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Bluebasil Coffee Bar and Vintage Store, Leamington Spa

Love coffee? Love vintage? Oh, and how do award-winning gourmet brownies sound? I’ve a feeling this could become your new favourite indie hangout…it’s one of ours.

THE LOCATION

The Old Town in Leamington Spa. This impressive period shop front and dark hues attracted my eye while one day driving to the train station, as it’s just around the corner. You can park for free on Bath Place (parallel to Bath Street) and there’s also in the Pay & Display opposite Iceland car park.

 

THE LOWDOWN

Australian-born Nikki Taylor originally from Victoria, opened Bluebasil in May last year. It embraces two of her great passions: baking and vintage shopping. After spending many years travelling extensively around the world, Nikki settled in the UK with her British husband Mark where she’s lived for 20 years.

Before coming to Leamington their home was a rural farm near Shipston-on-Stour from where she started up her successful Bluebasil brownies mail order business  in 2010. But Nikki found she was always hankering to go for a coffee! She’s really fallen in love with Leamington – where you’re never far from a good café – and the town’s Georgian architecture.

But the secret is clearly out – you may have caught Blue Basil on Channel 5’s The Gadget Show back in May as an episode on mobile gaming devices was filmed there. The show’s resident games expert Jordan Webber also lives in Leamington.

 

THE VIBE

More of a coffee bar than café, it is also a vintage store. You can browse, drink coffee and eat cake all at the same time. Painted in Farrow and Ball Hague blue it has a laid-back eclectic and playful lived-in feel with greenery, funky vintage furniture, retro games in old suitcases and wooden puppets dangling from the ceiling. Quirky art is displayed on the walls and pretty much everything that you see can be brought.

Nikki sells retro home accessories, funky furniture, unusual vintage finds, books, cards and gifts. Due to requests from customers, she’s now extended this to a vintage clothes rack and very excitingly is due to be stocking vintage wedding dresses!

What’s really lovely is that, one of her regulars is a retired seamstress and they are now working together on repairing and fitting vintage clothes. In the New Year Nikki is hoping to create a separate space for vintage clothes by extending into the back of the store.

Slightly off the beaten track away from the town centre, Bluebasil is very buzzy particularly on weekends, at lunchtimes with workers and new mums during the day. Nikki has also found that due to the close proximity of the railway station, she has many professionals on business day trips popping in. It’s dog-friendly too, with pets receiving a warm welcome and a bowl of water.

 

SCOFF AND QUAFF

Glass cake stands laden with freshly home-baked cakes line the wooden counter – handmade at Bluebasil’s own bakery. These include Hummingbird cake, sponge cakes with flavours ranging from coffee and cardamom, lemon and lavender, carrot cake, vegan chocolate biscuit cake with ginger, sticky toffee pudding and the legendary Leamington ‘Lamingtons’ covered in a rich chocolate ganache and coconut – which as a local, Rhiannon could not resist with a black Americano.

It’s a proper coffee and cake place. Nikki likes to vary the bakes, and to keep customer favourites, with savouries and salads to take-away. In the morning you can opt from hot porridge and Saturday morning pastries.

The coffee here is Monmouth. Loose leaf teas are supplied by the Warwick-based Golden Monkey Tea Company. There’s a lovely big drinks menu on the wall, so no individual menus on tables needed.

Muddy’s Rhiannon and I popped in on a Saturday lunchtime and there were so many cakes to choose from including vegan and gluten free sweet treats, plus the award-winning brownies. For lunch I opted for a small bowl of lentil salad, a warm chocolate brownie and flat white – I’m no master baker but the gooey brownie was naughtily goooooooood! A big thumbs up from me.

 

BLUEBASIL BROWNIES

Nikki very kindly gave us a box of brownies each to take home. Featured in Vogue’s Hotlist, you can order one of five brownie collections in a range of flavours. Nikki celebrates the 10th anniversary of the business next year. One of the biggest compliments to the brand is knowing they’ve landed on the doorstep of Oscar-winning actors and top athletes. Perfect for a special vintage style tea-time treat sent with your own personal message gift boxes are tied up with string, wrapped in blue tissue on a bed of straw with a luggage gift tag (from £15.50). It’s fair to say they’ve nailed it. What I love is the combination of flavours – particularly the coffee and walnut – and they’re not overly sweet.

 

OUT & ABOUT

The Royal Pump Rooms, Leamington Spa, courtesy of Shakespeare’s England

Bluebasil is perfectly situated for a browse round The Royal Pump Rooms and Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum. If you’re feeling the need to walk off those cakes head to formal Victorian Park Jephson Gardens, a five-minute walk away, or Victoria Park, opposite. There you can let the kids off the reins, enjoy a riverside walk, Leam Boat Centre, watch the ducks or sit on a park bench and let life quietly pass you by.

Main gallery – Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum

 

THE MUDDY VERDICT:

Good for: Beautiful unique vintage finds, Monmouth Coffee and gourmet brownies. Friends looking for a place to meet for a coffee or light bite away from the main town drag. A special treat for kids and close to the Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum, parks and the River Leam for those up for a walk. Renowned too for its Leamington Lamingtons and other delicious home bakes.

Not for: The cakes are a temptation if you’re being good. Limited tables and chairs, so you might have to cosy up a little, especially with buggies. It’s on the roadside with no garden for younger kids to run amok in, but two parks are nearby.

Bluebasil is open Mon– Fri, 9am-5pm; Sat 10am – 5pm and closed on Sun.

64 Bath Street, Leamington Spa, CV31 3AE, Tel: 01926 882 687.

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