Lets find a Cafe (or tearoom)

Lets find a Cafe (or tearoom)

Locations of reviewed cafes

I

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Young at Heart. (Yaxham Waters Farm Cafe, Yaxham)

 Yaxham Waters Farm Cafe,
Yaxham,
Opening times Sun-Thur 7-7,
Fri-Sat 7-10
Recommended
Normally you want everything to go to plan, and this ride to Yaxham Waters Farm Cafe went like clockwork. Trouble is when writing a blog you really want something to happen on the ride worth writing about but there were no punctures, fallings off or getting lost so myself, and today's guest Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please), rolled into Yaxham right on schedule.


Outside main entrance of Yaxham Waters Farm Cafe
The first thing that struck me about Yaxham Waters Farm Cafe was the two outdoor seating areas, one front and one back. The large outdoor seating area at the back had the added bonus of overlooking a small pond. I assumed that the pond wasn't the whole of Yaxham waters as that would be rather disappointing. 

As it was again rather chilly we decide to sit inside. Although no spring chickens ourselves we noticed that we brought the average age of the Wednesday lunchtime customers down by a considerable margin. This was particularly surprising as apparently on a Thursday Yaxham Waters Farm Cafe offer a generous lunchtime OAP discount. I expect it is zimmer room only on those days. Maybe the old folk that were here today had got confused and come a day early.

The cake selection was good, with a choice of 3 sponges as well as scones and, although not strictly a cake, festive mince pies. All looked very nice so they got a good effective cake selection (ECS) rating. For the second cafe running there was a choice of hot chocolate (delux or Italianio) I went for the Italianio and coffee cake and Andrew a cappuccino and lemon cake. The hot chocolate was excellent and I look forward to trying the delux on a future visit. Andrew thought the quality of the coffee was very good but felt his cappuccino was a little weak and could have doubled up as a latte. However he is notoriously hard to please and still scored it a 7 (which is good for him). Both our cakes were very nice but could have been a touch moister for a really top mark.

All in all a very good ride and cafe stop. I have already put Thursday May 22nd 2030 in my diary to come for a visit so I can make use of the Yaxham Waters Farm Cafe generous Thursday lunchtime OAP discount. I was relieved to see I didn't have anything else already planned on that day.

Update:
I have been back twice since my first visit, the first time in 2014 when looking for Art  and again on 25th February 2016.

On this occasion I came with cycling guest Big George as our target cafe we had planned to go to was shut. Fortunately the one super hero special power (SHSP) I have, as the Cake Crusader, is to be able to identify where the nearest good cafe is from wherever I am (as long as it's in the Norfolk or North Suffolk Area). Standing in the car park by the cafe closed sign I immediately used my SHSP and we set off to Yaxham Waters.

Since my last visit it had a had a large and light extension built but despite the extra space it was still very full. I realised that today was a Thursday and as such the generous lunchtime OAP discount was in operation which may have explained the large clientèle. Sadly it will still be many years before I can make use of generous lunchtime OAP discount but I'm sure my day will come.

Cakes and drinks were good and very much in line with my previous visits.
Drink at cake on latest visit 
I was pleased that my SHSP had proved to be working well and had enable us to have good alternative stop. Sadly Marvel have not yet seen fit to make a film based on them, presumably as they are struggling to find a credible actor to play my part.

Scores based on 3 visits
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
7.83
5.83
6.33
7.08
6.0
6.62
Map of route

Click here to down load 34 miles Norwich Yaxham loop GPX file for your GPS

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

A pleasant surprise. (The Cafe. Brooke)

The Cafe,
Brooke,
Opening times Mon-Fri 9-4, Sat 9-3,
Recommended 
In case I had been naughty this year I decided that I couldn't count on Santa to bring me the new warmer cycle clothing I required to continue my cafe cycle rating on cold winter days. Therefore last week I emptied my piggy bank and splashed out on warm socks, leggings, top and gloves. As today was a cold winters day it seemed the ideal day to try them out. 
Modelling my new winter cycle clothing collection on a cold winters day
The ride was to take in the Cafe in Brooke with today's guests Chris (wife) and Barry and Helen (tandem riders) who are the first tandem powered reviewers. After several recommendations I had visited the Cafe in the summer (with Andrew who is notoriously hard to please) but it had not scored as well as expected so I was curious to see what we thought today.

On the way to Brooke it became clear that further winter layers were required as my hands and feet were still frozen. Fortunately I believe Santa is a regular reader of my blog so I'm hoping his elves are already weaving me some inner gloves and moulding thermal shoe covers (wiggle catalogue numbers available on request).

