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"Far, far away from the dreariness of the corporate froth"

A review of Same & Same But Different by Dan Griffin written on Saturday 13th of October 2012


Unlike a faceless corporation frequented by the general hoypoloy all honking for muffins and skinny-double-decaff mochafrappachinos, Same Same is a unique, charming and interesting, independently-run, multi-award-winning little bolt-hole with an atmosphere that makes one feel almost as though one is visiting the home of a distant relative one actually likes. It is warm and friendly and blends the rustic with the contemporary much as in the same way the chef has blended some parsnips with a few beans to make today's rather tasty soup.

A cafe throughout the day serving breakfasts, lunches and afternoon tea, Friday and Saturday evenings see the place transformed into an intimate and, dare I say it: romantic, almost Parisian-like tapas bar and restaurant evidently-absent of booze-fuelled, curry-guzzling chavs. As a particular aficionado of caffeine-related beverages I have long been confident that Same Same serves some of the best cups of coffee around. But it is not only this making it the popular haunt for students, professionals and visitors to the city alike, for the menu is excellent and the task of providing something just that little bit special is accomplished so very well indeed.

Each of the menus are well-balanced and tell it like it is: with dishes tending to escape being referred to as drizzled with anything, and rarely accompanied by a coulis or a jus. I believe that the majority of the food is locally-sourced, organic (particularly if it serves a purpose other than lining the pockets of champagne socialists), and often fair-trade, and green things are also available for anyone unappreciative of the fact that animals taste nice.

Personally, on a previous occasion I found the 'macaroni and cheese topped with roasted mushrooms and homemade hazelnut pesto' as pleasant as a hug, while more recently the 'Wiltshire cured ham, toasted Somerset brie and oven-roasted tomato' sandwich left me wondering whether Karma would later that afternoon drop a piano on my head. It didn't.

The tapas menu features such culinary delights as 'honey-roast root vegetables' and 'baked Moroccan meatballs' in a tomato sauce that isn't ketchup, and a 'chorizo glazed in cider with green beans and almonds' dish is as much of a delight as something else served with the cheese of a goat. Each of these, together with the items on the main, breakfast and sandwich menus, add-up to a feeding experience almost as enjoyable as receiving a rebate on one's tax.

Service-wise, I have always found it exceptional, but it is not the new El Bulli and therefore minor, one-off imperfections are inevitable... one example being the occasion, a year or so back, when a staff member caught a sneezing fit and threw my coffee across the floor. But that was funny and, like I said, these things are minor in light of the overall experience of spending time at Same Same; whether that time is spent dining with friends, having a meeting about world domination and the like, reading a book such as No stranger to the P45, or simply pondering the number forty-two.

Fiscally-speaking, Same Same is not the cheapest of establishments although neither is it expensive. It provides all-round value-for money whether you have a hangover of a morn and need a wonderfully-therapeutic cooked breakfast, or you wish to impress a romantic interest with your knowledge of places that don't leave you feeling a little like you've just been fed from a trough. Same Same can be found at the lower end of Bath's Bartlett Street, a small, cobbled and rather busy thoroughfare connecting George and Milsom Streets with their good friend, Alfred. Here, as well as enjoying coffee or tea you can eat breakfast and cake, sip booze and dine very finely indeed..

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