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

Available on Amazon

Sunday 22 June 2014

Cake Crusader Sportive 4. (37 miles via Pennoyer Centre, Pulham St Mary)

Sportive 4,
Pennoyer Centre,
Pulham St Mary,
Opening times Mon-Sat 09:30-03:30,
 Highly Recommended
Yesterday saw the 4th Norfolk Cafe Cycle Tour Sportive of the year with a visit to the Pennoyer Centre at Pulham St Mary (see a long way round for previous visit). It was an incident packed ride of punctures, wrong turnings, crashes and cake selection controversy.

A massive field of 7 had gathered for this ride and after the usual pre sportive faffing about the riders set off from race HQ and headed south.
Sportive riders about to get on bikes to set off.
 Hans's new bike and Chris's new bike shoes took pride of place.
It wasn't long before the first drama of the day as a GPS malfunction put the route into reverse causing great confusion and a wrong turning to be taken. Fortunately George got a puncture and while repairs were undertaken their was time to get navigation back under control, or so we thought.
George admiring my puncher repair skills
We had two GPS's today so I foolishly let deputy navigator Ali take the front so that I could perform lead rider duties by making sure I chatted with all the participants while pretending to be interested in what they had been up to in the last week. Unfortunately whilst chatting to Jodie I saw Ali miss the correct turning. I naturally yelled 'wrong way' and slammed on my breaks. Unfortunately Jodie wasn't expecting this and crashed into the back of me tipping herself straight into the nettle rich ditch. As she was being stung she started to squeal that her foot was stuck in the pedal. Although I acted as quickly as I could I was not able to get my phone out before she had managed to free herself so there is sadly no picture of Jodie in the ditch for the blog.
Jodie's nettle rash leg
Although covered in stings she bravely got back on the bike and we continued down to the Pennoyer Centre at Pulham St Mary.
Riders bikes filling the available bike parking facilities at the Pennoyer Centre
I headed straight for the cafe area to check out the cake selection while others headed to the shops to buy creams and tablets to help Jodie's nettle based discomfort. I thought the cake selection was good with a number of cakes and scones available. However Ali (who is becoming increasingly hard to please) complained that for such a hot day he would like a lighter cake selection and felt it had not been adequately seasonally adjusted. Despite the lack of a fluffy sponge or lemon sorbet I still awarded a good effective cake selection (ECS) score.
Cake selection, although it had not been seasonally adjusted for a hot day
This was the first time I had rated a cafe or tearoom for the 4th time and as all cafe cycle reviewers know that for currency purposes only the last 3 visits count in the scores (see their must be rules). So as the Pennoyer Centre would be losing it's first, and currently best set of ratings, the pressure was on for a good performance to maintain it's place in my current top 10 rated cafe and tearooms.

A varied selection of drinks and cakes were ordered and delivered to our table on a number of trays by the self proclaimed Mrs Overall. Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please) had ordered tea and a sandwich, as a sandwich is not cake he would play no further part in any cake related reviewing. Everyone except Ali (who is becoming increasingly hard to please) thought their cakes were excellent with the apple and caramel cake coming in for particular praise. Ali had had the fruit scone and asked for it to be warmed thus breaking the golden rule 'cheese scone hot, fruit scone not' so only had himself to blame.
The particular good apple and caramel cake about to be reviewed
After much debate on cake and drink quality, whilst ignoring the rantings of certain hard to please individuals, it was generally agreed the standard of cakes and drinks was still high at the Pennoyer centre and it managed to keep it's place in the top 10 rated cafes and tearooms.
Tasting and debating cake and drink quality
The Pennoyer centre is one of 3 cafes that I currently have a loyalty card for (see loyalty card photo library feature on side of blog), so I was pleased to collect 7 more stamps leaving only two more before I am entitled to a free drink.

There was one last bit of drama on the return back when Jodie again decided to have an unscheduled lie down on the side of the road after attempting to ride through a ford. Once again I missed the photo opportunity as I had been keeping my distance and got too far ahead of the incident.
Cycling up one of Norfolks famous hill climbs on the way back to Norwich
Despite all drama it was agreed, by me, that it had been another successful Cake Crusader Sportive.
Scores for Pennoyer Centre based on last 3 visits
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
Map of route

View 37 Miles Pulham st Mary in a larger map

Click link to download 37 mile Norwich Pulham St Mary loop GPX file for your GPS

Thursday 12 June 2014

Chocolate Cafe (Caley's Cocoa Cafe, Norwich)

Caley’s Cafe,
Now Closed Down
Today I was due to meet up with a guest reviewer in Norwich. I can not revel his/her name as he/she should have been at work creating share holder value rather than wasting his/her time discussing cake. As a share holder of this company I was appalled. We shall refer to this person as Mr/Ms X.

