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

Friday 23 September 2016

Bad back. (Farmhouse Kitchen, Wortwell)

Farmers Kitchen (at the Dove),
Opening times Tue-Sat from 08:30-16:30,
Sun 10:00-12:30

I hadn't seen Big George since just before he was due to come with me on my search for the best mountain top cafe in Italy. I had just finished showing him the profiles of the mountain rides I had planned for the trip when he went down with a mystery bad back injury and had to cry off (see Monte Grappa cycling adventure). 

Miraculously the bad back seemed to clear up the day I arrived safely in Italy and he was now back on his bike and ready to ride again. We therefore had much to catch up on as I was keen for him to know about the 'fun' he had missed out on by not cycling up steep mountain tracks. He claimed to have read the posts from my trip but despite his protests I felt obliged to go through a day by day account. In a futile attempt to distract me Big George manufactured a puncture but it didn't work.
Big George attempting to change the subject with a puncture
As Big George reluctantly listened to my stories his only interaction was to ask how much further it was to the cafe, which came two thirds into the ride. I ignored him and pressed on with my stories regardless.

After a couple of hours I had got to the end of my tales, just as we arrived at the Farmhouse Kitchen Cafe (at  the Dove) near Wortwell, which is also a farm shop.
Outside the Farmhouse kitchen cafe
It is a recently converted pub so we were able to push our bikes round the back to the old beer garden area, which is now a nice outdoor seating terrace area, where we could safely leave our bikes.
Outdoor seating terrace area
I went through a large indoor seating area to check out the cake selection. It was rather disappointing as there was only a carrot cake and brownies. I asked the friendly staff if there were any other cakes and as luck would have it I was informed there was now an interesting sounding rhubarb and custard cake available. Despite this exciting news I could only award a low effective cake selection (ECS) score.

We went back to our seats in the outdoor seating area where our order was taken by the excellent waitress service, we both opted for some of the rhubarb and custard cake plus hot chocolate for me and a filter coffee for Big George.
Hot drinks
My hot chocolate was pretty good although could have been slightly hotter. Big George thought his coffee very good indeed so gave a high Guest Hot Drink Quality (GHDQ) mark.

Everything was going well until the rhubarb and custard cake turned up. To my horror it was served on it's serviette. I have noticed how many new establishments seem to think this is a good idea but it isn't as it renders the napkin useless for crumb wiping purposes. However to make matters worse the cake came with an extra serviette, presumably as they realised the first one would be ruined, meaning the one on the plate now served no purpose whatsoever and was a criminal waste of serviettes. Remember #keepcakeoffserviettes,
Cake served on its napkin. ARGHHHHHH!!
Once I had calmed down from the cake and serviette situation (and puffed on my TUE inhaler) the cake was actually rather good, making a nice change from the normal big five sponges, and scored well for cake taste quality (CTQ). As an aside the cheese on toast I had for my lunch and eggy bread Big George had were excellent too.

The Farmers Kitchen cafe proved to be an excellent cycle stop as not only was there somewhere to put your bike safely but the food and drink were of a high quality too. They even brought us some free perfectly drinkable tap water in a nice bottle.
Perfectly drinkable tap water
Hopefully the cake selection will get expanded (and be severed separately from its serviette) but even if it isn't I still recommend a visit.

As it was the first ride Big George had had for a while it was no surprise to see him fading on the way home although apparently his back was starting to go again.

Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating

Map of route
Click here to download 49 mile Norwich Bungay loop GPX file for your GPS

Thursday 8 September 2016

Catch up. (No. 33 Cafe Bar, Norwich)

No 33 Café Bar,
Opening times Mon-Fri from 08:00-17:00,
Sat 09:00-17:00, Sun 10:30-16:30
Highly Recommended 
It had been a while since I had been on a cafe visit with Mr X or added to my collection of cafes numbered one to a hundred. But today this was about to change as, with the aid of encrypted messages, I had arranged to meet Mr X at No 33 cafe bar in Norwich. It would also be the seventh numbered cafe in my collection.

You may recall that Mr X should really be at work creating shareholder value rather than out rating cake so his identity must be kept a secret at all times to 
a. stop the possibility of a run on a large insurance companies share price
b. stop getting Mr X into trouble.

