Lets find a Cafe (or tearoom)

Lets find a Cafe (or tearoom)

Locations of reviewed cafes

For more information on the Cafes I have visited and the latest cafe cycle news go to http://www.cake-crusader.co.uk/

Cake Crusader Book

There is now a Cake Crusader book available where you can follow my journey from humble local trips to world record attempts and near-death experiences. How did a simple method of keeping track of decent cycling café pit stops turn my life upside down? Track my adventures into Europe, up mountains and right across Great Britain as I become a 'rising star' on social media. Will I prove my critics wrong? Should cheese scones be served hot or cold? Do I really have nothing better to do with his time? A must read for lovers of cycling and cake or anyone wanting to make it big in the virtual world

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Saturday, 14 May 2022

Tour de Gateaux stages 1 and 2. (Coffee Den at Pura Vida, Wortwell)

Coffee Den at Pura Vida Garden centre,

Wortwell,

Tue-Sun 9.30-3.00

Highly Recommended

To celebrate getting back on the bike properly then this year I have decide to organise a few 2 day rides that will be part of the first ever Tour de Gateaux. Unlike other stage races on the international bike scene, the Tour de Gateaux always has a cafe stop half way through where points are awarded for eating cake for the cake eating points prize. There are also prizes for stages wins and the overall general classification.

Entry is by invite only where the only criteria is that I think I can ride faster than you. I therefore hand picked seven of my regular cycling guests to join me on the Grande de Part. The first two stages were Norwich to Aldeburgh and  Aldeburgh to Norwich. I inadvertently forgot to mention to the other seven that it was a race to further increase my chances of winning.

Unfortunately it was a wet and windy start as the peleton left Norwich and headed for the first compulsory cafe stop at Beccles. 

part of the peleton dealing with the unseasonable conditions

I had kindly offered to carry Mrs.Crusader’s overnight kit on my bike. The 1st law of packing states that the amount of stuff taken will always fill the the luggage space available however long the trip. Knowing this law I made sure I gave her the smallest pannier I could find. Which as predicted came back full to the brim.

Lunch was at Twyfords in Beccles which appears to be a very popular and rather expensive cafe (£5.95 for a slice of cake!). 

It claims to have a secret garden although not much of a secret as it advertises the fact. I had been here once before so was keen to check the ratings. See previous review for up to date cafe scores etc Wet, wet, wet.

Outside Twyfords where there is sadly little bike parking

The staff were very friendly and the drinks all scored well. As cake was so expensive I was the only one that had any so this put me straight to the top of the cake eating leader board. It was a salted caramel sponge which was nice but not spectacular. Note to self I must remember to tell the others about the cake eating competition.

Very expensive cake

We also had lunch which everyone seemed to enjoy. By the time we left there was a big queue waiting for tables so it seems to be a very popular joint.

Unfortunately the rain had got heavier and wind stronger as we set off again towards Aldeburgh but Mrs Frazer was very excited when she got to cycle across a golf course.

Cycling across the 11th hole at Thorpeness

As we approached the final couple of kms the road turned along the sea front and straight into a head wind. There was only me and old school cyclist Dom left as the rest of the riders had been blown away. Dom attempted the old trick of sitting on my wheel to shield from the wind before trying to sprint past but he went about a mile too soon so I was able to repeat his trick and had a big lead as we went under the flan rouge. The stage and tour leaders Maglia Rosa Jersey was mine.

After a relaxed evening then stage 2 was due to start at 9:45 but as usual the group had an over long breakfast and faffing to fit in so were far from ready on time.

Pre ride faffing

I waited patiently in my bright pink tour leaders Jersey for the rest of the peleton to finally arrive.

Proudly wearing my the tour leaders Jersey

Before setting off we decided to ask a passing dog walker to take a group photo which didn't quite come out as hoped but I'm sure you get the idea.

Team photo plus passing dogwalkers finger

Fuelled by an overlong breakfast the group set off at a good speed until the first controversary of the day when Barry and Helen and their tandem were spotted mechanically doping as it was discover Barry's so called water bottle was in fact a battery for an E-tandem! And they were thrown out of todays stage.

Disgraceful display of blatant mechanical doping

Todays lunch stop was at the coffee den at Pura Vida garden centre where the cafe seems the bigger attraction.

Wondering where the rest of group had got to as I arrive at 

There was plenty of indoor and outdoor seating plus and indoor/outdoor fusion seating area, which looked very comfy but sadly full.

There was a solid cake selection to select from which the nice waitress lady could recite by heart.

Today’s cake selection 

The drinks went down well and scored highly but despite me explaining the cake points competition to everyone yesterday only me and Helen had any cake, and she had already been DQed.

The only cakes eaten today
Everyone else had more traditional lunchtime fare and it was agreed this was a very good cycle cafe stop and I highly recommend a visit.

