Old Town has lived up to it’s name for the past few decades. However this once sleepy and tired town has transformed into one of Swindon’s trendiest areas. It is now a popular hang-out spot for locals of all ages and there are cafes and delis popping up on every corner. Wood Street is a particular hot-spot. This tucked away street is lined with everything from independent cafes, stylish restaurants, hairdressers, a pharmacy, a specialist liquor shop and even a hardware store.
Balula’s Delicatessen and Coffee Lounge opened Christmas 2010 and grew rapidly in popularity. It is a real joy to have a store selling fresh, organic and artisanal produce – a modern take and fusion of the dying-out high street bakeries and grocers. Balula’s sells award-winning produce, from farmhouse cheeses, a variety of quality olives and charcuterie and seasonal fruit and veg, to speciality artisan breads, patisserie and Belgian chocolates.
My first trip to Balula’s was for a late breakfast. For months, my mum had been waxing lyrical about their almond croissant and I just had to try them. To my dismay, we arrived too late and their daily batch of croissants had already been snapped up by the more punctual crowd. Feeling rather disappointed, I pondered the other options and settled on an egg custard tart, which turned out to be sensational – a light and flaky pastry case filled with creamy, yellow custard and boasting a perfect shiny and slightly charred top.
To accompany your breakfast bite, Balula’s offer an impressive variety of teas, courtesy of Tea Pigs, as well as coffee and juices. I tried a light and refreshing Chinese ‘mao feng green tea’, but I highly recommend the spiced red tea for the coming winter, or warm your toes with the chilli chai blend.
The coffees are all made with food quality roasted beans. The Cappuccino is topped with a creamy foam, stained an inviting caramel colour from the coffee beneath.
Other than their scrumptious pastries and cakes, Balula’s menu extends to sandwiches, made-to-order on freshly baked bread. Their sandwiches are not the same old ham and lettuce or cheese and pickle. The chefs have thought-up exciting combinations, such as brie, crispy bacon, fresh tomato and spicy jam on soft white bread. All sandwiches come with a side of tangy gherkins and a little bowl of crisps.
This cafe may be a little pricey, but you can rely on being served great food in a friendly, homely atmosphere and treat yourself to a few luxury items for dinner on your way out.
9 Wood Street
T: +44 (0)1793 643000
Open daily 10:00-17:00, cafe open 12:00-14:30