After a short cycle I arrived at today's venue Caley's Cocoa cafe in the Guildhall by Norwich market. Once there I found Mr/Ms X had been waiting for 30 mins claiming they thought we were meeting at 10:30 rather than 11:00. I got out my phone to find the text that confirmed I was correct with my arrival time and marched smugly inside.
Outside Caley's Cocoa cafe at the Guildhall in Norwich at the agreed meeting time
Disappointingly there is no outside seating area but inside there is both a downstairs and balcony seating area. Downstairs there is an eclectic mixture of seating with sofas, comfy chairs and normal chairs. We choose a comfy chair table. I found the décor tired and dull but Mr/Ms X loved it and thought it was period and interesting.

As it was waitress service I left my comfy chair to inspect the cake display cabinet so that I could award the effective cake selection score (ECS). There were some nice looking cakes, although not a huge selection, but I still awarded a good ECS.
Cakes in the cake display unit featuring some nice big sponge cakes
I ordered lemon sponge with my hot chocolate and Mr/Ms X ordered coffee cake and a fizzy water. Fizzy water doesn't qualify as a guest drink which put today's visit at risk. Fortunately I knew Chris (wife) had been here before so could provide me with a retrospective guest drink score.
Cakes and hot chocolate ready for reviewing. 
Not only did Mr/Ms X have a glass of water and liked the clearly dodgy décor but went on to say his cake was a potential 10 out of 10. At this point I decided to ignore his/her scores as he/she was clearly mad and in need of a lot more reviewer training before he/she could be taken seriously in a cafe or tearoom rating situation. However I thought the cakes were good, as was my hot chocolate. I did feel for a chocolate based cafe my drink should have been exceptional. I also expected a choice of hot chocolate type drinks that I have had at other cafes.

After I finished updating my ratings spreadsheet on my phone, Mr/Ms X foolishly asked me how I was. As I had not seen him/her since my dramatic hospital experience I told them the whole story of my emergency operation etc which took sometime, well they did ask.

Overall I was surprisingly impressed by Caley's Cocoa cafe and it could easily become Norwich's answer to Betty's tearoom. It was also quite busy but even at my age I was the youngest customer by some margin. Certainly worth a visit.

Hopefully Mr/Ms X will be working late tonight to make up for the time they wasted with me today.
Score For Caley's Cocoa Cafe
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating

Saturday 7 June 2014

Checking out the scones. (Tudor Bakehouse Coffee Shop, Harleston)

Tudor Bakehouse,
Opening times Mon-Sat 07:00-16:30,
Earlier this year I went on a cafe cycle review to the Tudor Bakehouse Coffee Shop in Long Straton (see what no rain). I had a nice visit but was disappointed with the lack of Tudorness. Further research revelled that there is another and original Tudor Bakehouse coffee shop in Harleston. So I decided to head down to Harleston, with guest Big George, to check it out and hopefully have a more Tudor rich experience.

As an added bonus I had read that the Tudor Bakehouse Coffee Shop in Harleston had award winning cheese scones. They had won this award at the prestigious annual Wroxham Barns scone competition in 2012. Scone awards don't get bigger than that so I was expecting something exceptional in the cheese scone department.

This was the final day of the 1st Annual Norfolk Cafe Cycle Tour June Cafe Cycle Reviewing (ANCCTJCCR) festival (see Pizza oven envy) and we were blessed with perfect weather conditions as we enjoyed an incident free trip down to the Tudor Bakehouse Coffee shop in Harleston.

Outside the Tudor Bakehouse Coffee shop. 
On arrival it was disappointing to see that from the outside there were still no obvious sign that any Tudors had ever been here or that the building had anything Tudor about it architecture wise. However once inside the Tudor bakehouse was littered with non Tudor features. One day I will solve the riddle of why the Tudor Bakehouse's are completely void of Tudorness but for now it was time to get down to cycle cafe reviewing. 

The cake display cabinet had a very respectable range of cakes and slices and I awarded a high effective cake selection (ECS) rating. However myself and Big George really wanted to try the award wining cheese scones which were surprisingly tucked away behind the counter in the bread section with no reference to their award winning nature. 
A good selection of cakes in and on the cake display cabinet
We both ordered an award winning cheese scone and in order to get a more rounded view of overall cake quality I ordered a chocolate oat slice as well, which as far as I know had never won an award.

Drinks, award wining cheese scones and award free chocolate oat slice
The cheese scones lived up to the hype and we could both see why they were award winning. They had both a good texture and a good amount of cheese, something other so called cheese scones I have tried could learn from. The chocolate oat slice was also very nice. My hot chocolate was only average being rather weak and milky. Big George loved the chocolate sprinkles on his cappuccino and felt his drink was good but again a bit weak.