As the ride neared it’s end the peleton started to spread out, but as cycling host I decide to wait up from time to time to make sure everyone was still on route and alive.

Part of strung out peleton 

But as we neared the end Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please) didn't wait nicely and set of on an outrageous break to claim the stage (but not the jersey). He may have won the day but has turnned the cycling public against him for such unsportsmanlike behaviour. 

Andrew starts his dash for the line

The tour now heads to North Norfolk at the end of May for the next two stages.

Scores for Coffee Den at Pura Vida based on 2 visits. Most recent 12th May 2022

Hot Choc Quality

Guest Hot Drink Quality

Effective Cake Selection

Cake Quality

Ambiance and Atmosphere

Café Rating

6..5

7

7.25

7.5

7.3

7.11

Route

Monday, 2 May 2022

Vegantastic (Salthouse Stores, Salthouse)

Salthouse Stores,

Salthouse,

Mon-Sat 08:30-4:00, Sun 8:30-1.00

Highly Recommended

I'm not sure if I mentioned it in previous posts but I got a knee injury last Autumn which needed an operation and I was on crutches for 7 weeks (oh apparently I have mentioned it).

But this week I was back on the bike for the first cafe review since last October! And as it turned out it was a cracker.

After all the warm weather of a few weeks ago then, as soon as I was ready to join in again it got distinctly colder and windier, but I wasn't to be put off and met up with Andrew (who is still notoriously hard to please) at Hard to Please House in Aylsham. Andrew was in charge of the route and I had chosen Salthouse Stores as our destination.

It was a tough 20 odd mile ride up to the North Norfolk coast into the wind. Fortunately I had been able to keep up some semblance of fitness by using my indoor bike and plenty of crutch based walking. As usual we attempted to solve the worlds problems as we cycled along but they seem to have got a deal trickier since our last ride.

Despite the strong headwind it was so nice being on a cafe cycle review ride that for once I didn't whinge about how windy Norfolk was, so before I knew it we had pulled up outside the Salthouse stores.

Outside the lovely Salthouse Stores

Andrew had been rather hard to please in persuading him that this was a good destination as he thought it was mainly a shop and had very low expectations of the quality of the refreshments.

However once inside we found a very good selection of cakes and a good range of coffee. They even had his favourite, a cortado. I was also super pleased to be offered a milk or dark hot chocolate and went for dark, obvs.

As I'm in touch with environmental issues I know Veganism is a good thing so I have decided to highlight if the cafe has any vegan offerings or not and from now on will indicate if a cafe is Vegantastic.

Well as a first one then the Salthouse stores is defiantly vegantastic, with knobs on, as all its cakes range was vegan. 

All the cakes were Vegan and there was a Vegan sausage roll too
I went for a black cherry slice and Andrew banana and cherry loaf.

We decide to sit inside in the smallest indoor seating area I've so far come across. It had a couple of stools at a window style breakfast bar and not even room for any cat swinging (I'm note sure if cat swinging is a thing anymore or even if I'm allowed to mention it). It was a great space with views over the marshes only spoilt with a big red van in the way.
The smallest indoor seating area to date

Our refreshments soon arrived and both the cakes and drinks were excellent . Andrew even said his banana and cherry loaf was the best (if only) one he had ever had.
Excellent Cakes and drinks

Andrew had to admit he was wrong about the Salthouse Stores as it was a real find and he is already planning a return trip so I highly recommend a visit.

Andrews route now headed up the big hill from Salthouse which he recons has the steepest section of road in all of Norfolk (based on his own unscientific research). Possibly not the start to the return ride required straight after cake and hot chocolate.
Top of big hill up from Salthouse

As always in Norfolk the tail wind we were expecting on the way home never materialised but I didn't care as it had been a very successful trip and cafe cycle reviewing was back underway 

I have a very long list of cafes needing checkout but as Desmond Tutu replied, when asked how do you eat a giant cream Victoria sponge, one bite at a time (or was that elephants?)

Scores

Hot Choc Quality

Guest Hot Drink Quality

Effective Cake Selection

Cake Quality

Ambiance and Atmosphere

Café Rating

7.4

8

7.4

8

8.2

7.80

Route 


Click here to download 40 mile Alysham Cley loop GPX file to your GPS

Friday, 29 April 2022

Cafes on Crutches 2

Cafes on Crutches 2

In the 2nd, and hopefully last ever, edition of cafes on crutches I have re visted a number of my favourite venues plus managed a couple of new cafes as well.

So here are Aprils cafes on crutches which may give you some ideas on where to go on your next cafe cycle ride.

1. Eaton Park cafe in Norwich (see Anyone for Tennis for original review, route and current rating)

The Cafe is situated at the bandstand in the middle of the park and always popular with park users, passing cyclists or people on crutches.

