Archive for the ‘Outside London’ Category

Wilkinson’s Coffee Shop, Bakewell, Derbyshire

October 24, 2010

Visited: Sunday 24th October 2010

Interior: In need of a cup of tea before catching a bus to sheffield, my companions and I attempted to get a table in the ‘Traditional Bakewell Pudding Shop’ only to be met by some indifferent staff who simply said that it would be a wait, despite the presence of several empty tables. Luckily, I’d noticed that the very untwee Wilkinson’s across the road was open. A very nice, simple caff (echoing its ironmongery namesake) with ‘order and pay at the counter’ service highly appropriate to a deadline set by an hourly bus departure. Service was nevertheless friendly (although I had to carry our tray of beverages to our table, reminding me why hospitality was never meant to be my trade). And unlike the cramped tearooms which fill the rest of the town, there was plenty of room for my luggage.

Food: My companions and I shared buttered toast and teacake (well I ate the teacake). Both were standard catering pack fare but very welcome for all that. Actually the teacake was lovely and tea amazingly strong. My companion’s coffee looked very nice too. And all was very cheap indeed. I highly recommend for anyone wanting to replenish hungry mouths without waiting half an hour for a seat!


The bean and bag cafe, Bakewell, Derbyshire

October 24, 2010

Visited: Sunday 24th October 2010

Interior: Bakewell is the kind of place that’s full of twee tea rooms, of which this is a classic example, although the menu was proper breakfasty, as you might expect in a market town full of people wearing gore-tex and carrying leki poles. It actually wasn’t really all that cute, without having the pleasures of a stripped-down caff. Like most of its ilk, tables were crammed together and staff somewhat pre-occupied. But it was a pleasant enough place to spend half an hour.

Food: I had a cheese and tomato toasty that was perfectly edible without giving any sign that the ‘local food’ revolution had reached Bakewell. Bright orange ‘farmhouse cheese’ (I wonder which body certifies the term ‘farmhouse’, non-descript tomato and standard supermarket bread was at least given the traditional accompaniment of a teaspoonsful of coleslaw, a lettuce leaf and some ready salted crisps. Decaff coffee on the other hand was rather good.

Pleasant Cafe, Mount Pleasant, Tunbridge Wells

May 24, 2010

Visited: Sunday 23rd May 2010

I’ll have to update my taxonomy of types as this is a real 1970s classic – vinyl ’tiled’ flooring, wipe-clean (but not decorative) tiles, open counter, fluorescent lighting. A few plants and wooden tables and chairs gave it a more refined feel, suitable to its location. I was pretty impressed that three caffs were open next to the station on a Sunday lunchtime, and this was certainly the most greasy-spoonlike, and thoroughly charming for it.

I had a cheese toasty, made without Breville (ie toast, cheese and microwave) and very nice it was too. Tea was a bit disappointing, as it was made in a little metal pot, and didn’t have much substance to it, but Tunbridge Wells is the kind of place where even the greasies use individual teapots rather than having a great big one  pouring orange headblaster.

Minster Deli, Low Petergate, York

November 23, 2009

Visited: Saturday 21st November 2009

Interior: Deli is perhaps something of a misnomer, as the atmosphere was more ‘bakers’ oven’ than ‘pastrami on rye’. However, the standard shopping-precinct interior had a nice warming buzz on a busy Saturday afternoon and waitresses were friendly and helpful.

Food: A bowl of french onion soup probably hadn’t been lovingly crafted from scratch, but was warm, welcome and swiftly served with a generous helping of baguette. The best that can be said about the decaff instant coffee which came with it is that it was hot liquid!

Saltaire Village Bakery, Saltaire, West Yorkshire

April 25, 2009

Visited: Monday 13th April 2009

Interior: Upstairs the Village Bakery is exactly what you’d expect: trays of pasties, buns and loaves of bread, plus a couple of cramped tables. Downstairs it is a pleasant, naturally-lit tea room of the sort one finds in attractive places like Saltaire:  twee by caff standards but far fewer patchwork elephants and floral tea cosies than one would find in Berkshire.

Food: Breakfasts all round, including a full English plus black pudding for me. The meat all seemed very high quality, there was plenty of toast and butter and the beans did not taste of the cash and carry variety. My one gripe is that, in the heart of Yorkshire, tea was in a measly undersized mug with no top-ups. I wouldn’t have minded getting more – although being a tea room as well as a caff, it wasn’t cheap – but there was no-one around to order it from. Overall it was the kind of breakfast that feels like you need a lie-down afterwards to recover. Which is a good thing.

Favoloso, Carlisle Road, Eastbourne

August 5, 2008

Visited: Sunday 3rd August 2008

Fantastically 1950s-style caff, with food from the 1970s unfortunately

Interior: Real old fashioned seaside coffee bar and restaurant. A bit like a mixture between an art deco nightclub and a workplace canteen, but loads of atmosphere. Was serving at 5.30 and open until 10pm.

Food: Well, you wouldn’t come here for the food unless you loved ice cream sundaes, of which there was a choice of at least 40. My Lasagne was the old fashioned dish of hot cheese that has become traditional in office canteens with a classic caff ‘salad’ (couple of pieces of cucumber, half a tomato and some shredded iceberg lettuce, but you don’t go to caffs for health food). Was nice that they served wine and beer.

Cafe Eleven, Burleigh Street, Cambridge

July 15, 2008

Handy and pleasant caff within the inevitable pedestrianised zone

Visited Sunday 13th July 2008

Decor: Usual metal tables, tiled floor type of affair, but pleasant nevertheless.

Food: I had a really good cheese toasty – ordinary supermarket brown bread, but was actually really nice. Mug of tea also very nice and the whole thing wasn’t too much of a ripoff for central Cambridge.

The somewhat intimidating trio of women running this caff (one of whom, much admired by my companion, had a story to tell about ingrown toenails) nevertheless proferred a welcome that made us feel very comfortable. In short, recommended.

Bad Cafe: Antonio’s Cafe, Piccadilly, Manchester

April 29, 2007

Visited: Monday 23rd April 2007

Handy for the station, but that’s about it. Welcome was far from friendly and my pampered southern-ness couldn’t quite cope with the smoke. And the loo was out of order (and looked like it had been for years – or rather that the sign was a permanent fixture to prevent people abusing the facilities, which obviously includes those who’ve just filled themselves with the caff’s tea.)

Interior: Nothing special – some nice mirroring, and padded seats, but standard plastic tables. Greenery was a good touch

Food: A big disappointment. I had tea, a fried egg, toast (white only), tomatoes and mushrooms and only the toast was made fresh. The tomatoes were actually okay – a whole tomato quartered and while it had been sitting around a while, it was nice and juicy.