To call Brewbabu a tea shop, coffee shop, cafe or restaurant would be underselling this characterful venue, where the drink and food are something quite special.
Sitting in a prime position in Oundle town centre, opposite the war memorial, this is the perfect place for people watching, especially if you get the window seat. Billed as a “boutique brew bar”, it is impossible to appreciate what is on offer unless you step inside, choose a seat from the eclectic selection available, order a drink and something to eat, and take time to enjoy the atmosphere.
Dyna Graham began the business in 2014, with the aim of serving excellent tea and coffee in an excellent way, and she has certainly achieved this – and more. How did the name originate? “Brew” refers to the tea. “Babu” is an Indian term used as a sign of respect, and Dyna’s watchful eye ensures that everything served has earned the “babu” mark .
With a choice of 14 different teas, you may welcome advice from the knowledgable staff, who will guide you though the menu. The intriguing range includes English Breakfast, blended from Assam and Ceylon teas, a delicate white tea called Pai Mu Dan made from the two youngest leaves, and the gorgeously aromatic Masala Chai, laced with spices and herbs. All the blends are unique to Brewbabu, chosen by Dyna and blended by a tea master.
Each tea is brewed at its optimum temperature, with black teas brewed hotter than the more delicate white and green teas. The water is filtered, the pot is warmed, the tea leaves are carefully measured and then delivered to your table with an accompanying egg timer to ensure you don’t under- or over-brew. An infuser allows you to remove the leaves when ready and avoid an over-brewed second cup.
The coffee selection is as extensive, offering a range of roasts and styles. Whether your preference is for the dark roast El Salvador Gourmet, the lighter Kenya Peaberry, a macchiato or piccolo, there is a coffee that will hit the spot.
This may all sound like a formal way to enjoy a cuppa, but the friendly, attentive staff and quirky environment (including games on the tables) make the atmosphere relaxed and fun.
While the focus was originally tea and coffee, Brewbabu has earned a well-deserved reputation for excellent food, produced by chef Priska and team. Following the same ethos as the tea and coffee, the imaginative menu is of a high quality and beautifully presented. Start your day with a toasted bagel topped with hot Black Forest ham, or a horseshoe mushroom filled with egg, spinach and hollandaise sauce. Lunch specials change daily, but expect creative dishes such as pulled pork on flatbread with pomegranate, mint, sweet and sour cabbage, and cumin flavoured yoghurt. Tea is often included in the recipes, as the poaching liquid for salmon or added to a salad dressing. An abundance of homemade cakes, scones and tarts are also on offer, including gluten-free carrot cake and a delicious and moist tea loaf.
Evening dining can be enjoyed at either the monthly themed evenings run by supper club experts Devine Bettys, private dining or at special events put on to complement local events such as the Oundle Festival or food markets. Priska creates the menus to match each occasion, always imaginative and with a twist.
I urge you to make the effort to seek out Brewbabu and sample some of the most imaginative food and drink in the area.
By Anna Forgaard, north Northants & Rutland editor