Apart from a quick puncture stop we arrived at the Cafe in good time for our refreshments and ratings. As Barry and Helen are tandem riders I made it clear to them that they only get one vote in the guest drink ratings due to my one bike one vote rule.
Myself with Barry and Helen about to enter The Cafe
Last time I came we sat in the outside seating area but today we needed to warm up so went inside where it was warm and cosy. There was a nice selection of home-made cakes and biscuits (although sadly no big chocolate cake) and I struggled to choice between the delicious looking carrot cake and cheese scone. Fortunately Chris went for carrot cake so both could be rated.

I next ordered my usual hot chocolate but to my surprise was asked if I wanted a milk, dark or white chocolate based drink. This is a very exciting development for all hot chocolate fans and hopefully we will be seeing more cafes offering this choice in the future. I went dark. Chris went decaf skinny dark mocha, Helen (in some sort of tribute to the milky bar kid) went skinny white mocha and Barry went cappuccino. All our drinks were excellent and rated very highly with 9's all round. Barry did think his chocolate sprinkling was too sweet but based on the one bike one vote rule I ignored him.

The cakes were excellent too with the added bonus that my cheese scone came with home made relish (another cafe first). With these ratings averaged out with the last visit it moved the Box Tree Cafe well up the ratings. One thing consistent with my last visit were the very friendly staff.  So today's stop was a very pleasant surprise making this visit one of my favourite stops so far this year.

Note: The cafe also visited in Sportive 1 post on 19/01/2014.

Based on it's 3 visits, ratings for The Cafe are
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
7.17
7.33
6.5
8.33
6.5
7.17

If anyone has any suggestions for a cafe they think I should visit then please add a comment below and I'll check it out.
This is a map of the route we took

Click to download 26 mile Norwich Brooke loop GPX file for you GPS

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

First aid? (Lemon Tree Teashop - Wymondham)

Lemon Tree Tearoom,
Wymondham,
Opening times Mon10-4, Tue-Thur 9-3,
Fri-Sat 8-3 
I overheard that Chris (wife) was planning a short ride to Wymondham with Sue (friend) who she had persuaded to do a triathlon and needed some cycling practice. I saw this as a cycle cafe or tearoom rating opportunity and volunteered to come along as support crew in case of mechanical issues. My offer was accepted and I immediately raised Sue's saddle to demonstrate my bike mechanic expertise. My skills were not required again as we had an uneventful ride down to Wymondham.

I had no particular venue in mind as I knew Wymondham had a number of tearooms we could try.  So on arrival I slowly cycled down the high street looking our for a good stop. Just as I was turning a corner I spotted the Lemon Tree Teashop. I slowed down, looked behind, pointed at the Lemon Tree Teashop and gently bumped into the raised curb. The laws of Physics tells us that it is impossible to keep your balance when doing all these activities at once and I slowly toppled over landing softly on the edge of the road. 

This was clearly the most exciting thing that had happened in Wymondham town centre for many a year as I was soon surrounded by a gaggle of old ladies all keen to help. I was completely unhurt but I couldn't unclip my foot from my pedal so was trapped under my bike making my helpers think I was badly injured. Suddenly a man pushed his way through the crowd announcing that he was first aid trained. I managed to free my foot and stand up ensuring everyone I was fine. There was audible disappointment, especially from the man who had been first aid trained who had seemed desperate to put me into the recovery position. I was tempted to fain an injury just to keep the kind folk of Wymondham happy but there was a teashop to be rated so I thanked them all again and hurried inside. As we left the scene I saw the first aid trained man asking the old ladies if the incident had made any of them feel faint and if they needed to be put into the recovery position.
Lemon Tree Cafe with large outside seating area for use on warmer days.

The Lemon Tree Teashop was busy and cosy but a bit dark (there were a number of tables on the pavement outside for use on warmer days). The cake selection had two sponges and cheese or fruit scones. Fairly standard fair so I awarded the appropriate effective cake selection (ECS) rating. I ordered hot chocolate and lemon sponge, Chris decaf americano and fruit scone and Sue cappuccino and toasted tea cake. Although toasted tea cake has word cake in it's title I consider it to be a bread and not a cake so Sue was unable to play any part in rating the cake quality (which were good but not great). The hot chocolate was nice and chocolaty but unfortunately in the eagerness to fulfil the hot part of the name, the milk was burnt so spoiled the taste. My guest's coffees were described as a bit weak. Not the best tearoom I have visited but fine for a cycle stop.

