coffee shops for remote working in Swindon.
Before COVID, one of my small pleasures involved sitting at the window table and looking across to the houses in the Railway Village through the steam on the windows, enjoying an excellent cup of coffee.
Coffee (and tea and cake and sandwiches) are at present being served for take away at the front of the shop. Despite the reduced service ,the coffee and the warm welcome remain the same. I’m looking forward, one day, to taking that seat in the window again and watching the world go by.
Reflections on a coffee shop by Chris Eley
Darkroom Espresso Faringdon Road
Darkroom Espresso is s specialty coffee shop in the centre of Swindon, in the old Railway village. It opened in September 2014 and is now owned & run by local barista Stephen Jordan.
Stephen was already a long serving member of staff at Darkroom before taking on ownership in March 2019
The name of Darkroom Espresso comes from the idea that making coffee requires the same craft, skill and care as developing a photo in a darkroom. We use speciality coffee from Round Hill Roastery & other guest roasters, a range of speciality teas, low-sugar hot chocolate, fresh bread from Hobbs House and local cakes from V-Cuisine and Cakesmiths.
Despite the fact that I’m less than fond of cooking, I don’t spend a lot of dosh on takeaways/brought in meals. Not as a rule. But with the Covid-19 lockdown situation curtailing any socialising, I’ve treated myself here and there. So, when the opportunity arose to try this Swindon super salad company I jumped at the chance.
What is Super Salad? Super Salad is a small new company that has created what might just be the healthiest single serving meal in the world. It’s a bold statement but with our salad consisting of between 50 and 65 different ingredients and 25+ Superfoods we believe this just might be true.
If you want something at home – and don’t feel like cooking – but want to be healthy these are definitely worth considering.
The two salads I ate were chock full of different ingredients – all finely chopped. It would have taken me hours to create something like that. It takes me all day to make a bloody quiche – snipping bacon and chopping onions and garlic. Pfft.
You can get an idea, from the image of the leaflet above, of the range that the company offers.
Talking of garlic, I topped both of the salads that I tried with garlic in olive oil, cubes of feta and a few vine ripened chopped tomatoes. And with that, each one was surprisingly filling! This is an important point – I do have quite an appetite (this why I’m not a size 10) so filling me up can be a challenge.
If I’m honest, I found the two that I had a bit on the bland side. That could be my palate – what with me being addicted to chilli olive oil. But anyway, that’s a minor negative soon sorted with a sprinkling of that Himalayan pink salt stuff – it doesn’t half give food a lift does that.
So what you get here is something that’s refreshing and filling. Uber nutritious and full of fibre. I think if you’re trying to lose weight but don’t want to forgo a takeaway treat, these salads are a good option and good value for money.
Swindon Super Salad also do a home-delivery fruit salad with which to finish off your super healthy meal.
I tend not to eat much fruit. I don’t personally consider fruit to be food for a start. And aside from that it mostly makes me fart and smell like dead people. Or so my daughter tells me.
However, eaten together with a piece of lemon drizzle cake brought to me by a friend, it was most enjoyable. Though I suppose the cake rather negated all the other healthfullness. Oh dear. How sad. It was was good though!
Well listeners. This Swindon in 50 Drinks post No 10: Arkell’s Ales, is something of a milestone. Not because it’s the 10th post in the series. Oh no. Rather, it’s because today is the day after our current Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, put the country into a condition that is lockdown in all but name. The reason for that being the pandemic Covid-19 – also known as the coronavirus.
It’s all rather frightening TBH. And of course it’s curtailed my plans to progress this series of the blog – for obvious reasons. But – I happened to have a couple of bottles of Arkell’s in my store. Thus this post – the last for a while.
Me on YouTube with a rather unfortunate stop point!:
About Arkell’s Brewery
If you’ve got a copy of Swindon in 50 Buildingsyou’ll be familiar with Arkell’s. If you haven’t got a copy – why not? I have some – get in touch. 🙂
‘John Arkell was a remarkable man. Born into a farming family in 1802 in Kempsford, South Gloucestershire, he emigrated to the New World in his late twenties and took with him a group of local people who sought a refuge from the tough conditions endured by agricultural folk at that time. It was a brave step.
