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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Sunday, 6 July 2014

Going Dutch. (Central cafe, Baarol, and Dakepello cafe, Panningen)

Search for Best Café in Europe 2014
Day 1
If I'm ever to become a world renowned cycle cafe reviewer then I feel it's important that I get more experience of the art from a wider perspective. With this in mind I plan to spend some of this summer checking out the cycle cafe scene across Europe. 

At the end of the various trips I have planned I will be in the position to crown the Cake Crusader European cafe of the year 2014 as well as improve my overall cycle cafe rating skills.

For the first expedition I packed a tent, family and guest reviewers Barry and Helen and their tandem into the car and headed straight for the Netherlands where cycling and cafés are a way of life.

After pitching our tents we headed to the bar for a relaxing drink and to prepare for the coming days cycle cafe reviewing. Shockingly we found the bar area packed with noisy Dutch people cheering on their team in the World Cup quarter finals vs Costa Rica. We spent the evening hoping Costa Rica would score so we would get some peace. Sadly they didn't.
Dutch football fans adding a lot of noise to our quite drink plans
In the morning I checked the forecast which suggested sun in the morning and rain later so I decided we needed to set off earlish. Barry and Helen and their tandem had been to this part of Holland before and so I put them in charge of routes. For the first trip they had planned a 30 mile double stop spectacular so with Chris (wife), Peter (son) and George (son) we set off.

The first thing one notices is that there are many more cycle paths and cyclists in this part of the world. For some reason though the Dutch seem to like to cobble their smaller roads and so combined with the wind against the first part of the ride went slowly.

We eventually arrived at the first stop, Central cafe in Baaralo. Back in the UK you get a wide range of possible potential stops. At one end of the refreshment option continuum is the spit and sawdust pub whilst at the other is the oldey worldey tea shop. Here nearly every establishment fits right in the middle of the refreshment option continuum and would be described as a cafe bar. 
Outside the Central cafe in the centre of Baarol
This meant that home-made cake was not on offer and the preferred drink was Trappist beer rather than hot chocolate or coffee. To over come this I referred to the international guide to cafe cycle reviewing from my library of made up books. It suggested the following simplified scoring system for use on the continent. Just rate drink, food and ambiance. Drink had to either be Trappist beer or a hot drink. People selecting standard drinks like fizzy water, coke, juice or larger would take no part in the drink rating part of cycle cafe reviewing as these things always tasted the same.
Sitting in under cover out door seating area awaiting service
The central cafe had excellent Trappist beer (draft Grimberger) and a nice selection of sweet or savoury snacks. We selected chicken burgers and giant toasties. 
Food and drink being tested
The sandwiches were very good and left us all with a pudding dilemma. Should we have the tempting looking strawberry waffle here or take a chance and have dessert at the second stop. Myself and Chris decided to take the gamble while others played it safe and had the waffles here. 
Excellent desserts
Despite my protests that the ambiance lacked something, as the Central cafe over looked the car park, the others all liked the feel of the place. Barry thought the ambiance was good as the car park became a market on a Thursday but as today wasn't Thursday I didn't really know why this was relevant from an ambiance perspective. 

Overall the central cafe in Baarol scored well with a score of 7.67 and set a high bar for the rest of Europe to live up to.

We set off to our next destination and on the way passed through several villages each with lots of cafés. You soon get to realise that the set up is always the same. Village square by big church with bandstand type thing in the middle and cafés round the outside. Very hard to tell the villages apart with déjà vu working overtime. We got to Panningen and found the requisite row of cafés. We selected Dakepello as it had most people sitting in the compulsory continental style outdoor seating area.
Standing by compulsory seating area outside Dakepello cafe
The beer here wasn't very good but they did have a choice of apple or strawberry flans. Unfortunately the dessert gamble had not paid off as the consensus was that the flans were not as good as the waffles at the central cafe Baarol. 

Nice flans but not up to the Central cafe, Baarol standard
I also thought it was time to try a Dutch hot chocolate and was very disappointed with the milky offering I was presented with. The ambiance wasn't great here either as the only view was of other cafés and modern shops as well as it being very noisy.
Disappointing Dutch hot chocolate
If the central cafe Baarol set the bar high then the Dakepello had little difficulty limbo dancing under it.

The ride back to camp was un eventful as we were trying to get back before it started to rain, which it did in spades soon after our return. The forecast tomorrow is good so hopefully further cafés will be visited so I can continue my quest to find European's finest.

European league table after 2 cafés.   
Cafe                              Drink Food    Ambiance.  Score
Central cafe, Baarlo         8   8                7        7.67
Dakepello, Panningen 5 6.5               5        5.50

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