Being a bakers as well as a coffee shop there was not a lot of seating available with a choice between a large table or some comfy chairs and tables in the window but the Tudor Bakehouse had a lively trade. I would definitely recommend a visit especially for fans of award winning cheese scones but you will be sadly disappointed if you are including it on a tour of Tudor architecture. 

With the wind behind the ride home zoomed by. It sadly brought to an end the first ANCCTJCCR festival and hopefully next year the weather will be better so all the ANCCTJCCR festival rides can be completed.
Scores for The Tudor Bakehouse Coffee Shop
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
Map of route

Click here to down load 43 mile Norwich Harleston loop GPX file for your GPS

Thursday 5 June 2014

Pizza oven envy. (Wiveton Hall Cafe, Wiveton)

Wiveton Hall Café,
Everyday 09:30-16:30 (March to November),
Highly Recommended
This week I had planned for 3 consecutive days of Cafe Cycle reviewing, each with a different set of guests, as part of the 1st Annual Norfolk Cafe Cycle Tour June Cafe Cycle Reviewing (ANCCTJCCR) festival. Unfortunately due to rain yesterdays ride with Barry and Helen and their tandem was cancelled meaning this years ANCCTJCCR festival would only be a two day event. However with better weather today, I drove out to Aylsham to meet Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please) for a ride out to Wiveton Hall cafe.

I had previously been there before with each of my regular guests but not since starting the blog, so it was time for a proper review. As it was a regular ride even Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please) with his poor track record of route planning guided us smoothly to Wiveton Hall Cafe. 
Outside Wiveton Hall Cafe
Using Alarmio I locked our bikes and we headed straight to the counter to check out the cakes and award the effective cake selection (ECS) score. However before I could complete this task a lady rushed in frantically asking who's bike was beeping. I went to investigate foolishly leaving Andrew alone at the counter. Unfortunately Alarmio had been disturbed by a strong wind and had gone off. Disappointingly I hadn't heard its loud car type alarm but the people in the undercover outside seating area had and it now became a major talking point for the Wiveton Hall cafe clientèle. I reset it before sheepishly going back inside.

On returning to the cakes I was distressed to find that Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please) had ordered a cappuccino plus a beetroot hummus and carrot sandwich but no cake. As a beetroot hummus and carrot sandwich isn't a cake he could play no further part in the cake rating part of our visit. Stepping up to the plate I was now forced to order two cakes to rate myself. The cake selection was excellent and a high ECS was awarded. I went for the chocolate flapjack and a scone with jam.
Cake selection is excellent leading to a high ECS rating
As well as the undercover outdoor seating area there is an outdoor seating area overlooking the marsh with the sea in the distance. As it was a bit cold we decided to forgo the view and sit inside.
Outdoor seating area. With furniture appearing to be decorated
with random left over paint
The Drinks and cakes quickly arrived but there had been controversy over Andrew's sandwich. Despite it clearly stating that lunch was available from 12:00, Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please) had broken all the rules and attempted to order his sandwich at 11:53. Quite rightly he was refused as clearly an early sandwich would cause chaos in the Wiveton Hall Cafe kitchen. Andrew protested and after some negotiation, lasting just over 7 minutes, it was agreed he could have his beetroot hummus and carrot sandwich after all.
Drinks and cakes midway through being reviewed
On my previous visits to Wiveton Hall Cafe both the drinks and cakes had scored highly and today was no exception. The flapjack was particularly good plus there was a lot of it which always goes down well with me. Andrew even liked his cappuccino. In fact I was still eating my flapjack when Andrews beetroot hummus and carrot early sandwich arrived. Not a colour combination I would go for but he thought it tasted jolly nice.
Andrew's (who is notoriously hard to please) colourful
beetroot hummus and carrot sandwich
On the way out I noticed the Wiveton Hall Cafe had built a pizza oven. Last summer I suddenly got the urge to build a pizza oven in our garden, so I did. I was therefore interested in see how they had gone about their oven design and construction. What a good idea, I thought, to knock a hole in the wall and build the pizza oven up against the house. I wish I had done that. I decided with a little work and a sledge hammer I could recreate the same approach at home.

Wiveton Hall Cafe Pizza oven brilliantly built against the side of the cafe.
Wiveton Hall Cafe has scored well in every category on each of the three visits I've made there and has gone straight into my top 3 rated cafes. I highly recommend a visit.

The return ride went smoothly as I was distracted trying to decide which wall would be best to knock a hole in to put my pizza oven against.
My pizza oven before I move it against the house
Ratings based on 3 visits to Wiveton Hall Cafe
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
Map of route

Click here to download 37 mile Alysham Wiveton loop gpx file for your GPS

The fry up inspector has been here too. Click here for his review