There is a good selection of cakes (mainly traybakes) and scones that are all individually wrapped in a covid friendly way.
There is a small indoor seating section but everything is served in takeaway cups as most people sit elsewhere.
There is plenty of seating outside the cafe or in the park.
The drinks aren't the best but the cakes (traybakes) are very good and its a very nice setting for a stop.

2. Tabnabs at Mattishall (see Going up the league for original review, route and current rating)

Tabnabs has always been a Cake Crusader favourite and consistently resides in my top 10 cafes list. 

The cake selection is one of the best and if I had to vote for my favourite cake anywhere then the chocolate and beetroot would probably be it.
The one downside is the indoor seating area is a bit clinical and lacks some atmosphere although the staff are very friendly. There is a small amount of outdoor space out the front.
I decided to test out the Vegan cake on this visit which was Lemon and Blueberry and was excellent. The drinks were top notch too.
If it is high quality cakes and drinks you are after then Tabnabs never disappoints.

3. Earsham Hall (see Cake Crusader Sportive 16 for original review, route and current rating)

This is a lovely tearoom at Earsham Hall near Bungay. 

It has a pretty solid cake and scone selection which always delivers.
There is limited seating inside but a lovely big sheltered courtyard area where most punters opt to sit.
Drinks are pretty decent too.
This is my go to cafe for a leisurely ride heading south and well worth a visit.

4. Kin Cafe (New Cafe for my list)

Kin Cafe is at Rowan House in Hethersett and is open weekdays.

It has good drinks and a small selection of cakes including some Vegan ones.
You can either sit in a reasonably sized indoor seating area or sit outside and watch the comings and goings at the gateway to Hethersett.
I nearly always opt for outside.

Always a nice stop.

5. Bread Source in Aylsham.(New Cafe for my list)

Bread source is a local chain of cafes and bakeries in Aylsham and Norwich. The original one was in Aylsham but they have recently moved to bigger premises near the square.

They concentrate on doing a fairly small range of sweet and savoury stuff, as well as bread, which they do exceptionally well.

The shop has a large indoor space but nothing outdoors as far as I could see.
The quality of the food offerings is always excellent and the drinks are some of the best too.
I've been to all their outlets and they are consistently good and defiantly a good fuelling point at anytime on a ride.

6. Ravenous cafe (see Annoying Squeak for original review, route and current rating)

The Ravenous cafe is just outside Raveningham near Loddon. It has some indoor space plus lots of room outside. In the spring there is often a sculpture trail round the local hall and the cafe is by the entrance to that.

There is a nice selection of cakes and the sausage rolls are some of the best.
Drinks are ok but the bread pudding I had this day was exceptional.
Another Cake Crusader favourite especially if the wind is from the East.

7. Hen House near Wymondham (see Eggcellent Find for original review, route and current rating)
The Hen House is at the Egg Shed near Wymondham Abbey so you can buy eggs as well as eat cake.
There is no traditional indoor seating area but an outside seating area is available on the drive and lawns.
There are also heated sheds and a barn if you would rather have your refreshments under cover.
Its all take away so everything in paper cups but the drinks are good and there is a range of hot chocolates which gets my approval. All the cakes are made on site and the cheese scones are some of the best.
In fact the Easter muffin I had this day was so nice that I had eaten most of it before I remembered to take a photo.

Its always a popular cafe so can get quite busy but its my favourite one in the Wymondham area.

8. Blackberries at Centre Paws near Wymondham (see Dogs for original review, route and current rating)
Blackberries is the cafe at a dog centre called Centre Paws where you can take your dog for a fun day out. I don't have a dog just a bicycle so I can't comment on the canine based activity available I'm afraid.
I can, however, comment on the very interesting (in a good way) cake selection from which I opted for a chocolate orange rocky road and cheese scone.
There is seating inside, on the veranda or in the courtyard area.

The drinks are ok and the cakes very good.
I have been here several times and its always been a nice and friendly stop.

So that's the last cafe I have visited on crutches and I'm now back on the bike so normal service will be resumed shortly as I have a very long list of new cafes to visit and old ones to check up on. Watch this space.



Saturday, 2 April 2022

Cafes on Crutches 1

Cafes on Crutches 1

March 2022

In case I haven't mentioned it then I have a poorly knee. This has put me mainly out of action since September but I had a knee operation at the start of the month and hopefully i'll be back on the bike in May. However before then I'm stuck on crutches for a few weeks. 

I had planned to spend the winter reviewing my work to date and revisiting a number of cafes to refresh my ratings. I did manage a few rides but today will be first edition of "cafes on crutches" as I have returned to review a selection of venues with my new stick based friends. So here is a quick summary of some more cafe options for you to try. Although I suggest you go by bike.