With everything in place and the sun in the sky I set out on my 'about town bike' for the short ride to No 33. Mr X was waiting outside, in disguise, but once he had revealed himself to me we went in.
Waiting outside No 33 Cafe bar for Mr X to reveal himself
I had been warned that No 33 can be busy so I was please that we were able to secure a seat in the downstairs section, there is an upstairs area too but sadly no outdoor seating However the place had a nice vibe so we awarded a high atmosphere and ambience (AAA) score.

The cake selection was very impressive with a large number of big cakes and interesting looking slices. It was going to be hard to choose which one to have so I awarded a very high effective cake selection (ECS) rating.
Impressive cake selection
It is a waitress service scenario here but when she arrived to take our order I still hadn't made my mind up as to which cake to have. In these situations I always ask the waitress to list the options and go for what ever the third one she says is (but only after she has listed them all) which I did and it was the Chocolate Orange one. Being a part of the world of big business Mr X was for more decisive with his Coffee and Walnut selection. He also decided to have a cup of fancy tea.
Cakes and drinks arrive
while Mr X shows the how to lift the cup correctly not using his little finger
My hot chocolate was very nice, with a good chocolate taste but needed to be a bit hotter for really top marks.

I explained to Mr X that as he had opted for tea I would be capping his Guest Hot Drink quality (GHDQ) score to 7 as that is the most a cup of tea could get as after all it is just a cup of tea. He looked at me as if I was mad. I put up my hands in a defensive manner 'I don't make the rules' I said before remembering that actually I did but I stuck with it before he eventually gave his tea a 6.

We both thought our cakes tasted every bit as good as they looked with good moistness and texture so awarded a high cake taste quality marks (CTQ)

Despite Mr X's GHDQ score No 33 had a very high overall rating and goes into my current cafe top 10 and I highly recommend a visit. 

On the way out I purchased some Flapjack as part of my hunt for flapjack of the year and not surprisingly it was jolly nice too. I hope to update on progress on this in the next couple of weeks.

By opting for fancy tea I was worried that Mr X had not really allowed No 33 a fair crack of the whip on the GHDQ stakes. Fortunately I knew that later that evening Mrs Crusaders book club were meeting round at Crusader towers and that several of them had had coffee at No 33 in the past.

When I got home I asked if an agenda item, presumably under AOB, could be added to that nights meeting in order that I could enquire of the group their views on the coffee at No. 33. I was somewhat taken aback to find that the book club operates without an agenda or indeed any form of documented governance. Apparently it is free format nattering and I could pop in anytime with my question. Which, after waiting for a very long time for a suitable gap in the conversations (none of which was book related), I did and was told the coffee at No 33 was excellent. So, although the rules don't allow for the GHDQ mark to be changed retrospectively, I feel it is important for you to know this when making your next cafe cycle venue choice (CCVC).

Scores from 2 visits. Last visit 04/11/2021
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating

Wednesday 7 September 2016

Norwich to St Andrews cycle ride update.

Norwich to St Andrews
Ride latest news

It is now just over a month until myself and Chris (Mrs Crusader) set off on our sponsored ride along national cycle route1 from Norwich to St Andrews. 

You may recall this trip came about as a result of Chris being lady captain at the local golf club this year. Apart from giving her the opportunity to play even more golf, then being lady captain also gives her the opportunity to raise money for her favourite charity. Obviously her favourite charity is bicycle related being world bicycle relief (WBR). The money raised provides specially designed, locally assembled bikes to students and healthcare workers in rural Africa; connecting them with education, healthcare and economic opportunities. Click here for video about WBR

Pretending I was keen to offer support I said I would help in the fund raising by organising a sponsored bike ride for her but I obviously had an additional motive. She eagerly accepted my offer so she could concentrate on golf related activities and therefore walked straight into my trap. As well as raising money for a great cause it would be an excellent opportunity for some cafe cycle reviewing activity as well. I have never reviewed any cafe, or tearoom, above the Wash and I'm not sure what the cafe culture is like up North. I therefore came up with a plan for us to ride from her Golf Club in Bawburgh to St Andrews golf club in Scotland. After some research I found it was only a 574 mile ride which could mainly be done on national cycle route 1. I was sure that we could knock it off in a week or so and visit a good 10-20 cafes for good measure.

