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/

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Friday, 11 July 2014

Penalty shoot out. (Hererg de Bonged, Bassel and D'hefren vanBafrlo,Baarlo)

Search for Best Café in Europe 2014
Day 4
Today was the last ride in Holland meaning it was the final opportunity to find their best cafe and become leader of the Cake Crusader European cafe of the year 2014. I was going to make sure that no stone was left unturned in making sure we had two top contenders for today. Therefore myself and Barry (with input from Helen and their tandem) held an in depth pre ride brainstorm and planning session.
Pre ride planning session
As we set off there was still orange bunting and flags draped around the villages we cycled through but, whereas yesterday they had represented the joy and hope of a nation, today, after their semi final lose in the penalty shoot out with Argentina, they looked sad and forlorn and desperate to be taken down. This is the cruel world of the penalty shoot out. However as we are English we were used to it and therefore didn't care and were too busy enjoying our ride anyway.
Orange bunting and flags outside virtually every house
On the way to the first planned stop we passed a famous windmill. We knew it was famous as it said so in signs in Dutch and on the map I had. No one knew why it was famous but I took a photo all the same. Perhaps it had a little mouse with clogs on in it like most windmills in these parts.
Famous Dutch windmill but no idea why
First stop was in Bassel where we would have a choice of cafés. I referenced my Dutch village check-list: big church tick, near central square tick, with bandstand tick, must be some cafe bars near by tick. There were so we chose Hererg de Bonged as it had the best beer sign.
Outside the side outdoor seating area.
Later we found an internal courtyard outdoor seating area
Once again only Chocomel to represent hot chocolate on the drinks list so I was forced along the local Trappist beer road. I was pleased I did as it was very good and had gone almost as soon as it arrived. We all agreed this was excellent beer and scored it appropriately.
Very good local Trappist beer
Whilst consensus had been found with regards the drinks then the food caused real controversy and a near fight broke out between Barry and Chris. Once again Holland's national dish of spek and kass (bacon and cheese to you) pancakes were on offer. Four of the party selected these but when Chris claimed they were better than at yesterday's stop Barry had a fit and a rant claiming the cheese was over cooked and yesterdays were far superior. The argument went on for sometime and with Chris about to break her chair over Barry's head I decided to step in and restore the peace by sensibly giving them the same score as yesterday and calling it a draw.
Controversial pancakes, Were they better here or at yesterdays stop?
There was only one way to find out
The Hererg de Bonged in Bassel had done well in each category but with only a standard Dutch village square view it could not become best cafe in Europe 2014 but it did make it into the top 3.

We Set off again testing out all the Dutch bike infrastructure could throw at us. Cycle paths by big roads, cycle paths by small roads, cycle paths through woods and even cycle paths across rivers (via ferries packed with bikes) all of which were signposted and well used. One day I hope we have such a network back in Norfolk.
Ferry crossing full of cyclists
After another of these ferry crossing we came to our second planned stop at the D'hefren van Bafrlo cafe on the outskirts of Baarlo. 
Outside the D'herfren van Barfrlo about to see if it could take the lead to
 become Norfolk Cafe Cycle Tout European cafe year 2014
It had the nicest view of any European cafe to date as it overlooked the river crossing and town. This gave it the best ambiance rating so far meaning that if it could do well in food and drink it could become the leader for the Cake Crusader cafe of the year 2014.
Splendid view from outdoor patio seating area at cafe bar
It had a good chance as despite only Chocomel again as it's hot chocolate offering it had the same local Trappist beer that scored so well at lunch time. We therefore ordered it but to everyone's disappointment it was the bottled and not draft variety and it tasted pretty average leading to a poor drinks score.
Inferior bottle Trappist beer
Still a 10 out of 10 on the desserts would get D'hefren van Bafrlo cafe to the number one spot. As we waited for the fruit pies and ice creams to turn up you could feel the same tension as there had been in the campsite bar waiting for the outcome of the World Cup penalty shoot out. Most of the desserts hit the back of the net. Cherry pie - Goal, chocolate sundae - Goal, apricot meringue type thing - Goal, Blueberry cheesecake - Goal. It just needed Helen's fruit sundae surprise to score and put D'hefren van Bafrlo to the top of the league. Sadly the surprise was that the fruit was out of a tin rather then the fresh selection of local berries she had expected and it was blasted over the bar for a big- Miss!
Desserts lining up for a puddingy shoot out
Once again it had not turned out well for the locals as D'hefren van Bafrlo could also only manage equal third place.

I thought that was the end of the ratings but on announcing the final platings there was again controversy. Apparently everyone but me thought the vastly overrated central cafe Baarlo was better than it had been rated at and should be in second place. Normally I would dismiss this input and politely suggest they set up their own spreadsheets. However as central cafe Baarlo had been the first cafe we had gone to I agreed to moderate the scores and accepted that the giant toasties and strawberry waffles had been the best food all week and increased its food rating to put it back into second place.

The ride back felt long and hard and we were all tired after out 42.5 mile double cafe bonanza final day ride. I was however happy that we had done everything possible to check out the best cafés in the whole of the Netherlands (that were within a 20 mile radius of our campsite). I was especially happy that we had made the effort to go to Morgenstond, Griendtsveen in the rain yesterday as this is now considered the best cycle cafe in the whole of Europe. And I've been there!

Next week I return to traditional Norfolk cafe cycle reviewing before once again heading back to Europe to see if there is an even better cycle cafe anywhere.

European cafe ratings after reviewing all the Netherlands has to offer (that were within a 20 mile radius of our campsite).
Morgenstond cafe, Griendtsveen, NL
Central cafe, Baarlo
Hererg de Bonged, Bessel
D'Hefren van Bafrlo, Baarlo, NL
De Ijsvogel (kingfisher mill to you), Arcen,NL
Passi cafe, Horst,
Dakepello, Panningen

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