Back in October, Harry and I celebrated our three year anniversary. We chose to celebrate this day by enjoying the one thing we both love as deeply as we do one another. Brunch.
But where? There are so many cafes throughout Oxfordshire, all of them have their own quirks and specialities. None of them quite hold a candle to this one though. A café that effortlessly caters to all tastes, one that makes sustainability stylish. One with a playlist that will bring light to anyone’s day. Somewhere that has enough creativity and innovation in their drinks to please any millennial. The number one brunch spot in town- Handlebar Café.
Handlebar Café is 100% the top spot in Oxford. There is the old saying ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’. Well, Handlebar some how manages to be the master of all. It has the food, the coffee, ambience, their efforts for being environmental, the interior design and the unique edge.
It is tucked away on St Michaels street above the bike shop. It has a homely and ‘upcycled’ vibe. To me, the space seems like it wasn’t originally designed to be a café but was converted into one. Those are my favourite kind of venues, they are always much more interesting.
Large, south facing windows allow all the best light to come in. The ceilings and walls are decorated with old bikes and fairy lights.
They somehow manage to be a spot that can welcome the social bees and laptop workers all at once. I have yet to have a bad experience at handlebar. I have been in busy times and in quiet, on dates and on friendly catch ups, on first outings with new friends, with my grandma, with my sister as well as alone. Each time it was the perfect setting.
One of the things I love about Handlebar, that I haven’t seen anywhere else is that they do Oat as their house milk. I have always thought that if venues did that, more people would try it and make the switch (because we all know oat tastes better than cows). Those are the small and simple steps we could be making towards a much more green society.
Every time I visit I am stuck with the same dilemma- do I go for the Vegetarian Full English ‘Goodie Veggie’ or the coconut pancakes stack. It is a tough one, normally it stresses me out quite a bit actually, if I had more money I would order both.
Generally, the Goodie Veggie tends to win, just because I have more of a savoury tooth. However if there is anyone out there reading this that would like to order the Pancake Stack and do taste for tastes, will you go on a brunch date with me? We might be soul mates.
If you aren’t already sold and booking your table (or takeaway because we are locked down) then shall I mention the smoothies. This is always another big dilemma of mine, coffee or smoothie.
I think in this case, it is more socially acceptable to go for both, don’t you? My favourite is the Green Machine- avocado, lime, kale and apple juice. Saying that, it looks like the menu has changed and they have a very temping option called Hygge with banana, peanut butter, cacao nibs, pea milk and oats.
Just because we are in lockdown, that does not mean we can’t treat ourselves every now and then. When we do, we should do it with independent businesses. So picture this:
You wake up on your day off, the sky is blue with the winter sun beaming. You decide that today you aren’t going to spend the morning procrastinating on your phone eating the same old food you always prepare.
Instead, you remember reading, on Elle on Travel, that Handlebar Café is providing a Click and Collect service. You get on the website and order a Dirty Chai with some Avocado Toast- they do the fancy kind with feta, beetroot hummus and all sorts of other treats on top.
It’s ordered and you can already feel the excitement in your belly. Up you get and out the house, there is a spring in your step that you haven’t felt since summer. You’re wearing your big comfy fleece, wrapped up with a scarf but enjoying the cold air on your cheeks.
You pick up your food and head towards Broad Street to sit on one of the steps in front of the fancy buildings. That’s what I always do if I want to feel like I am travelling. Every sip of the dirty chai warms your mind. Is there anything better than a takeaway brunch on a chilled November day?
So I think we have established that Handlebar Café is the Number One brunch spot in Oxford. I have just discovered the recipe for their vegan coconut pancake stack is on the website, so if you excuse me, I am going to go make some pancakes. Happy Brunchin’!
Head to the Handlebar Cafes website to explore their menu and book your takeaway!
Comment down below what your favourite brunch option is and don’t forget to subscribe for more guides on Oxford guides, sustainable travel advise and Storytime.