It transpired that her idea of a sponsored cycle (100ish miles over a day) and mine were an order of magnitude out in length but after pointing out the golf theme of the ride she agreed to give it a go. 

Planning is nearly complete with the route sorted (see map below) and accommodation booked. I am now starting to research some good cafes to visit and review (any suggestions welcomed). I have also purchased some rather clever bags so we can hopefully carry everything with out the need of a rack, panniers or a rucksack, apparently mainly on my bike.
My bike with 5 different frame bags
Chris's bike with small bag carrier on the front
Golfing activities is making the amount of training required more difficult for one of us which should at least make the drama of seeing if we actually get there or not more exciting.
Out on training ride in team kit
If anyone would like to sponsor this great cause and encourage Mrs Crusader to spend more time on her bike and less on the golf course then you can do so here. Your help will be really appreciated. 


Saturday 3 September 2016

Turkey time. (Waveney Gallery Coffee shop. Dickleburgh)

Waveney Gallery Coffee Shop,
Opening times Wed- Sun from 10:00-17:00
I had a double mission for today's cafe cycle ride. First was to try out a cafe near Dickleburgh, and second to take a short division to check out a new venue I thought I had recently spotted in the distance on a previous ride. I was joined by Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please) as today's cycling guest.

The route down was a bit windy but also very successful. I was able to give Andrew a pedal stroke by pedal stroke up date on my recent trip to find the best summit cafe in the Dolomite's and he was able to rant on a wide number of things that have been annoying him on the news recently. I can now tune out while Andrew rants so I can't tell you what he was currently upset about.

I was excited to find that the place I thought I had spotted was in fact the Farmers Kitchen at the old Dove pub near Alburgh (neither of which I was aware of before today) and was indeed a cafe. I could see cake as I peered through the window so I made a note to return soon as I have pretty much exhausted cafes to visit in that area. It was then on to Dickleburgh where we found the Waveney Gallery Coffee shop at Blacksmith Nursery and Shorelands wildlife gardens. 
Outside the Entrance to the coffee shop and wildlife gardens
It was the last day of the school holidays so the Wildlife gardens, and thus the cafe had not surprisingly attracted lots of small children.  More of a surprise was the group of turkeys who had also appeared to have decided to visit today and they were hanging out in the outdoor seating area. They were clearly also keen cyclists as they came over to check out our bikes even though they had clearly not cycled here themselves.
Andrew showing the turkeys his bike
We went inside to check out the cakes and their was a reasonable selection of 4 cakes and both types of scone so I awarded a reasonable effective cake selection (ECS) rating. I went for chocolate cake with my hot chocolate and Andrew Bakewell cherry cake with a pot of tea. As it was lunch time we also cheese sandwiched.
Part of the cake selection
We went back outside where the turkeys were now mingling with the school children however once our sandwiches arrived they came back to see us and tried to nick our food. I told them to get their own but they wouldn't take no for an answer. I had to resort to shouting 'only 103 more shopping days to Christmas' at them which seemed to do the trick as they hurried off asking each other if they knew what Christmas was, they will find out soon enough.
The turkeys wanting to join us for lunch
Although I only normal comment on cakes and drinks, the cheese sandwiches must get a special mention as we both agreed they were some of the finest we have enjoyed on our rides. My hot chocolate was good but could have been a bit hotter and Andrews pot of tea was, well a pot of tea so got the standard 7 for a guest hot drink quality (GHDQ) when it's tea.
Cakes and drinks
Both our cakes were very good, light and moist so got a high cake taste quality (CTQ) score.

The Waveney Gallery coffee shop was a nice stop with good cakes and drinks. If you like wildlife gardens (unseen by us) and/or turkeys then you will especially like it here and I recommend a visit.

The ride back was going smoothly until Andrew told me, probably in confidence, a terrible confession. He currently couldn't see why he needed more than one bike (he currently only has 3) and had no plans to buy a new one and might even reduce numbers as one of the turkeys had made him an offer for his single speed. This is not the mantra of a cyclist who knows the correct number of bikes you need is one more than you currently have. I suggested he seek professional help before our next ride. As soon as I got home I read the latest bike reviews in cycling weekly. At least one of us is normal I thought.
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating

Click here to download 53 mile Norwich Dickleburgh loop gpx file for your GPS