1. The Beach Cafe on Gorleston prom (see Norfolk cycle parkrun challenge stage 5for original review, route and current rating)

My last visit here was part of my cycle parkrun challenge when me and my friend Mark cycled then ran all the parkruns in Norfolk. Since then another 8 Norfolk based parkruns have started and we had aimed to revisit them by bike as well but sadly, because I've got a bad knee (which I don't like to talk about) then this is on hold until the summer. 

Anyway the Beach cafe is on the prom overlooking the sea and is a short hop (literally) down the prom to get to.
It has a fine cake selections with sponges, scones and interesting tray bakes
I remember on my previous visit we were joined by Marks friends. The cakes were good and I announced a cake taste quality (CTQ) mark of 7.9. Mark’s friend was intrigued by my scoring methods and asked what the cakes would have required to do to score an 8. I was glad he recognised my cake tasting expertise and willing explained that they would needed to have been 0.1 better for that rating. 
The cakes were good again today but once again the drinks were pretty ordinary. However defiantly one of the best beach cafes I've been to.

2. OB Cafe at Old Buckenham (see Third Time Lucky for original review, route and current rating)

The OB cafe is a favourite with cyclists being super cycle friendly with lots of outdoor space. Over the years it has grown from a small van to a much larger venue with marquee and sheds to sit in as well as an outdoor decked seating area.

You always get a very warm welcome from Kong who is Norfolk's favourite Barista
The cakes are mainly of the tray bike variety and the range has grown as its cake selection used to be its Achilles heel, but no more.
The drinks are ok but the cakes are always excellent and I'm yet to find one I didn't like.
However the setting is what makes this cafe so good and you can spend ages relaxing in your shed while watching the duck action on the large pond.

A must for all cyclists although can get busy during the peak season when the campsite is in full swing.

3. Blakeys Bus at Mulbarton (see on the buses for original review, route and current rating)

Is it a cafe or is it a bus? Well obviously its a cafe or I wouldn't have included it in my post but it is a cafe in a bus. Its based in the car park at Mulbarton sports fields opposite the common.

You can sit upstairs on the bus or there is lots of outside space. You can even take your refreshments over to the common if you want to.
There is a nice selection of cakes covering all the essentials.
They are pretty good cakes and come with a fruit based garnish. The drinks are pretty solid too
Always worth a visit especially if you are old enough to have a reminisce about On the Buses,  the Double Deckers, or Cliffs classic film Summer Holiday. If you remember none of these than ask your parents.

4. Flint Barn Cafe at Whitlingham Broad (see Toddler Entertainment for original review, route and current rating)

This cafe is at Whittlingham broad and is best cycled to as the car park is a bit pricing for crutch based visits. As the name suggests its in a big barn which doubles as the visitors centre and some indoor seating space.
There is also lots of space to have your refreshments outside to enjoy views of the broad. 
The cake selection is pretty good to. Over the years I have become a bit of a hot chocolate snob so I now enquire what variety it is. The friendly lady showed me a tin of hot choc powder so I ordered a tea. However she assured me it was a nice one so I agreed to try it.
We enjoyed the outdoor seating area and although the hot chocolate wasn't the best it was pretty decent and I was glad I had been persuaded.
As an added bonus the best cycle route here goes through the delightful Norwich sewage on national cycle route 1 so you can take that in as well. For a cafe at a park or tourist attraction this is one of the best.

5. Art Cafe at Glandford (see 100 Not out for original review, route and current rating)

The Art cafe has been in my top 10 since I first visited many years ago so it was good to have a chance to check if it still deserves to be there. It is in the model village of Glandford and is nearby the self proclaimed "World Famous" shell museum. Sadly it was shut until after Easter.


The cafe has a homeware accessory type things shop at the front and indoor seating area at the back. The indoor seating area is very cosy in the winter with a wood burner in the corner but on brighter days there is lots of outdoor seating. Spookily there is a small Art gallery next door to the Art cafe, what a coincidence!
The cafe is Vegetarian and has a good selection of cakes, scones and tray bakes.
We had our cakes and drinks in the outdoor seating area which is opposite the Grey Seal coffee roasting shed which means the coffee here is very good.
Still remains one of my top cafes and worth a visit if you are up in the North Norfolk area.

Bonus cafe

If you have manged to plough this far through the post then here is a bonus cafe from my recent crutches based trip to North Yorkshire. 

6. The Barn in North Yorkshire (Bonus cafe)

This cafe appeared to be in a cyclists hot spot so if you are planning a trip in the UK it looks a pretty good area to visit.

The Barn cafe was in the village of Hutton le Ho and had a fine selection of cakes
However the fruit cake I ordered came with a lump of cheese on it which can't be right.
Sadly on our return from Yorkshire my chauffeur (Mrs Crusader) was struck down with the virus that must not be named. I have locked her in a small room in Crusader towers until she can prove she isn't infections at which point I will let her out and allow her to drive me to some more cafes on crutches.