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There’s nothing I love more than stumbling on a new cool place, and Oxford cafe Brew is not even a week old. The guys, above, have taken a tiny square of a place and injected it with a fantastic, urban, relaxed vibe – perfect for coffee afficionados (they really know their beans), students and more curious shoppers willing to mooch for 10 minutes up past Jericho or St Giles to the funky little street of North Parade Avenue.
It’s not hard to open a cafe, much more tricky to create a good vibe and a unique look and feel. But I love this little place with its exotic copper coffee maker, vinyl record player (the person sitting nearest under obligation to change the record when necessary), and slick coffee-making accoutrements for sale.
While I’m at it I should also tell you about the rest of the street in North Parade Avenue. You may reading this in central Oxford with a slightly bored expression – like, duh! – but I didn’t even know about this stretch of wandery loveliness when I lived in Queen Street, Oxford and so I’m presuming (hoping!) there are lots more of you like me.
One of the main gripes with Oxford as a city is how few independent shopping areas there are. Jericho or Summertown are the default options, but I’d definitely add North Parade Avenue to that.
It’s not a destination in itself as a tourist, unless you come for the once a month farmer’s market– it’s literally one leafy street long – but if you’re in Jericho or St Giles (or around the corner at the Ashmolean) it’s only a little walk to this cute bunting-strewn independent street. If you’re looking for landmarks, it’s just round the corner from Gee‘s (see my review here), with a whole array of lovely little shops.
One of those shops is 2 North Parade, a newly opened produce shop that launched a few weeks back. Check out the look below.
Living in rural-ish Bucks, I’m a bit spoilt for fresh produce shops (in fact, Sandy Lane Farm down the road is one of the contributors for 2 North Parade) but in central Oxford it’s a different story – lots of delis, but not much in the way of definitively fresh seasonal local produce, with a bit of county hopping where necessary.
No 2 delivers free within a half mile so it’s very much a local store, and a beautifully presented one at that. It was previously a butcher’s so the white tiles remain (which I love) and it has an authentically foodie feel to it – the owners are really passionate about what they do, and have an ethos that would appeal to lots of Muddy readers, selling organic veg, Cow Nation milk (the most ethically right-on milk in the UK, as it allows each cow to live its full natural life) and English wine from Brightwell vineyard outside Wallingford. They also serve a mean coffee.