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

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Friday, 21 April 2017

Registration ride 2017. (Stour Space cafe, Stratford and Berwick Tearooms, Dagenham)

Stour Space Cafe,
Stratford,
Every day from 08:00-5:00,
Recommended 
and
Berwick Tearooms,
Dagenham,
Opening times Every day 10:00-4:00 
One thing I enjoy as much as cycling and cake is running races so I'm obviously pleased to be taking part in the London Marathon again this year as it is a jolly big running race. One thing you have to do before taking part, other than the training, is to register at the Excel centre in London.

This gives the ideal opportunity to combine cycling, cake and marathon preparations into a single days activity. To do this I planned to cycle to registration and review a couple of cafes en-route. I obviously won't be cycling all the way from Norwich, I'm not mad, so yesterday myself, with cycling guest Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please), drove to Epping Forest to start a 53 mile cafe cycle marathon registration ride.
About to set off from Epping Forest car park
Most of the first part of the ride went along canals down to the Olympic stadium in Stratford. Although the tracks aren't the smoothest it is traffic free and remarkable that you can go all that way virtually traffic free.
Cycling by the canals
Once at Stratford it was time for first cafe review of the day at Stour Space Gallery Cafe bar. 
Outside Stour Space Gallery Cafe Bar
It was a very bohemian style cafe where the local hipsters hang out. All the other clientele seemed to be doing pointless things on their laptops. While they did that I got out my phone to record the Stour Space Cafe ratings.
View from outside seating terrace area
The cake selection was small but interesting although I noticed the food menu was completely breakfast based, even the sandwiches came in croissants. This is the worst case I have found so far of breakfast time leakage. As far as I'm concerned breakfast should be done and dusted by 9.00am, possibly 9:30am on Sundays, after which all thoughts of fry ups, cereal or pastries should be banished as the mealtime agenda needs to move on to lunch or possibly elevenses and don't get me started or the abomination of Brunch. 
Small but effective cake selection
Despite it being past mid day all the hipsters were having fry up's or bacon butties (in croissants) but I wanted some proper lunch and the best I could manage was a goats cheese croissant and some banana bread, as did Andrew. I had still barely calmed down from the breakfast based menu fiasco when our food arrived; SERVED ON IT'S SERVIETTE!! This problem is more widespread than I thought and my work is clearly not done. Remember #keepcakeoffserviettes.
Banana bread and croissant sandwich served on its serviette
However the food, especially the banana cake, was excellent. Our drinks looked really good and had excellent flavour but heat wise could only be described as tepid at best meaning reduced hot drinks marks.
Nice looking and tasting but not very hot drinks
Surprisingly even with these cafe faux pas's I still found Stour Space Gallery cafe bar a pleasant stop. With a less breakfast based menu, cakes and serviettes kept well apart and drinks made with boiling water it would have been one of the best. I just hope these are not cafe trends that will make there way out of London to Norfolk when we catch up in about 5 years time.

Our journey next continued across less interesting terrain as we cycled through London to the Thames where we found the Excel centre. I quickly popped in for London marathon registration process and collected my running number.
After successful marathon registration
Once completed we headed further East towards Dagenham and Romford. It was mainly on cycle paths including a stretch along cycling superhighway three which was all the more enjoyable as cars were in a long queue beside us.
Andrew cycling on a superhighway
As we reached the countryside we made it to our next stop, The Berwick Tea room which appeared to be about 400 miles too far south. 
Outside the Berwick tearoom
It was a fairly small brick building with a terrace outside. I noticed that inside it was packed with ladies having afternoon tea. Like a scene from a wild west salon, as we entered the chit chat immediately stopped and the ladies all glared at us. We got the feeling that men were not meant to enter the tea room area. We tried to order some cake and drinks but the lady refused to take our order and ushered us out to the terrace area where she said she would come and see us shortly. It was clear she was trying to save our embarrassment as we had broken all their rules by being in the ladies afternoon tea area uninvited and our place to eat and drink was outside. As we left there was a great deal of tutting before the chitter chatter picked up again. 
The 'ladies only tea and chatter' seating area
We sat outside and the lady came to take our order. I think we were a bit of a novelty as every few minutes a different lady came out of the kitchen with some excuse to see us. I don't think many men had ever braved the Berwick Tea rooms before and we obviously were a bit of a novelty.
The terrace area where the ladies seem to prefer the men to sit
The only coffee option on the menu was frothy coffee so Andrew went for tea. On the cake front we went for traditional coffee cake and chocolate cake. Not surprisingly our drinks came in china cups and saucers.
Drinks in an eclectic selection of china
The drinks were hotter than this morning's but not quite as nice. The cake was very nice with the coffee cake being the better of the two.
Chocolate and coffee cakes
The Berwick tearoom was definitely at the far end of the tearoom continuum (which is fine with me) and targeted more at a natterer than a cyclist as we had finished our refreshments before any of the ladies inside had left. However everyone was very friendly and we enjoyed our break.

The last few miles were fairly hilly and my legs questioned me as to if this was good marathon preparation.I told them I wasn't sure and would let them know sometime on Sunday which seemed to keep them happy. 

Scores for Stour Space Cafe
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
7.50
7.5
5.00
7.5
8.00
7.10
Scores for Berwick Tearoom
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
6.0
6.5
6.00
7.25
7.00
6.55
Route


Click here to download 54 mile Walton Abbey Thames loop GPX file for your gps

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