Muddy Reviews: Black Goo, Thame
There’s only so much home-brewed coffee and eggs on toast one can get excited about. Sometimes the day calls for the real thing. Precisely why Muddy’s Rachel Mcloughlin toddled on down to Black Goo in Thame.
It was just over a year ago when I sat down with Black Goo co-founder Chris Leake and he told me all about his and wife Sacha’s plans to open a cafe and tap room in Thame (you’ll be aware, of course, of the current shops in Tring and Berkhamsted). However, just as the doors opened, they promptly shut again – thanks, Covid – and Thame’s coolest arrival this year was put on ice. Global pandemic not withstanding, as soon as cafes could open for takeaways, Black Goo’s window displays were packed full of cakes and pastries that kept the locals queuing and the excitement buzzing. So, a crowd of devotees was quick to follow – me being one – and once Black Goo could open fully this May, I dusted down the Muddy elasticated trousers, grabbed a friend who knows a thing or two about cake (she did apply for Bake Off this year, FYI) and headed off to enjoy an epic bottomless brunch.
Many Thamensians will have fond memories of sports shop Topsport which operated at the attractive double-fronted Victorian building that now holds Black Goo. It departed just a few years back and since then, other restaurants have come and gone, but Black Goo’s offering promises to make it a real success. The café is open for breakfast, brunch and afternoon tea and then, in the evening on Fridays and Saturdays, the café transforms into a tap room and bar selling craft beers, an broad wine selection, artisan gins together with grazing boards.
The ground floor is large and airy with an impressive window display showcasing the bakes of the day – perfect for a coffee with a friend or a working lunch. Upstairs, there is additional space, decked out with leopard print wallpaper, velvet chairs and charming views along the Buttermarket, should you wish to settle in.
And not altogether unsurprisingly, the place was packed. (Read: book beforehand if you want to guarantee a seat.) And the clientele matched the buzzy atmosphere: groups of friends, families, couples, all making the most of their new-found freedom and indoor seating.
SCOFF & QUAFF
While Black Goo has just introduced a bottomless afternoon tea and will soon be announcing an evening menu, we were here to sample the bottomless brunch. And the menu has all of the usual staples: namely, eggs in multiple formats, bubble and squeak, and a delicious plate of Halloumi & Shrooms. Pimp up any of the dishes with extras such as smoked crispy bacon, chorizo, and smoked salmon.
Too meaty? Actually, vegetarians and vegans are very well catered for here as are those who require gluten-free bread. I opted for Eggs Royale with a side of halloumi. The eggs were perfectly poached and actually looked appealing on the plate – as opposed to my usual watery efforts. The star baker sitting opposite me ordered Smashed Avocado (Black Goo’s most popular dish, I’ve been told) and likewise pimped away with crispy bacon. The portions were generous and served on old-school china plates, which made for a pretty presentation.
As our brunch was bottomless, we naturally made the most of the fresh Mimosas, although unusually for a brunch venue, G&Ts and craft beer were also on offer alongside the regular prosecco. And no judgment here: a gin at 11am is sometimes highly necessary. A bigger surprise was that after our meal, we realised the deal allowed us to pick any cake from the daily selection. I couldn’t manage any more food (I know, epic fail), so we sipped our mint tea at the table but got the cakes to go. Only once I was home did I see that my Rocky Road would feed my family for a week. Which, incidentally, it did.
OUT AND ABOUT
Oof. Need to work off those calories? Don’t sweat it; you can take a power walk along the seven-mile Phoenix Trail that runs from Thame to Princes Risborough. But if you’re looking for something less, erm… dedicated, the town boasts its own theatre/cinema, a thriving Tuesday market and a cracking little high street, packed full of indie shops and boutiques. Local artisan shop FROM is a particular Muddy favourite.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
GOOD FOR: Pretty much everyone. Perfect for post-Covid get-togethers for any age range, although it’s ideal for long overdue catch-ups with friends. The servings were more than generous and the top-ups plentiful.
NOT GOOD FOR: Those on a diet. The cake servings were vast. And while children are welcome downstairs, it would be difficult to get buggies and kiddie detritus up the narrow staircase to the first floor.
THE DAMAGE: £35pp for a Boozy Bottomless Brunch. A Boozy Afternoon Tea is £38pp. If you’re just there for a quick meal, brunch dishes start at around £5.
Black Goo, 14 Buttermarket, Thame, Oxfordshire. OX9 3EP; 01844 212818; blackgoocoffee.co.uk