Oggy Oggy is quite firmly established in Exeter, having occupied a corner of the Guildhall Shopping Centre on Queen Street for what seems like donkey’s years. It has now moved to what had been a gift shop on the corner of Queen Street and Paul Street. The previous cafe was small, pokey and dark and this one is now cold, airy and clinical. I visited earlier in the week, not to eat initially but after falling foul of the terrible signage, I thought I would write a quick review of my experience as despite the initial trauma, I will certainly be going back.
I was originally thinking about the average price of a cup of tea and whether I should write about it as I was on my lunch at the time so I was desperate to think about anything else. My thoughts had been to wander through a few places, see how much they cost and then possibly grab a seat in a place and think my thoughts. I wandered through Costa (£2.00), the RAMM Cafe (£1.60) and I ended up in Oggy Oggy. I looked at the menu above the counter and it said £1.20! So I asked at the counter for a cup of tea to drink inside, and was told to take and seat and my order would be taken.
What I wasn’t told was Oggy Oggy has a separate menu for the table seats.
In the world of cafes, you tend to have one menu. The one menu will often have an ‘In’ price and an ‘Out’ price. Not in Oggy Oggy though, the menu’s are quite separate. I know however this is the old way of doing things, and to be fair I can see why they keep it this way.
I placed my order with a friendly waitress, sat down and only then realised that there was a table menu. The problem with this whole situation was that I had exactly £1.20 in my pocket. When the waitress came back with the tea, I had to confirm that the price on the board was the same as the one I was expecting to pay. Nope, to drink your tea inside you have to pay £1.65. So, without wanting to make a fuss I accepted I was going to have to pay the extra. No problem I have a card… card minimum is £5.
“So let us be objective about this” I thought, lets make the best out of a bad situation and write some sort of review.
The tea comes out in large pot, the mug is tiny and despite trying to pour the tea in such a way that you won’t cover the entire table with scalding hot water, you WILL fail. The mug wasn’t clean and it was tiny, did I say that? Luckily Oggy Oggy is generous with the milk which means you can really get your money’s worth if you’re willing to overlook the dirty mug and the unpourable tea-pot.
I went for the Pixie Pasty at £2.10 and Cheesy Chips at £2.50. There is no denying however that their pasties are delicious, the traditional pasty filling which is a meat and veg mixture was a taste to savour, not too salty and not overly greasy which meant they must use a lean mince of some sort. It was one of the best pasties I was likely to taste anywhere outside of Cornwall. The cheesy chips were, unusually mostly cheesey and less chippy. There was a LOT of cheese and after I had to let it cool down as it had obviously been in the microwave, it was quite edible. The chips were well cooked but as with a lot of cheesy chip dishes, the minute the cheese gets added and it gets zapped in the microwave it tends to turn in to a homogeneous greasy mass, which inevitably happened this time too. But not without taste, and despite the mushyness of the chips, I still felt satisfied.
The service in Oggy Oggy is completely without fault. One of the things I love about sitting in a cafe where you can see everything, is that you get to witness the interactions between other diners and the staff too. The ladies in there are friendly, accomodating and really polite and you can see why it attracts lots of the older generation. The food arrived in under 7 minutes and the tea arrived in under 2 minutes, although I would be interested to visit the cafe again on a Saturday or during a peak hour, I am quite sure this is not a place where you will have to wait long for your order.
Oggy Oggy is really an old person’s cafe; I was the youngest diner on a Thursday lunchtime, my beautiful brown locks of hair out of place in a sea of grey and white rinse bobs. The decor is safe to the point of spartan, and there is nothing here that you would not find in an old person’s living room. The interior decor is incredibly safe, a bit cheap but ill-fitting given the surroundings. The whole cafe feels cold and unhomely, with a feeling that it is still a gift shop, just with a few seats and a kitchen area installed. But the large windows is perfect for people watching, probably the best windows in Queen St for that very purpose.
So, my final thoughts. Aesthetically the cafe is ugly on the outside, occupying an ugly corner of one of the ugliest buildings in Exeter and the interior decor is not much better; the signage in the cafe itself gives no delineation as to the system they operate. You don’t pay the price on the board above the counter, you pay the price in the menu which is hidden away. No one actually tells you this.
But the positives are that the staff are friendly, polite and accommodating and the pasties are delicious. The prices are on the cheaper side of average and the tea is unpourable (yet good value) without a special technique that I am terrible at, and ultimately the lower score is brought down by the whole decor, outside building and the lack of signage.