When the higher powers at the university declared that enough was enough for Alcuin’s Cafe Barista, it’s fair to say that the voices of opposition were muted at best. The cafe definitely needed more than a lick of paint to transform it into an attractive eating and drinking area that students and staff alike would want to frequent.
Its replacement, The Kitchen at Alcuin, is a world away from its sterile predecessor. Alongside the flowery wallpaper and rustic furniture, The Kitchen had been decked out with a mix of comfortable sofas, as well as a jukebox, which create a homely feel. Whether or not the jukebox actually works is another question. A selection of books and campus media complete the overall look. You can tell that YUSU have gone with a indie, vintage style.
All of these factors combined create a pleasantly buzzing atmosphere, more laid back than in the Library Café, but less dead than in Cafe Barista, or The Edge in Wentworth. Arguably, The Kitchen would provide a better working environment than the library during the busier times in the day; its close proximity to the library is definitely an added bonus.
The Kitchen serves a selection of hot and cold sandwiches, alongside cake, biscuits and pastries and various ‘Barista style’ hot drinks. Tired students and fed up lecturers can rest assured that they can get their chocolatey fix or caffeine blast if the Library Cafe proves too busy. The hot chocolate Nouse sampled tasted delicious, providing a comforting, marshmallowy hug after a hard day of lectures. It was also a pleasant surprise to find that the prices were actually cheaper than those of equivalent drinks in either the Library Cafe or The Lounge in James College. The accompanying lemon and poppy seed muffin was equally as delightful.
An eating competition of sorts broke out, as Nouse attempted to sample as many culinary delights as possible (for reviewing purposes of course). A further highlight was the hot meatball sub. Tangy and filling, it provided good value for money.
Not everything was perfect however. Service was not exactly brisk, and Nouse had to watch meekly as its hot chocolate was whisked away to another customer. Being a brand new cafe with new staff, such teething issues are to be expected.
Sitting and soaking up the pleasant atmosphere of The Kitchen in Alcuin, it is wonderful to see how much of a difference a rebrand can make. Cafe Barista had been dull and lifeless, made all the more so by its comfortable replacement. There is little doubt that The Kitchen will bask in success. Its unique style and relaxing atmosphere will make it an absolute winner.