Posts Tagged ‘Tunsgate’

Love Brownies Guildford revisited

November 22, 2019

Last week I passed Love Brownies Guildford in Tunsgate, splashed across the window, Now Open, only they were not open.

An example of Guildford surrealism, Alice down the rabbit hole.

Tuesday Love Brownies Guildford were rumoured to be open.

Were they? Er yes and no.

A handful of people there in the afternoon, but not open. Open at five, but only to the media.

If tried to attend the media event, ordered out by Yorkshire man. How to alienate the locals, a classic example of how not to a launch event.

The success of their exclusive media event not a mention in the media.

Friday try again.

Yes were open, only one customer, three staff.

Find clean table. One table dirty, another piled with dirty dishes.

I settle for a stool by a shelf in an alcove. Furthest away from the door. The tables were conveniently arranged by the door, a blast of cold air every time the door opened. The tables were jammed far too close together, difficult for staff and customers to pass once it started to fill up.

I asked of the brownies. No one knew what was the difference, chocolate, double chocolate or triple chocolate.

But a moot point, as only had double chocolate.

Cappuccino ordered. What size? There is only one size, the correct size.

A very long wait before order derived, and this is an empty cafe, though it was slowly filling.

I moved away from the dirty table where I had first sat, and sat by a shelf. Banged my hand on the overhang. I banged my head again when I stood up.

Eventually a cappuccino arrived, all froth and foam with chocolate dumped on top. A brownie the size of a postage stamp.

I take the cappuccino back, say no chocolate, query the size of the brownie. It was a fraction of those on show.

I was told these were vegan, and yet I had pointed to one when ordered.

Tiny samples of a vegan brownies were on display, smaller than a sugar cube. These were ok. Unusual as vegan cakes are usually dire.

I could not say the same of what was brought to my little alcove. Very cloying. Nowhere the quality I have had at Coffee Lab when they were supplied by an independent bakery.

I questioned the cappuccino. All froth and foam, too hot, all the mistakes one could make.

It looked disgusting and was not good.

No surprise, cheap catering supply coffee from Caffe Society, clueless on coffee those making the the coffee. Not to be confused with Society Café a coffee shop serving excellent coffee.

When I queried the coffee, the usual defence for all ills, we have been trained.

An SCA qualified trainer? I doubt.

Ambience pleasant, bright and airy.

Two guys serving were pleasant.

For how long will they be giving away free brownies for birthday? Or will these free brownies be the sugar cube size samples?

Once again makes the point, cannot train baristas. Not that I would call them baristas, as to do so would be to insult baristas.

I asked of the cost of the espresso machine. Refused to say. I guessed less than £5,000. I hit the ballpark.

A good machine will be in excess of £10,000.

The size of a postage stamp brownie, anywhere else would be a sample, was in a little cardboard box.

At a time when we are trying to cut waste, reduce packaging, Love Brownies Guildford serving postage size brownies in a little cardboard box. And we thought we had a problem with supermarkets.

The brownies are shipped from Yorkshire.

Today I talked to someone who bakes quality cakes, including brownies. They said not economical to ship from Yorkshire, not unless using low quality cheap ingredients.

Though on the other hand if serving postage stamp size portions at at least pushes up the margins.

Award winning brownies?

The award, Great Taste Award, a meaningless award that gets slapped on anything and everything, for which pay to obtain. No guarantee of quality.

To charge £5-50 for cheap low quality undrinkable catering supply coffee and a mediocre postage stamp size brownie is blatant rip off.

On display a glossy Surrey magazine. Not worth reading. Not sure if display or for sale.

Nothing of quality for example Cereal, Ambrosia, Drift, as find in quality coffee shops.

In a addition to mediocre brownies and poor quality coffee, what could only be described as overpriced gifts, make the whole operation look like a poundland or poor man’s version of Caracoli.

This type of tourist tat may sell to American tourists in a tea shop in Ilkley,  I cannot see it selling to locals in Guildford.

If wish to buy honey, local produce, try the farmers market in the High Street or the excellent cheese shop Partisan  in Chapel Street.

Only half a dozen tables, which is not viable.

In Athens ice cold water brought to the table. It is called service.

In Love Brownies Guildford had to ask.

What beggars belief is fools and their money easily parted have paid £50,000 for a franchise, for what is in essence a cafe serving poor quality coffee with a very limited choice of cakes.

I am reminded of the Monty Python sketch, spam, spam or spam.

In Love Brownies Guildford, a choice of brownies or brownies or brownies.

They could have simply opened a cafe serving mediocre coffee and sourced cakes locally for a fraction of the price.

Or save on the franchise, invested in decent equipment, hired a skilled head barista, sourced quality coffee, and still had change to spare.

These days on a hiding to nothing opening a coffee shop serving poor quality coffee, as have the tax dodging corporate chains serving bad coffee. And in a town saturated with coffee shops, does nothing to add to the coffee scene.