We left the tearoom, avoiding a number of old ladies lying on the pavement in the recovery position, and set off back on an equally uneventful ride home. I will be purchasing the next edition of the Wymondham Times as I'm sure my bike falling incident will be front page news and I can add the cutting to my scrapbook. 

Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
5.0
5.0
6.0
6.5
6.0
5.70
Map of Route


Click here to download 27 mile Norwich Wymondham loop GPX file for your GPS

Monday, 18 November 2013

More tea? (V's Cafe - Reepham)

V’s,
Reepham,
Opening times Mon-Sat 09:00-17:00,
Recommended 
Today I drove to Aylsham (with my bike in the boot) to meet Andrew, it being his turn to host our ride. He had 'planned' a loop that would take in Reepham where he was sure there was a cafe or tearoom. This was disappointing as if he had kept up to date with this blog he would have known that I went to Reepham last Friday to the old railway station. This was when I discovered there were two disused railway stations in Reepham that both have tearooms. We therefore decided to aim for the Reepham and Whitwell station, where I had not been. I got him to promise to keep up to date with the blog in future before I would agree to set off.

Andrew's idea of planning a route is setting off in the right general direction until we get to the edge of being lost. At this point he consults his map, points down the nearest road and we repeat the process until we get nearly lost again or get to our destination. Apart from spending more time in the village of Foulsham than necessary, by passing the church in all 4 directions, we found our way to Whitwell.

On arriving it was clear we would need a plan B. Despite a station full of steam trains it was very light on visitors and staff. We did find the cafe building and a man in orange overalls tinkering with his gauges. He said that if there was no one in the tearoom he would make us a cup of tea. We tried the tearoom and came across a nice lady in a little office. She explained that they were shut but would be open at the weekend. She also offered to make us a cup of tea. I decide not to explain about cafe rating and the need to have hot chocolate and home-made cake (see there must be rules) so we politely declined her kind offer. On leaving the man in orange overalls became very insistent that he wanted to make us a cup of tea and we had to go through a number of excuses before we eventually got away tea free. It is clear if the volunteers spent more time attracting visitors and less time drinking tea then the tearoom would be able to open 7 days a week.

Thanks to my previous cafe and tearoom research I knew we could go up the road to V's cafe in Reepham town centre. V's would become the first cafe that I had rated 3 times and thus become my most rated cafe. I was also confident they wouldn't be insisting that we drank tea. As you can see from the photo below V's does have an outside seating area, which can quickly fill up on a nice day. Today I spotted there were still some outdoor seats available but as it was raining we decided to sit inside.
Standing in the outdoor seating area outside V's Cafe.
Which today still had some seats & tables available.
V's is a tearoom/cafe hybrid and does a nice job catering for those wanting a full English breakfast or those wanting tea and cake. The cake selection is small (normally 3) but all 3 looked good so I awarded a mid score effective cake selection rating.

I went for hot chocolate and rocky road cake and Andrew latte and a flapjack and date slice. The hot chocolate was excellent and more chocolatey than on previous visits and Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please) also liked his coffee. The cakes were very good and all ratings were at least a point higher than previous visits (remember ratings are averaged over last 3 visits).

V's is a very pleasant stopping point for refreshments on a ride and I'm sure I will be calling in again, hopefully on a nice day when we can make use of their outdoor facilities. 

Cafe rating based on 3 visits to V's Cafe
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
6.8
6.7
5.3
6.8
6.0
6.33
Map of route

View 39 miles Norwich Reepham loop in a larger map
Click link to download 39 mile Norwich Reepham loop GPX file for your GPS

Friday, 15 November 2013

Bike Security. (Old Railway Station at Kerri's Farmhouse Pine - Reepham)

Old Railway Station,
Reepham,
Opening times Mon-Fri 09:00-16:00,
Sat-Sun 10-16:00
Recommended 
Reepham has two old railway stations, one to the south (Whitwell) and one to the North. It is hard to see how a town of this size would ever have needed this much transport infrastructure, unless it was planning to bid for a major sporting event, and I have no recollection of the Reepham Olympic or world cup bid. However the good news is that there is now a cafe at both disused stations and they are both on the Marriots way cycle route from Norwich. Myself, with today's guest Big George, decided that for this ride we would go to the Old Railway Station at Kerri's Farmhouse Pine just to the North of Reepham. It was too muddy to take our road bikes down the Marriots way so we did a 40 mile on-road loop instead.

Big George claimed he had been poorly this week so we had to take it easy. I did notice he kept needing to adjust his bike every time we got to the top of a hill (so he could have a breather me thinks) but we did eventually get to the venue.
Old Railway Station - Reepham
To make the day even more exciting I had my new Alamio security lock to try. The Alamio combines a bike lock with a piercing 100 decibel car type alarm. I enthusiastically wrapped it round our bikes and set the security system up safe in the knowledge we had thwarted bike crime in Reepham for the day.

