Lets find a Cafe (or tearoom)

Lets find a Cafe (or tearoom)

Locations of reviewed cafes

I

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Cycle cafe project time. (Cafe No. 28, Holt)

No. 28 cafe,
Holt,
Opening times Mon-Sat 08:30-16:00

For today's cafe cycle ride I was targeting two of my current cafe cycle projects:
  1. The destination was Cafe No. 28 in Holt, which as a numbered cafe, would add to my attempt to go to all numbered named cafes from 1 to 100. 
  2. Holt is a destination where I have visited a lot of cafes, as given the opportunity Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please) will always take me there if I offer him a free hand to arrange a route. This meant that today there would potentially be several Holt cafes I could pick up sausage rolls from as part of my search for Sausage Roll Of The Year (SROTY). 
So I arranged to meet Andrew, at Hard to Please House in Alysham, for a ride to Holt to tackle these two objectives. As a bonus, Chris (Mrs Crusader) came along as she continued to get used to her new bike.

The ride from Alysham to Holt goes through some lovely peaceful Norfolk countryside. However today the peace was shattered. First Andrew was ranting about how; since I gave him the notoriously hard to please tag he had to rant even more as people now expected it.(So he did). But the main peace breaker was from Mrs Crusaders new bike that had developed an annoying mystery squeak, the source of which still remains elusive despite much investigation during the ride. ( Although I remain confident that some WD40 and my big hammer will get it fixed back in my secret bike workshop under Crusader Towers).

With my head throbbing, we arrived at Holt and I went to pick up my first sausage roll from the Owl Tearooms. But disaster as it was shut for refurbishment as it is moving under new management.
What no sausage roll
Undeterred it was off to the main event at No. 28 on the high street. When we arrived the very friendly staff told us a good place to park our bikes which we did, before going through the two table outdoor seating area into the cafe. 
In the outdoor seating area at No.28 before going to lock the bikes
Inside was a very modern interior where we selected a table near the window. The cake selection was a reasonable one with several sponge cakes, slices and scones, so I awarded a reasonable effective cake selection (ECS) rating.
The sponge cake part of the cake selection
I was pleased to see sausage rolls on the menu so I would be able to get my Holt SROTY search underway but before I could the people in front of us bought the last ones. I was beginning to worry that the SROTY part of today's mission would be a waste of time. 

Our drinks (Hot Chocolate, Mocha and Cappuccino) soon arrived which were all nice but we felt needed to be a bit stronger for top marks. 
Hot drink selection
These were followed by a good selection of the sponge cakes (Victoria, Lemon and carrot) which my cycling guests let me try all of before I decided my choice of Victoria sponge was the best.
The three sponge cakes on offer
With the cafe visit complete I added No. 28 to my numbered named cafe album only to find I already had a No. 28 from the Cotswolds that I had visited on my ride across Great Britain a couple of years ago. I therefore now have a No. 28 swap that I'm happy to exchange with other numbered named cafe collectors who have a spare numbered cafe visit as well.

On the SROTY front I was relieved to find that Byfords had plenty and I was also able to snap up the last one at Horatio's before we left Holt again for our ride back.
Collecting Holt based sausage rolls
Back home I tested out the sausage rolls which were two of the best I have tried so far and could well make it all the way to the SROTY sausage roll off at the end of the year. 
The Byfords and Horatio's sausage rolls
Scores
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
5.5
6.0
6.0
6.5
7.0
6.20
Route

Click here to download 32 Mile Alysham Holt loop GPX file for your GPS

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Too short. (The Pantry Wroxham Barns, Wroxham)

The Pantry Wroxham Barns,
Wroxham,
Opening times Mon-Sun 10:00-17:00 
As it was Valentines day, I thought what better way to celebrate than with a romantic cafe cycle ride, after all I love my bike. To make up the numbers I also invited Chris (Mrs Crusader) and Barry and Helen and a tandem.

Regular readers may remember that Barry and Helen got themselves a shiny new tandem in December but as yet it hadn't made it out of the garage and I was beginning to think it may only exist in their imaginations. The main excuse for its lack of appearance was that they didn't want to get it dirty in the current wintery conditions. With today being near perfect for cycling, I was optimistic that I would finally get to see it in action. So as we arrived at the meeting point would the new tandem be waiting there?

Once again it was a resounding NO! Apparently Barry still wasn't happy to take it out as he didn't feel he had attached his bell at the right angle yet and it needed further adjustments before he could safely hit the road, so I would just have to be patient.

Recently the weather has been freezing and there has been much whinging and whining from my cycling guests.

Cycling guest cycling top tip No. 60When cycling in cold conditions you can avoid frozen extremities by making sure your cycling host has not made the route too long.

I consider myself to be an excellent cycling host so had taken on board cycling gust cycling top tip No. 60 by making todays ride a short one. This meant that it wasn't long before we got to today's destination The Pantry at Wroxham Barns.

