Caffe Nero, House of Fraser, Oxford St

Scores out of 5: Veggie friendly : 4/5; Vegan-options available: Limited; Value for money: 3.5/5, Quality of cooking : 3.5/5; Ambience : 3/5; Service: 3.5/5 ;Atmosphere: 2/5

Caffe Nero's good-sized outlet, set right at the back, on the ground floor of department-store House of Fraser, provides a welcome respite from the hubbub of Oxford St. The cafe resembles any in-store cafe in terms of ambience with a mixture of comfy sofas and minimalist chairs. However, unlike most in-store cafes which are light on veggie options, Caffe Nero offers a broad selection of soups, sandwiches, paninis and puddings which are clearly labelled as suitable for veggies. Hurrah! Finally, I've found a mainstream cafe that caters properly to veggies.

During our latest visit, we sampled the organic sun-dried tomato and basil soup - a large portion of deliciously tomato-ey, smooth yet thick soup that could be mopped up really nicely with the chunky pieces of bread they serve alongside. We also tried the yummy tomato, mozzarella and basil panini (apparently the top-selling one in their range) and the folded pizza-like tomato and mozzarella calzone wrap. The panini was studded inside with tiny slices of black olive which gave the sandwich additional depth and flavour. Both the panini and the calzone, were delicious and very filling, and really hit the spot, especially as they were served piping hot. The only slight draw-back I noticed at the end of our meal, was that the grill-toasters they used don't seem to be well-segregated and there is a small risk of cross-contamination from spills from the hot-sandwiches.

For pudding we had slices of chocolate fudge cake layered with chunky pieces of chocolate and melty-fudge... Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate... delicious and devilish and very, very more-ish. We also had a take-away caramel slice (which resembles millionaire's shortbread); to me it was a bit over-crumbly from being chilled too long, but was quite ok taste-wise. The white and dark chocolate truffle cheesecake was also in our take-away bag (I wonder who ordered it ??) - it was nice but not nearly as good as the chocolate cake. But, by then I had had enough chocolate to last me a month. I was sated. So I shouldn't really have tried any more!! Ah, the sacrifices I make in order to get pieces together for this blog eh?

To summarise, I'd certainly recommend Caffe Nero as a simple and easy pit-stop for those wanting a hearty, quick , reasonably healthy, veggie snack while on the move . Our visit to Caffe Nero's Oxford St branch was a very pleasant and sinful experience and one that I hardly expected in the cafe of a department store.

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