on November 10, 2012
Woodstock Cafe in Selly Oak is a wonderful place to pop in for a baguette or jacket potato for lunch, when I lived in Selly Oak I’d often be found in here at lunchtime because the prices are so reasonable and the food so tasty. Even now I've moved away I still return here and there when I'm in the area, it doesn't change from visit to visit and I find the eccentric little cafe incredibly welcoming for this reason. It’s a similar set up to Subway where you tell them exactly what salad items you want on your baguette and then choose a filling from the menu board. The end result is a delicious baguette that will keep you going all day because the staff are so generous with their filling; you don't see them counting the cucumber slices as happens in the highly commercialised Subway, being someone who doesn't like too much salad on a sandwich I find myself having to tell the server to stop when they go overboard with lettuce or peppers! The choices range from the standard ham right up to more unusual Mediterranean fillings, everything I’ve tried here has been delicious apart from one baguette I had which had loads of black olives in there. Now, I hate olives so the fact that I didn’t like this was not the cafes fault in the slightest - more me being a numpty and ordering a food I loathe! I prefer a DIY baguette personally so don't tend to order from the baguette fillings menu; my daughter had a delicious looking tuna baguette when we last visited which was ordered from the menu, it was so full she had to hold a napkin under her baguette as she was eating to catch the tuna which was squeezing out with each bite! On this occasion I had a cheese and bacon Panini which was perfectly proportioned and absolutely delightful, this was served with a side salad of my choosing - the salad being crisp, fresh and plentiful to really compliment my sandwich. In the winter the jacket potatoes are excellent comfort food and again they come with a range of fillings from cheese to ratatouille so there is something to suit everyone. I've eaten dozens and dozens of jacket potatoes and have sampled every variety on the menu (apart from chilli - yeuch!) with none being anything less than perfect. I did have a dodgy jacket potato once, it was bigger than average and was hard in the middle - the staff member who dealt with my complaint was excellent; embarrassed about the meal not being right, offering me an alternative and refunding the money for my meal. Tip top customer services, as ever. This has been something that has impressed me for years actually in this cafe, leading from my very first visit where I found myself with a soggy baby and caught short with no nappies - the girl serving went to another customer (a friend of hers I assume) and borrowed a nappy for me, it was so friendly that I didn't feel any embarrassment whatsoever and as I lived locally at the time I bumped into the lady again and returned the favour. The staff in Woodstock are all lovely and will chat as they are preparing your food, I always get the impression that they are really interesting in what I’m saying rather than just talking for the sake of it. It's all very relaxed and informal, designed to make the place feel as chilled out and Woodstock-ey as possible - it's efficient behind this aura of relaxation however and service is quick and always accurate, right down to me always getting the partially cremated bacon I've ordered rather than the paler imitation I usually receive in high street cafes. The staff are always busy, whether they're making up orders, serving drinks or clearing mess and dirty crocks off the tables - considering how busy this place gets (especially when the uni is in session) I'm always slightly amazed by how clean and tidy the cafe is, I've never seen mess left on tables for more than a couple of minutes and everything always looks spotless. The atmosphere in Woodstock is very chilled out and comfortable, sometimes I’ll go in with a magazine and sit reading that for an hour without being disturbed - apart from when I want another delicious fresh coffee that is! Usually when I'm out I'll opt for a cappuccino or mocha coffee but in Woodstock I always have a black coffee; it started off when I discovered the cafe while dieting so ordered black coffee and low fat baguettes and meals, I realised (after drinking a cappuccino one day) that their coffee is so fresh and tasty that I actually prefer the unadulterated drink. The customers are mainly students as the university is two minutes up the road, I’ve eaten in cafes surrounding Northampton uni and found the students obnoxious and loud but this is definitely not the case in Woodstock and this seems to be the place for people to sit and relax rather than be shouting and screaming. I find it a highly relaxing place to sit for anything up to a couple of hours; the atmosphere inside is conductive to good conversation so I've always found it to be a good place to meet friends, it gets busy but as long as you're consuming drinks you're never rushed - baguettes are the perfect food to take your time over so this really is the place for a nice girly catch up. Next time you’re in Selly Oak I’d definitely recommend a visit to Woodstock for a spot of lunch, the food is fantastic and it won’t break even the most credit crunch affected bank! Prices have to be reasonable because this small independent cafe is located in the midst of chain restaurants and shops, it has prices on a par with Subway but the menu choice is so much more extensive and it feels like your eating cared-for food rather than mass produced takeaway Subs (as delicious as they are).
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