However today was not particularly cold and there was a warm sun in the clear blue sky. To my disbelief my cycling guests all complained that we hadn't gone very far on such a lovely day and asked if we could go a bit further. As a man known for my dynamic and flexible approach I would have loved to follow up on this suggestion but February's cafe visit planning spreadsheet clearly said that this was to be today's cafe destination and I didn't want to spend the afternoon filling in the necessary forms to authorise a cafe venue change request review (CVCRR), so I had to insist we stuck to the plan.
The Pantry at Wroxham Barns
As it was half term I was dismayed to see how full the Wroxham Barns car park was and expected to have difficulty getting a space in the cafe. Fortunately we had timed things well for once and got inside just before the lunchtime rush. In fact five minutes after we sat down the empty cafe was suddenly full of half termees. As the cafe filled up with fun loving toddlers Barry kept requesting that the atmosphere and ambiance score be reduced, which I obviously ignored.
A very full pantry with its target age group
There was a reasonable cake selection but best of all there were sausage rolls available for me to test out in sausage roll of the year (SROTY).
A reasonable cake selection plus scones plus sausage rolls
We all had sausage rolls while I also had some marble cake and Chris a chocolate cup cake muffin thing. On the drinks front my cycling guests had mochas and cappuccino.
Cakes, drinks and sausage rolls
I wasn't overly impressed with my hot chocolate, although it was a solid enough example, so was astounded when all the coffee drinkers said their coffees were really good attracting a very high guest hot drink quality (GHDQ) score.

Our cakes were ok but a little dry for high marks. Barry, who considers himself a bit of a sausage roll authority, gave todays example the thumbs up as I added our ratings to the SROTY spreadsheet on my phone.

On reviewing my cafe ratings table I was interested to notice that The Pantry had scored in line with a number of other cafes I have been to at local attractions so was pleased to see both the consistency of my rating system and the improved standard of attraction catering when compared with experiences from my youth.
Junior farm timetable
Before we set off Barry pointed to the Junior farm timetable on the wall and asked if he could go and cuddle a rabbit. Sadly the queue of 5 year olds was a bit too long so I suggested he came back on a quieter day, which he reluctantly agreed to do as we returned to our bikes for the short ride home. Hopefully he can spend the time he saved by adjusting his bicycle bell on the mythical new tandem so that we can actually get to see it in action on our next ride.

Scores
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
5.5
8.0
7.0
6.0
4.5
6.20
Route


Click here to down load 26 mile Norwich Tunstead loop GPX file for your GPS

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Sick note. (Art House Cafe, Cromer)

Art House Cafe,
Cromer,
Opening times Mon-Sat 10:00-17:00,
Sun 11:00-15:00
Recommended 
You may remember that Mrs Crusader had recently got a new bike. Sadly it still hasn't made it out on to the road as she is yet to find a cycling outfit that matches it's colour. However today looked like being the day that the rubber would finally hit the tarmac as I had arranged a ride with Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please) to visit Cromer which is one of her favourite destinations.

Unfortunately when we awoke this morning it was a bit rainy. After peering out of the window Mrs Crusader didn't look keen on coming along in these conditions and I was soon presented with a note from her mother saying she had tummy ache and should be let off cycling today. I was a little suspicious but before I could remind her that her mother lived over 200 miles away and had actually died several years ago she had headed back to bed. 

I decided it was best to leave her there while I headed off to meet Andrew at Hard to Please House for the start of the ride.

It was a dull and raining day and after we had cycled for a few miles we were a bit cold and wet. I decided to take a photo to show blog readers the tough conditions I'm prepared to battle through in the search for cake. 
Cold and wet conditions
I looked at the photo and decided it would be better if I was in it, so I passed my phone to Andrew and asked if he could take the picture for me. I got into position and waited to be snapped. Andrew lifted the phone to his eye before turning white as he froze whilst staring at the screen. I asked him what was wrong and he said I had become invisible. This seemed unlikely so I asked him to have another go. He tried again but apparently I was still missing from the screen when he pointed the phone at me. I then realised he was actually looking at the photo I had just taken and hadn't put the phone into camera mode yet, which was a great disappointment as I had always hoped that I had some wizard blood in me.
Cold and wet conditions plus me
We set off again and continued to pedal through the drizzly rain until we arrived at the Art House Cafe in Cromer where we locked our bikes and went inside to the gallery style coffee shop. 
Inside the Art House cafe featuring an Art installation called 'wet cycling old man'
There was a nice selection of cakes so I awarded a good effective cake selection (ECS) mark. Andrew asked if there was any savoury offerings but there was only toasted crumpet with marmite available in that department so he went for a portuguese tart instead. I stayed traditional with my choice of Victoria sponge.
Good cake selection
As this was only a cake and coffee outlet there were no sausage rolls available so I couldn't add to my search for Sausage Roll of the Year or SROTY (pronounced sroty).

We sat by the window surrounded by very pleasant local seaside based art in the driftwood and seagulls corner. Our drinks and cakes soon arrived and were of a high quality leading to good cake and drinks marks. Andrew thought his portuguese tart was nice but wasn't as good as the one he had had on a recent trip to Lisbon, which I think he only said so he could remind me about his recent trip to Lisbon. 
Good quality cakes and drinks
The Art House Cafe was a good stop with nice cakes and drinks and just what we needed to refuel us on such a cold and wet day (unlike the weather you get in Lisbon, I was informed). I recommend a visit, especially for fans of seaside based art.

I was still disappointed not to have a new entry for SROTY but fortunately the rules of the competition say that a sausage roll can come from any establishment that I was either visiting or had previously visited meaning that I was able to pop into the nearby Rocket House cafe to pick a couple of sausage rolls up which I could review when I got home.
Outside Rocket House cafe
It was raining a bit harder on the return trip so we spent most of the time trying not to get wet. Much to Andrews excitement we agreed that our next ride would be to his favourite destination, Holt, where we would not only try a new cafe but hover up the local sausage rolls from all my previously visited cafes there. 

On my return home Mrs Crusader suddenly made a miraculous recovery as she volunteered to help with SROTY judging of the Rocket House cafe's offering.

Scores
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
7.25
7.0
6.5
7.0
7.5
7.05
Route

Click here to download 27 mile Alysham Cromer loop GPX file for your gps