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

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Available on Amazon


Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Tough at the top (Earsham Street Cafe, Bungay)

Earsham Street Cafe,
Bungay,
Open 9:00-4:00 7 days a week,
 Highly Recommended

Ever since I first visited the Earsham Street Cafe it has been the Cake Crusader number 1 rated cafe (see second opinion). However I have not returned in 2014 and having now reviewed over 70 cafes and tea rooms since that first visit, I was keen to make sure that it's, and my standards, have been maintained. I imagined that the Earsham Street Cafe staff would have had a sleepless night and nervous morning waiting for my visit. That is if they actually had any idea who I was, if they had known I was coming and if they knew they were top of the Cake Crusader ratings. But they didn't, so they hadn't.

As this was such an important ride I had asked Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please) to be my guest today so as to really put them to the test. As Earsham Street Cafe always seems to be busy we left a bit earlier to avoid the lunch time rush. However this turned out to be a huge mistake.

The ride down was uneventful and we arrived, as planned, at 11:30.
Outside Earsham Street Cafe just before the lunchtime rush
One of the best features at Earsham Street Cafe is that they let you wheel your bikes through to the outdoor seating area at the back. This meant I didn't need to use my Alarmio lock today knowing that the bikes would be safe.
Wheeling bikes through the cafe to the outside seating area
Although the outdoor seating area is very sheltered, being December, we decided to sit in the main indoor area today. We found a table and I got out my fruit based name smart phone device and located the cafe ratings spreadsheet ready for today's critical updating. The first category was effective cake selection (ECS) so we went to check out the cakes which were on display in the window. Although not the biggest selection there was plenty to choose from and they all looked very tempting. Therefore the cake selection was very effective and got a high ECS score consistent with previous visits.
Very effective cake selection, hard to make a choice
It was now time to order and I went for hot chocolate, chocolate and orange cake plus a cheese scone so that I could do an in depth cake taste quality (CTQ) test. Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please) ordered a Cappuccino, lemon drizzle cake and decided he wanted a humus sandwich as well. It was at this point that things started to unwind as the nice waitress pointed out that Andrew couldn't have his humus sandwich as it was part of the lunchtime menu which didn't come into operation until 12 o'clock which was 25 minutes away.

She explained chef was busy preparing for lunch in order to make sure everything was ready and fresh. However Andrew could have a bacon sandwich instead as this was on the breakfast menu. As a faddy vegetarian this didn't do it for him so he declined the offer and just went with cake. 

Obviously such an incident sent Andrew off into a rant but as we are British his rant got directed at me rather than the Earsham Street Cafe staff. His main point seemed a good one; cooking bacon and make it into a sandwich was likely to distract chef from his lunchtime prep far more than slapping a bit of humus on to some bread. I had to agree with him but moaning to me about it wasn't really going to help fulfil his sandwich needs. 

After sometime, not helped by other customers ordering bacon sandwiches, I managed to calm him down and get him re focused on the matter in hand. I was worried the humus sandwich incident (HSI) would affect his rating judgement but as sandwiches form no part of my cafe cycle rating system it was important that this matter was parked for now. Andrew maybe notoriously hard to please but showed great professionalism as we returned to the discuss the atmosphere and ambiance rating.

Our drinks and cakes arrived and all looked very good. The only disappointment was that my cheese scone hadn't been warmed up like I think a cheese scone should be. I didn't like to ask if it could be heated in case it distracted chef further from any pressing lunchtime prep.
Cakes and drinks ready for tasting
The hot chocolate was excellent, nice and thick, a good temperature and very chocolaty. Andrew thought his cappuccino was very nice although could have been slightly stronger for absolute top marks.

I entered all the ratings into the spreadsheet and Earsham Street Cafe was still at the top with just the cake taste quality (CTQ) score to come. However they would still need a very high CTQ rating to hold on to top spot so it was all to play for. With some trepidation we tucked into our cakes. I knew what I thought straight away but from his face I couldn't tell which way Andrew was going to go with his lemon drizzle. I asked what he thought and after the correctly timed dramatic pause he announced that it was a fab-u-lous piece of cake. I also thought the chocolate and orange cake I had was one of the best cakes of this year and despite it not being warm the cheese scone was top draw too. The high CTQ score was entered and the final scores were in.

Despite the HSI and the cold cheese scone the Earsham Street Cafe had actually upped it's average rating by 0.03 to extend it's lead as the Cake Crusader number 1 rated cafe. Andrew, who was obviously feeling guilty about his rant, even left a tip which is unheard of. We both agreed it deserved its number 1 rating and will return next year to see if it can stay at the top for another 12 months.

As I left the cafe an old chap approached me and clearly wanted to engage me in conversation. He asked me the unexpected question of 'do I ring my bell when overtaking dog walkers?' I had to admit I didn't as if he had looked at my bike he would have seen that I didn't actually have a bell and I couldn't help but notice nor he a dog. 

He said I needed to get a bell as when cyclists ride up behind dog walkers going at 30 mph (I assume the cyclist not the dog walker) the dogs can't hear you coming and get spooked. I said that I only wished that I could cycle at 30 mph and was even less likely to be able to by adding the weight and air resistance of a bell to my bike. However I promised to take his advice on board and that I would pass on his request to other cyclists. Therefore instead of my normal guest cyclist top cycling tip a special one off feature.

Complete stranger coming up to you in the street top cycling tip no 1. When going at 30mph on your bike make sure you ring your bell when overtaking dog walkers so as not to spook the dog.

The ride home was hard work as it was into the wind and we never got close to going at 30 mph. This meant that my lack of bell was not an issue and we arrived home with no dogs unnecessarily spooked.

With the final ride of the year completed I now have everything in place for announcing the Cake Crusader 2014 award winners between Christmas and New year.

Ratings for Earsham Street Cafe based on last 3 visits (Last Visited 22nd August 2017)
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
8.83
8.33
8.00
9.0
8.83
8.60
Map of route

Click here to download 40 mile Norwich Bungay loop gpx file for your gps

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