We entered the Cafe (which also combines a gift shop featuring an array of jams and relishes) and found the cake counter in front of us. This was good as I could immediately decide on the effective cake selection (ECS) rating. There were a number of cakes and biscuits but only the cheese scone and chocolate cake stood out so I awarded an average ECS score. I went for my normal hot chocolate and a cheese scone. Big George went for a Cappuccino and Fruit scone.

It was too cold for the outside seating area so we sat inside through the back of the cafe overlooking the old platform. We were now some way from our bikes making me worry that we would not hear the alarm if the criminal fraternity of Reepham decided to pounce.

I could no longer concentrate on any further cafe rating and decided I would have to test the alarm effectiveness. I went back outside and started to tamper with my Alarmio. I eventually got it to go off and it did indeed have a loud 100 decibel car type alarm noise. This not only startled me but all the customers and staff at the cafe and pine shop as well. 
Acting like a criminal by testing Alarmio - nearly causing a major crime incident
There are times in life when you wish you had read the instruction before trying something new out and this incident would feature high on that list as I realised I didn't know how to switch the alarm off. I desperately fumbled with the lock but to no avail. At any moment I expected to hear screeching cars, see helicopters overhead and armed marksmen appear in the trees as the Reepham special branch descended on a potential major crime scene. Fortunately before they managed to assemble I figured out how to switch it off and the armed response unit were probably stood down ( I shall, however, be writing to the Mayor of Reepham suggesting his police force sharpen up their reaction times).

Big George confirmed he could hear the alarm at our table and we could therefore safely continue our beverages. Our drinks were both OK but nothing special and scored accordingly, however my cheese scone was infeasibly large and looked really good.

Infeasibly large cheese scone
I hoped it tasted as good as it looked as cake size is not always a good indication of cake quality however on this occasion it was and I have to say it was one of the finest cheese scones I have had. On the other hand Big Georges fruit scone was only average and had been warmed up (which I think is fine for cheese but wrong for fruit scones) so it pulled down the overall cake quality score.

I enjoyed my visit to the old station at Reepham and am keen to go there again in the future with some of my other cycling chums. I even managed to look round the large selection of jams and relishes to see if they had lemon curd (which they did and made me think that I could start a lemon curd based blog in the future).

Big George did think I looked far to comfortable around the jams and relishes so we agreed we would not speak of it again and we only talked about manly things on the ride back.


Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
6.0
5.0
6.0
8.0
7.5
6.50
Map of route


Click link to download 39 mile Norwich Reepham loop GPX file for your GPS

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Going up the league. (Tabnabs tearoom - Mattishall)

Tabnabs,
Mattishall,
Open Mon-Sat 9:00-16:00,
Highly Recommended
I was looking through the current ratings table (see end of blog) and was surprised to see that Tabnabs tearoom in Mattishall was only halfway up the standings, as I remembered it having excellent cake. Last time my cycling guest reviewer was Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please) and there were a number of crying babies at one of the tables which hadn't helped the atmosphere and ambiance (AAA) score.

Today seemed an excellent day for a revisit with Chris (wife) as today's cycling guest.

The ride itself was uneventful and we arrived in Mattishall after about an hour. Tabnabs is in a courtyard near the church. Sadly there isn't any outside seating that all us cyclist crave. (Note: I have since been contacted by Mrs Tabnabs who pointed out that there are outside seats available in the summer or, for the hardy amongst you, you can request a chair and go and sit outside in the winter if you really want to).
Tabnabs tearoom from the courtyard.
Inside has a modern feel with a shiny wooden floor and a number of tables for two. As always I spent sometime at the cake area to award the effective cake selection (ECS) rating. Tabnabs has a large selection of tasty looking cakes so scored very well. One of the cakes on offer was chocolate and beetroot which I hoped Chris would go for. Sadly she told me that she couldn't bring herself to have a root vegetable based cake, so imagine my surprise when she choose carrot cake instead. I decided to go down the more traditional fruit cake route and went for a bread pudding.

As always I ordered a hot chocolate before Chris decided to act out part of Monty Pythons famous cheese shop sketch but with a coffee theme. They were waiting for a delivery of decaf coffee, milkman had forgotten to leave any skimmed milk, cat had stolen all the cream etc before they confirmed they did have the ingredients necessary for a semi skinny caffeine coffee mocha before asking the Greek balalaika player to leave.