They arrived in Canada and established the small community of Arkell – which still exists today – but three years later, John returned for love. His fiancée preferred to live in England so he came home to marry and set up home in Stratton St Margaret, near Swindon, where he grew barley on his farm.’
The step from there to brewing beer was an obvious one. At that time, many pubs and even private homes, brewed beer. But John Arkell’s foresight saw the potential for supplying beer to a string of other pubs along with his own, recently-bought Kingsdown pubs.
With immaculate timing, he picked a moment when Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Swindon’s founding father, chose Swindon to site his GWR Works. Thus the once-sleepy market town was already growing into a thriving – and thirsty – industrial heartland.
The Beers – No 10: Arkell’s Ales
It’s clear that Arkell’s have a rather large selection of beer – and I only have two of them. The two that you see in the picture below.
‘Since its release in 2013 to celebrate our 170th anniversary, our lager, 1843 Craft Lager, has become one of our most popular, award-winning brands.
This is a classic ‘craft’ lager brewed using pale malt with some wheat added for extra body and mouth feel and traditional lager hops. It is gradually fermented at a much lower temperature and matured for 3 weeks in tank at an even lower temperature to produce a pleasant, light, refreshing beer.
This year as part of our 175th anniversary and after consulting some of our loyal drinkers we have decided to update its name to Malthouse Craft Lager, named after the old Malthouse that was built here at the brewery by our founder John Arkell in 1877.’
And that’s it for now, for #swindonin50rinks See you on the other side I hope!
From thePeroni official website we learn that the Peroni family conceived this beer in 1963. A beer to embody Italian values of quality and craftsmanship. They describe the beer as being brewed through three generations of master brewers. According to them: ‘Peroni Nastro Azzurro uses only the finest ingredients, including our exclusive Nostrano dell’Isola maize.’
Thus, they say, they deliver a beer that is crisp and refreshing with a delicate balance of bitterness, citrus and spicy aromas with a fast, clean finish. I have no sense of smell so can’t comment on the aroma part.
THE NOSTRANO DELL’ISOLA MAIZE
The maize used by Peroni they obtain from the small town of Bergamo in northern Italy. The town produces the maize only for Peroni.
Lying in the Lombardy region is a fertile plain, between the rivers of Adda and Brembo, known by the locals as the ‘island earth’. Here are perfect conditions for growing maize. An absence of frost, the cilmate and the soil – irrigated by melted snow from the Alps – creates this ideal environment.
The Peroni Brewery
To learn about the Peroni Brewery visit Beer and Brewing.ComThey say: ‘Peroni Brewery, founded as the Birra Peroni Brewery in 1846 by the Peroni family in Vigevano, Italy. In 1864 Giovanni Peroni moved the brewery to Rome, where it soon began to prosper. The first advertising for Peroni beer appeared in 1910 and helped popularize the brand …
… The second largest brand is Nastro Azzurro, meaning “Blue Ribbon” in Italian. Nastro Azzuro is a premium lager at 5.1% ABV launched in 1963.
First brewed in 1859, this beer is made with a blend of quality ingredients and a barely-changed brewing process. According to the Beers of Europe website what you can expect from this beer is a delicate citrus hop base and a top note of wholemeal bread. All I know is that it’s a tasty and refreshing 4.6%.
Heineken bought the company in 1996. Nothing is what it seems eh?
As for the label on the bottle: It appears that, in 1942, Moretti’s nephew noticed a dapper chap in a restaurant in Udine. He asked if he could take the man’s picture. The diner said ‘yes’ in exchange for another beer. From that day to this he adorns every bottle of Moretti beer.
The Da Vinci Restaurant and Pizzeria
These Swindon in 50 drinks posts are more about the drink than the venue. But I have to say, I have a soft spot for this place. The food is good and good value. The staff are friendly. And – you get a tablecloth and linen napkin. A rare treat these days. If you’ve not been then give them a try.