Nearly two decades ago on a bitterly cold winter's morning, I discovered that Stax makes excellent coffee, and warmed myself up well while enjoying some. I am glad to report that they do so still.
However, we deemed Stax to be erroneously entered in the Family Category under its current circumstances, and accordingly have recommended re-categorisation to Coffee Shop.
The tatty menus, like the premises, are badly in need of a re-furb! And although apparently offering plenty of choice, it became quickly apparent that this bore little relation to reality. From an interesting list of fish, we were told that they actually only had hake (which was not listed at all) so this is what my fish-loving companion ordered.
Alas, she forgot to state her preference, that it be grilled rather than fried, if possible. It arrived fried, heavily battered, and overly oily, accompanied by a very generous amount of equally greasy chips without any crisp or crunch.
Beneath the batter, the fish was decidedly unappetising and the green salad on the side neither fresh nor appealing. So we ordered a Greek salad to share. This took a long time to appear but was obviously freshly made and was enjoyable.
I am pleased to report I fared much better with my meal. I opted not to go with my usual order of steak, and although tempted by the breakfast offering, which is served all day, decided to branch out by ordering pizza. On a deep pan base, the filling of ham, bacon, mushrooms and olives was tasty and generous. I ordered "medium" but it was still the size of a dinner plate, too much for me for a single sitting. A doggy box was willingly provided for my leftovers!
Although a good selection of sweets was listed on the menu, just two were actually available, our ever faithful friend ice-cream and chocolate sauce and waffles and ice-cream. Having somewhat gorged ourselves in previous days as we travelled through the Eastern Highlands, we declined these and moved directly to the much anticipated coffees.
My companion chose the iced coffee and I, my usual filter. Both were excellent, and made with coffee grown in Zimbabwe, according to our waiter and to the proud sign on the wall. The iced coffee was enhanced by a generous portion of soft ice-cream and powdered chocolate on top. Our waiter was friendly, and served us well throughout.
Though the décor has not changed in many years, Stax for some time now has offered WiFi to diners. It was good to see their take-away section doing very brisk lunchtime trade, mainly in chicken and chips and pizza.
As a Coffee Shop, and with a more limited, re-worked menu along such lines, we reckoned Stax could fare better in 2013, featuring its trademark great coffees. But it must also focus some serious attention on the décor, on general maintenance, on waiters' attire, and on the presentation of the menu. They must also ensure that what is to be found there, is always available.