The hot chocolate (which was only average on last visit) was superb being very thick and chocolatey and Chris reckoned it was the best (if only) semi skinny caffeine coffee mocha she had had. The cake was also as good as I had remembered and again scored very well.

Fortunately the crying babies were not in today but the indoor seating area was full of chattering lady village folk. I  realised that apart from myself (and Andrew on our last visit) I had never seen any other chaps in Tabnabs. From my personal experience it does seem to attract the gossiping ladies and mothers meeting crowd. So in terms of ambiance and atmosphere (AAA) rating it will score highly if you are a chattering mother but not so well if you are a cyclist trying to refuel both physically and mentally. Myself and Chris, therefore, couldn't agree on the AAA rating. In these circumstances I always use the 'its my ratings spreadsheet' ruling and gave it my AAA score.

Apart from the lack of outside seating area (see previous note) and amount of non cycle based chatter it had the best drink and cakes ratings I have had at a visit. If this had been the first rating of Tabnabs (scores are averaged over last 3 see 'there must be rules post') it would have gone straight to the top of the tearooms ratings table and I would highly recommend a visit, I know I well be back again.

Note Tabnabs tearoom was also visited in sportive 2 in March 2014, on practice calorie neutral cycle in September 2014 and sportive 10 in January 2015 making it my most visited stop.

Cafe rating based on 2 visits to Tab nabs
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
7.75
7.75
8.25
9.0
6.0
7.75
Map of route


Download GPX file of route to load onto a GPS 28 mile Norwich - Mattishall loop

Friday, 8 November 2013

What is a 'Country Teapot'?. (Sue's Country Teapot, Dereham)

Sues Country Teapot,
Dereham,
Opening times Mon-Sat 09:00-16:00,
Sun 10-15:00
No I don't know either but apparently Sue has one and it's in Dereham, so, after nearly two weeks since a cafe visit, I set off with my guest for the day (notoriously hard to please Andrew) to test out Sue's Country Teapot. 

Once again the ride came with added pressure as Andrew had to be back by 1.00pm to collect his son. This meant a good pace, short refreshment stop and no incidents would be necessary if we were to get round in time. Unfortunately we achieved none of these as there was far too much talking with not enough pedalling. 

We arrived in Dereham and started to search for Sue's Country Teapot. Much to my annoyance Sue's Country Teapot was not where it should have been. I clearly remembered where it was on the internet map I had studied before we left but in the real world it just wasn't there. We were aimlessly cycling round Dereham when Andrew bravely stepped in and asked a local where Sue's Country Teapot was,  a question I couldn't bring myself to ask. Fortunately the local knew what he was talking about and was able to direct us. We found it attached to the side of the Dereham factory outlet shop.
Outside entrance to Factory shop where you can find Sues country teapot
On entering it was clear the décor was aimed more at the OAP shopping crowd rather than the cafe seeking cyclist. White table clothes, lace curtains, and lots of pink plus a strange perfume smell would normally see me moving on for my refreshments but it passed all my criteria for a rating review (see post 'there must be rules') so in we went. Sue seemed to have attracted a number of local ageing shoppers into her country teapot and  it was busy and buzzing. Unfortunately the car park location along with the old fashioned furnishings did not give much room for a high ambiance score and was rated accordingly.

As always I went straight to the cake display zone to review the cakes and award the effective cake selection rating. There was a good selection but only a few lonely slices of each cake and none that leapt out shouting 'eat me' so I could only award an average ECS score.

The drinks menu was also a little disappointing, the only coffee available was described as 'hot milky coffee' but I did notice there were 4 types of tea. I suggested to Andrew he choose from the tea menu. He pointed out the 4 types were pot, cup, pot for two or mug so not really the fine tea selection he had in mind. He went for pot and a scone and I went for Hot chocolate and chocolate cake.

Once again the focus of my drink had been put on the hot part of the drink and very much not on the chocolate bit but at least the milk was not burnt. Andrews cup of tea was a standard cup of teabag based tea but he did get to pour it into a china cup.

Scone and chocolate cake were both fine but nothing special. Overall Sue's country teapot did not score well as a cycle ride destination but did seem very popular with its target Dereham factory shop customer base. Despite the very friendly staff it is unlikely I will be making a return visit on a ride and therefore turned down the opportunity of joining their loyalty scheme.

We left still unsure what a country teapot was and if Sue had even been there. We returned to Norwich on some very nice roads with the wind behind but not at a fast enough pace to meet our deadline so sorry to Andrew's son for late pick up.


Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
4.0
5.0
6.0
6.0
5.5
5.30
Route

Click link to download 37 mile Norwich Dereham loop GPX file for your GPS