In Guildford, if love coffee, there is Krema, ironically only a few doors away from Love Brownies Guildford. Quality coffee, a choice of cakes not restricted to brownies, and the brownies if you want brownies are at least a decent size, not a postage stamp size.

After my visit, the coffee left untouched apart from a sip, a decent coffee in Krema.

Love Brownies Guildford located in Tunsgate opposite Tunsgate Quarter zombie shopping centre.

Love Brownies Guildford

November 19, 2019

Friday last week across the window of Love Brownies Guildford in big letters Now Open. Only they were not open.

Welcome to Guildford surrealism.

Rumour was open Tuesday.

Late into Guildford, nevertheless stopped and had an excellent cappuccino off FCB kiosk followed by excellent late lunch at Bamboo Shoots in Jeffries Passage.

Passed by Love Brownies Guildford late afternoon, my only reason for visiting Guildford. They appeared to be open, maybe.

No, not open, open for media at five.

Now a little odd, open only for invited guests, not a good way to get your coffee shop known.

At the very least would have thought would have offered a coffee, but no.

Five actually quite late considering the weather, most people want to be home.

I suggested if wished media coverage put out a well written press release to Surrey Advertiser and lazy scribblers will regurgitate.

Yorkshire man: I will talk to our marketing department.

Marketing department. WTF, it’s a coffee shop. He also fed me bullshit about branding.

Once people start talking about marketing and branding, they have completely lost the plot.

Nothing about the coffee, single origin, where sourced from.

Clueless too on use of social media, no mention new coffee shop opening in Guildford.

Cappuccino in Krema, gone five, maybe just time to pop in Love Brownies Guildford before the shops close.

I walked in, lady by the door, she says says yes, please come in, your are very welcome. Explains to me she did their design, and that the businesses started selling gifts on-line and expanded from there.

Good design is all well and good, but at the end of the day, it is all about the coffee.

I ask of the coffee, I am pointed to the coffee counter and told ask there.

I ask of their coffee.

Caffe Society who I have never heard of. I check later, a supplier of cheap catering supply coffee, thus no interest in quality coffee.

These days no excuse whatsoever to source poor quality coffee. In Yorkshire I am aware of Dark Woods, North Star, The Blending Room, to name but three.

Local to Guildford, in Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, London, there are many excellent coffee roasteries, far too many to name.

I learn Love Brownies a chain of nine coffee shops based in Yorkshire, by the end of the year 19, or maybe that was the target for a year.

The franchise scam. Minimum investment of £50,000, £25,000 up front. Fools and their money easily parted.

The woman I was talking to knew nothing of Brew & Brownie Bake Shop in York. Very odd when a very popular coffee shop in York with emphasis on brownies, especially when Love Brownies based in Yorkshire and ship their brownies down to Guildford every day from Yorkshire.

The set up is like a watered down version of Caracoli, coffee shop cum deli with overpriced gifts, nether one nor the other. One reason Carocoli went bust.

The woman I talked had no idea of Caracoli.

Surely you do your homework?

I ordered a cappuccino. Asked what size, Er, wrong question, the correct size. I wandered around to find it was waiting for me.

It then turned very unpleasant. The woman who I had been talking to said I could not have it just as the young guy who had made it handed it to me. All very embarrassing for the young guy who was trying to hand it to me.

I felt sorry for the guy. Allegedly trained and once again made the point cannot train baristas. It was all froth and foam, half an inch above the cup carpet bombed with chocolate. The only time I have seen a cappuccino this bad was at a dreadful coffee shop in Lincoln, The Old Mouse House Cheese Shop & Coffee Bar at the top of Steep hill.

No, no, no, this is not how you make and serve a cappuccino.

If this young guy wishes to learn how to brew coffee, then please go and work in a decent coffee shop.

I never did get to try the coffee, but from appearance, it was undrinkable, as at that point Yorkshire man ordered me out, reiterating it was a private function and my presence was not welcome.

Welcome to Yorkshire hospitality. How to win friends and influence people.

Yorkshire man not doing the fools and their money easily parted for the franchise any favours by almost frogmarching out a potential customer.

Any new coffee shop would welcome people to their launch event, as word of mouth these days essential.

Contrast with the launch of Blue Bear Bookshop in Farnham on Saturday. Everyone very welcoming, did their best to answer questions. But then they were not a franchise scam, it was a lady passionate about books, who always wanted to own a bookshop, and serving excellent coffee and local cakes.

I never did get to try the coffee, but from what I saw I would hazard a guess undrinkable coffee. And the rows of syrups indicated undrinkable coffee.

In which case what is the point? If want disgusting undrinkable coffee we have the tax-dodging corporate coffee chains.

Today if opening a coffee shop, have to be passionate about coffee, know about coffee, and serve quality coffee.

