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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Tuesday 23 June 2015

A series of mistakes. (Alfresco Tearoom, Ludham)

Alfresco Tearoom,
Open Every day 10:00-18:00

I always like it when someone contacts me about a cafe or tea room they have visited and recommends that I check it out. This happened a few weeks ago when Martin dropped me a line and said

"opposite Ludham church there is a good cafe called Alfresco tearooms where they serve real tea in a pot with a strainer, well its important to me, and other good stuff too. Open 10-6 7 days". 

Today seemed like a good day to see if Martin was right and a visit to Ludham would also fill a gap in my cafe locations map in the Broadland area. So hopes were high of a top quality cafe cycle ride. However I should have spotted that Martin was a tea drinker whereas my cycling guests today, Chris (wife) plus Barry and Helen and their tandem were all coffee drinkers and this proved to be a critical mistake.

It was a grey and cold day as we set off out through the Norfolk flatlands but as it was mid June I was determined to wear my summer cycling gear. This was my second mistake of the day as I was soon freezing. Chris (wife) had made the same mistake although I got the distinict impression that both her choice of clothing and the coldness of the day were my fault.
Cold and grey Norfolk day
One problem with visiting the broads on a bike is that there are not many roads to chose from as the areas where the roads should be have been taken up by rivers and lakes so it was going to be tricky to find a route that avoided main roads. I had hatched a plan to avoid getting the blame for the route as well as the weather by sneakily asking Barry to plan it for us and I made him acting lead navigator for the day (although he didn't get to wear my special leader hat). 

Despite having to go on a series of busy roads we got to Ludham safely and headed for the church where, exactly as Martin had said, we found Alfresco tearooms opposite it.
Outside Alfresco tearoom looking at Ludham church
Alfresco tearoom is the converted front of a house and once inside we were in what must have been the living room area. There were several tables available and another two in a mini courtyard outdoor seating area, but it was too cold for anyone to be using them today. The décor was traditional tea room with large cheque table clothes, some beams, a welsh dresser etc. It was obviously a popular destination as by the time we left people were waiting for tables. I therefore awarded a good atmosphere and ambiance (AAA) score.

I went to check out the cake selection so that I could award the effective cake selection (ECS) score. Martin had not said what he had thought of the cakes although I assumed they were a subset of the 'other good stuff' he had referred to. There were three nice looking sponge cakes on display. 
3 sponges cakes on display, less blurry in real life
Plus, the 'on wall blackboard style menu system' suggest there were three other types of cake available as well so I awarded a reasonably good ECS score.
on wall blackboard style menu system
I ordered my hot chocolate and some lemon and sultana cake. Chris and Helen had mochas plus chocolate cake and more lemon and sultana cake and Barry went for cappuccino and ploughman's lunch. As a ploughman's lunch is not cake Barry played no further part in any cake rating activity. 

My hot chocolate was good and got a good hot chocolate quality score. The cakes were nice too although we all agreed the lemon and sultana was particularly fine and the better of the two. 
The cakes had been served on a doily which itself was on top of the serviette. At first I didn't know how I felt about  this in terms of my 'keep cake off serviettes campaign' but as the serviette could be removed with out any cake soiling I decided it was ok.
Cake on doily on serviette conundrum
As an aside we all had some form of 'light lunch' which reinforced the 'other good stuff' remark. 

So up to this point everything Martin had said about the Alfresco tea room had been spot on. I just needed to find out what my cycling guests thought about their coffees. Unfortunately this is where things unravelled as all three of them were more than disappointed with their drinks which were exceptionally weak missing any evidence of the key ingredient needed in a good cup of coffee, namely coffee or the chocolate needed in a mocha. There was plenty of froth and milk but this didn't seem to help with their scoring. I was forced to award a rather poor guest hot drink quality (GHDQ) score.
Very weak Mocha with no sign of coffee or chocolate but lots of milk and froth
Unfortunately the GHDQ rating dramatically dragged the Alfresco tearoom score down. However if you are a tea drinker, like Martin or Hot chocolate drinker, like me, then it is worth going on a visit if you are in the area, especially for a light lunch.

On the way back Barry took us down two miles of the A1064 which was particularly unpleasant. I kept pointing out that Barry was lead navigator today but to no avail and it led to days cycling guest cycling top tip from Chris.

Cycling guest cycling top tip No 33. If you have planned a cafe cycle route that goes on busy A roads then, for a more relaxing ride, find a cycling guest who isn't your wife to accompany you.

The rest of the route back was quieter both in terms of roads and criticism but there was still time for me to get a puncture. As an experiment I tried fixing it with a can of puncture fixing spray which you squirt in the valve. It is meant to both seal the hole and inflate the tyre at the same time thus saving you much time and effort. It just about did this and I managed to limp home on a fairly soft tyre without having to change the inner tube. However at over seven quid a can I think I will stick to fixing it properly in future.
About to try out the can of puncture repair spray to fix my puncture
For cafe cycle puncture statistic fans this was my 4th puncture this year but first since February which is a puncture per ride coefficient of 10.5. Not bad.

I have several more recommendations to follow up on but if you know a good venue then please let me have yours, and thanks to Martin for his.

Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
Click here to down load 36 mile Thorpe End Ludham Loop GPX file for your GPS

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