Zou Bisou is a cafe in the heart of restaurants in Leamington Spa. This is a place of tough competition. I’ve already written about the delights of Coffee Architects, Turtle Bay and La Coppola and enjoyed each one of them in different ways.
The first thing you notice about Zou Bisou is the decor. Its a lovely spacious and airy area with huge glass windows looking out on to a pedestrian area. There’s maybe 40 seats with cute little semicircular banquettes, comfy chairs and more traditional seating. It oozes either’relax and have fun’ or linger and read. The fun element is reinforced as you approach the counter. There’s a costume box next to a selfie seat, and a frozen yoghurt machine with plenty of sweets and sauces to decorate it. The decor includes some funky black white and red zebra stripe upholstery and some large painted teacups. And behind the counter is owner Steph. She’s very welcoming and full of ideas – hence the membership and activity nights. This is not your average cafe but ultimately it comes down to the food and drink.
We were here for breakfast and Steph came across to sit down with us to answer any questions and take our order. The menu has its fun quirks too. The large section of hot chocolates should meet most chocoholics needs. The chilli hot chocolate was fabulous – it did exactly what it said on the menu by infusing chilli with hot chocolate which gave a lovely bite. There is nothing worse than offering chilli and serving something nondescript. The chocolate itself is rich and slightly salty – delicious.
The pumpkin spice latte was also pronounced excellent but my benchmark is black coffee. If you get the basics right you then have permission to add as many flavours and spices as you like. My black Americano was one of the better ones I have had. I like a strong coffee and this ticked all the boxes. The coffee comes from Belgium (as does the cafe’s name) as a way of recalling Steph’s time living there – another nice touch.
If I have one small criticism it is that the bread in the bacon sandwich and the scrambled egg on toast was ordinary sliced bread with a flabby consistency. I appreciate that this is heaven for some people, exactly what a bacon sandwich should contain, but for me I prefer something a little more substantial. The quality of scrambled egg and bacon was good though.
I opted for the porridge and it was very good indeed. You can choose two accompaniments from honey, jam, dried fruit and nuts so I opted for the honey and nuts. I got a lovely big bowl of piping hot creamy porridge. There was just enough honey to sweeten the mixture and a fabulous mixture of walnuts, pecans and hazelnuts to give some crunch.
As if that isn’t enough, the cake selection by the counter looks fantastic and the chocolate brownie we ‘trialled’ passed the test with flying colours. If you still can’t get enough the takeout and delivery services are yet another way of getting your fix if you are short of time. The Deliveroo cyclist looked like he was getting plenty of exercise on a drizzly December day.
The final test is price and Zou Bisou is great value. My porridge and coffee came to less than £6 which I think is excellent for the location and quality. I dislike bland cafes and the coffee chains. I really believe that a cafe has to have its “thing” and Zou Bisou has lots of things to commend it. Most of all it has soul.