And for those who appreciate quality coffee, we already have in Tunsgate, Krema. And I cannot see any of their clientele drinking bad coffee.

Love Brownies Guildford located in Tunsgate opposite the Tunsgate Quarter zombie shopping centre.

Tunsgate Quarter zombie shopping centre

June 21, 2019

Boarded-up shops, devoid of people, its only use as a short cut from High Street to Castle Street, especially when raining. How long before it files for administration?

And with an unwanted shopping centre being built in Farnham that will destroy the character of a  small market town, no lessons learnt.

Appalling meal at Pho Guildford

November 16, 2018

Pho is a fake Vietnamese street food restaurant in Tunsgate.

I went twice when Pho Guildford first opened in the summer when half price, then returned a few weeks later.

Each time, the food had deteriorated from previous visit, never saw the same staff twice, poor service their trademark.

Today I met up with a friend. As Bamboo Shoots closed, we went to Pho.

Pho was packed, very noisy, not pleasant, but luckily we got a table by the window. On previous visits, apart from the day it opened, empty.

Loud music, lots of noise, does not make for a pleasant environment to relax and eat, but Pho clueless and do not understand this or care.

Menu came promptly, not the food we ordered. A long wait, a very long wait, easily half an hour or more. Most of the people had left before our food came. A man sitting next to us was served promptly, even though he arrived some time after us.

When the food finally came it was cold. It was fairly obvious, cooked, left, before delivered to the table. The bowls were stone cold.

Prawns on a bed of bean shoots and noodles. Some of the prawns lukewarm, others cold as though out of a fridge. Bean shoots warm. Noodles cold as though out of a fridge.

Disgusting that food can be served like this.

We requested something else.

Only I ate as it was getting late. It was not good either.

Char-grilled pork, only it bore no resemblance to what have had before either in Pho Guildford or Pho Reading last week. Previously thin slices of pork, these were chunks of pork. Previously crunchy white rice slightly aromatic. This was neither and had had something unpleasant poured over half the rice.

I left half eaten.

When we complained, a tall black guy came to the table. Whether manager or serving staff he did not say.

He apologised and offered something else and said we did not have to pay. I would not have paid anyway.

He then asked did we live in Guildford and said he would bring us something.

When he returned we assumed it was to give us a voucher to eat again another day.

No, it was a book of special offers, available in every participating venue.

Could we use to to pay the bill? No. Only for their Christmas dinner.

When something is this bad, and it was bad. The meal should have been free with an invite to return at their expense.

But Pho is a chain, they do not care, poor service is their trademark.

Although in Tunsgate, Pho is part of Tunsgate Quarter, the latest Guildford White Elephant. A sterile artificial shopping centre, boarded-up units, crap chains like Cosy Club a fake 1930s bar, so fake a parody of fake and devoid of people. The only use of Tunsgate Quarter to provide a useful short cut when raining.

Cappuccino in Cosy Club

July 6, 2018

Cosy Club, not a place I would normally be seen dead in, a fake 1930s bar, a corporate chain. But I was curious they are sourcing coffee from Clifton Coffee.

How to get in? From the High Street, into Tunsgate, then into Tunsgate Quarter.

Tunsgate Quarter, a new shopping centre, artificial and sterile, boarded-up units, a few corporate chains, devoid of people. The glass ceiling turns it into a greenhouse, hotter than the street. The only positive, provides a useful short cut.

Nothing on this level other than a Nespresso stall. Did I want a Nespresso? No, I like coffee.

Down a spiral staircase. Again nothing. I find myself walking back into the High Street to find Cosy Club. Only you enter and climb the stairs.

I am surprised how large. Did I wish to be taken to a table? No, I will have a look around.

I decide on a seat by an open door leading onto a balcony, fresh air.

Cosy Club far worse than I expected, so fake it is a parody of fake.

At the bar, beers from industrial chemical factories. Only one real ale on a hand pump. No craft beers.

Has nothing been learnt from Wetherspoon? Apparently not.

I order a cappuccino. It is covered in chocolate. I send it back. A long wait for a second cappuccino, too large a mug, scalding hot, and yes, undrinkable.

The coffee is Clifton Village blend. Clifton are doing themselves no favours, not if they care for their reputation.

Do I wish to eat, do I wish to see the food menu? I decline.

It is then to Krema, where I have an excellent cold brew coffee.

Why is Guildford Tourist Information sending out tweets promoting Cosy Club? To date, I think nine, so many I am losing count. Yet another one today. Why did they tweet as a place for coffee? Is not the role of a tourist office to promote what is of interest locally, not as the PR office of a corporate chain? Is this an appropriate use of public money?

All the more ironic when on 4 July the launch of a month to celebrate independent businesses in Guildford.

Afternoon in Guildford

June 22, 2018

Strange weather, starts cool, turns hot.

As I walk up North Street by the market, arrogant idiot parks in No Parking to do his shopping on the market. When it is pointed out No Parking, he ask where am I to park when shopping? Maybe car park as everyone else.

Lunch at Bamboo Shoots, honey crunch chicken with brown rice, then back to market, but too late, strawberries gone. From another stall, two boxes of strawberries, two pineapples, £3-00.

Work on Tunsgate progressing backwards, now digging up that previously laid.

In Krema, excellent cold brew coffee. I resist the temptation to have another.

I give one box of strawberries, one pineapple, to Krema.

Walking down to The Keep, I see the work on Tunsgate is extending half way down the road.

In The Keep, Hidden Curiosities Gin have set up a gin pop up shop and free tasting.

I am no fan of gin, cannot stand the smell let alone the taste, but was curious, this was craft gin.

For some perverse reason, gin has become the in drink.

Did I wish to try?

The aroma was quite pleasant, not at all like that normally associated with gin. To drink, like drinking firewater, lacking the maturity of a good brandy. I could see why it is usually drunk diluted. It also has potential for cocktails with cold brew coffee.

Pho Vietnamese street food restaurant

June 15, 2018

A pleasant warm and sunny afternoon in Guildford, warmer than expected.

You must try Pho in Tunsgate I was told as I passed through the market in North Street on my way for lunch at Bamboo Shoots in Jeffries Passage. Pho? A new Vietnamese restaurant in Tunsgate, today food half price, try it and report back.

I checked it out. Not half price, free, but they had problems, please come back at five o’clock, we will reopen half price.

Lunch at Bamboo Shoots in Jeffries Passage.

It was then to Krema where I spent the rest of the afternoon. Excellent cold brew coffee. I was surprised when shown how brewed, in essence a central metal filter in a jug where course ground coffee is left for 24 hours in cold water

Krema has only been open a few weeks and already very popular.

On leaving Krema, I decided to try Pho, surprisingly only a short queue. Not long to wait.

Looking at the menu, and having looked earlier, nothing I realy fancied, but found something.

A bottle of cold water brought to the table.

I have no idea what Vietnamese food is like, this is not a Vietnamese restaurant, it is a chain. Maybe in the kitchen.

Credit where credit due, and I hate to praise a chain, the food was good. And what I saw brought to adjacent tables also looked good. They must have good chefs.

No long queue formed outside. Maybe few knew half price, though these days of social media, usually spreads rapidly.

Tunsgate

August 11, 2017

Looked in on Ben’s Records. Something I have not done since last year.

To reach Ben’s from the High Street, meant I had to walk through Tunsgate as Ben’s Records is at the end.

I was shocked by the state of Tunsgate. Work started then halted when it was discovered gas and water pipes too close to the surface. In the meantime small businesses in Tunsgate see a loss of trade. And did the street require work, er no.

Did no one conduct a survey before work commenced? Seemingly not.

The Tunsgate Shopping Centre is an eyesore, derelict now for years. It should be demolished.

Like all local councils, Guildford likes to indulge in vanity projects, whilst at the same time denying vital services money.

Resurfacing the High Street last year cost £1 million. Yes, the work was necessary, and the contractors carried out an excellent job, but why then allow traffic through after four o’clock, in what is a pedestrianised street?

The Village, at £1 million, plus a further £90,000 for summer relaunch, is an appalling waste of public money, badly managed, and that is only the costs we know about. The concept good, but ill-thought through, badly managed and the wrong location. It was known the location was wrong, as the farmers market collapsed when it was moved to this location last year when the High Street was dug up.

The Village is always deserted. Only the last couple of weeks has it been busy, and busy a relative term, with activities for kids during the school holidays

Dumping sand outside the Electric Theatre is another example of waste of money. And that is likely to empty The Village of kids.

Too many local councils have no idea of what constitutes good town centre planning or how local economies function. It was on that basis that In Business last night was a breath of fresh air, local communities rebuilding their local economies. Bottom up works, top down does not, and yet local councils are still in bed with big business and greedy developers who are destroying our town centres. One only has to look at Aldershot or Lincoln to see how bad town planning and greed is destroying once viable town centres.

In Lincoln they are to repave part of the High Street which has been recently pedestrianised at a cost of £800,000 which means it will probably cost £1 million. But it fails to address the problem of motorised vehicles allowed through a pedestrianised town centre before 10 am and after 4 pm and any times between time due too lack of of enforcement, or more accurately the lack of will to enforce.

A pedestrianised area should be just that, exclusive for pedestrians, emergency vehicles only. Deliveries via hand cart or trolley from lorry bays on the outskirts. The norm in Europe.

It does not get much worse than Aldershot. Decades of bad town centre planning, net result, empty boarded up shops. When even the pound shops pull out, you know the end is nigh.