Friday, 21 September 2012

Cafe, Stratford Garden Centre, Clifford Chambers

This is the small cafe attached to the Lime Tree Restaurant which serves the ubiquitous light lunch fare - sandwiches, baguettes, paninis, jacket potatoes and cakes. The setting is quite eclectic. The seating area is bordered by a fake box hedge and one wall has a mural of a misty house and garden, all drooping greenery and soft focus. Access is superb, plenty of room to move and even the restaurant has a nifty little ramp.

The food is fine but nothing spectacular. I had a toasted cheese and ham baguette. This was quite a small baguette but did contain thick slices of ham and is the only establishment I have been to that serves a mature cheddar - you can clearly taste and smell the sharp tang of it, even when melted. Side salad is a reasonable portion, but is only heavily drizzled leaves and half a tomato. Drew had the jacket potato with tuna. Not the largest of potatoes - about palm-sized or a tiny bit bigger but generously filled. My latte was served in a cup and saucer clearly modelled on the Villeroy and Boch New Wave design*. The saucer had an artful uptilt and the handle of the mug a curious Mobius twist. The latte was lovely - hot, creamy and plenty of it.

Latte: *****
Access: *****

* But it isn't actually Villeroy and Boch. Yes, faithful bloggee, I turned over the saucer and looked. And everyone saw me do it. Drew is still in shock from my unspeakable bad manners.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Yew Tree Cafe, Yew Tree Craft Centre, Wootton Wawen

This is a small place hidden away in the Craft Centre, in Wootton Wawen. Which is a nice village but one of those places which always sounds like you are mispronouncing it; like 'Wapping'. Judging by the vaulted ceiling and the plethora of wood, I would guess a converted barn, very rustic interior with wooden tables and chairs and the menu written across several blackboards near the serving counter. It is not an unpleasant place but surprisingly claustrophobic. Access is limited as there is a narrow entrance and doorway.

The menu is sandwiches, salads, paninis - all light lunch stuff, and has recently won some prestigious awards. My latte was excellent. Served in a mug, lava-hot, topped with a thick, viscous foam and ferociously strong. However, the reason for our visit was the Rachel's Cupcake concession. These are gloriously self-indulgent, icky, crumby, sugary and gooey - everything you want a cupcake to be. The real problem is deciding which one to have. First choice was a strawberry milkshake, a vanilla sponge topped with strawberry buttercream and garnished with marshmallows. Second choice, a cookies and cream one was designated 'amazeballs' by Drew. A chocolate sponge with vanilla buttercream, decorated with a tiny Oreo biscuit. It is also filled with miniature broken Oreos. I recommend divvying up the contents beforehand to avoid unseemly public squabbles. In both cases the sponge is satisfyingly dense but still crumby and the buttercream is cloying, with a gritty texture. The only quibble is that the sponge adheres very closely to the case - peel it off as carefully as you can. Otherwise you end up being told off for scraping at the wrapper with your front teeth.

Latte: *****
Access: *****

Friday, 7 September 2012

Cottage Restaurant and Tea Garden, Anne Hathaway's Cottage, Stratford-upon-Avon

This is the establishment opposite the Cottage in the Rose Garden and next to a stream where, on one memorable bus tour many years ago a young and carefree future blogger informed the guide that, no, that wasn't what Shakespeare had in mind as the setting for Ophelia's death scene even if a willow does grow aslant that particular brook. Ah! Youthful brio, reckless self-confidence and eternal sunshine dappling the bonny face with visible cheekbones.

Thus also, presumably, was the future Mrs Shakespeare enticed by the charms of a local glover's son. The theme surrounding the cottage is always slanted toward the love affair and a hell of a lot of effort is put into the cottage and its surroundings in creating an atmosphere conducive to the secret tryst, and as a destination for 'courting'. The Tea Gardens are no exception to this, sheltered in what looks like a large gazebo and surrounded by greenery that included a rose garden, bowers with benches  and tall, overhanging trees.

The menu is small - sandwiches, toasties, cakes and pastries. I opted for a ham and cheese toasted baguette. It has to be said, it was nothing exceptional, apart from the accompanying salad which, as Drew pointed out, shows a little more imagination having not only peppers but a lemony rice making it a more substantial side dish than the usual two-leaves-and-half-a-tomato; but this is another place where the surroundings are more important that the menu. Which really does not excuse the ubiquitous B & Q white plastic garden furniture used outside, the really cheap and nasty stuff that you are always seeing people fall off on episodes of You've Been Framed.

It is best to go here in the autumn - the substantial summer crowds have died down and the full-on prettiness is mellowed a little. It is an area conducive to reflection, being quiet and, unless there is a family, the conversations are generally kept to quite a low hum. There is a superb view of the cottage and the passing tour buses. Like Mrs Shakespeare, you can think about how you now live in a nice house in the town; and wish that he were home from work.

Latte: *****
Access: *****

Knights Fish and Chip Restaurant, Glastonbury

Bear with me, O faithful bloggee, regarding the lateness of this post. I have been up to my chins in medical matters.

This is an odd place. One of its selling points is its longevity which seems appropriate for Glastonbury. Not quite as old as the Abbey, perhaps, but one's credibility in this town does seem to be enhanced by connections with age, if not necessarily antiquity. This might explain why the interior appears to have been unchanged since the 1970s, all pine and formica with bench and booth-style seating at the front. Through a sliding door are bolted metal tables and small wooden chairs. Is it just me or do places that serve unhealthy food lay out their establishments as if the regular clientele were whip-thin?

The menu is comprehensive and, in true Glastonbury style, you can make some rather eclectic choices. Such as opting for sausage and chips followed by apple pie and ice cream with a glass of orange squash. Or smoked eel with a crisp and tasty pinot grigio and coffee ice cream. I opted for the cod and chips, pricey at £6.55, but a generous portion. The chips were thick, glutinous and salty, but not greasy and the cod portion was shaped into a flattened, rounded form coated with a dark, crunchy batter. There is no speciality coffee here, no lattes or cappucinos, so I opted for a bog-standard coke.

Access is reasonable. There is a step down into the place which might be problematic but it is waitress service which is always helpful. This being Glastonbury, every aspect is sustainable and recyclable, including the joke 'wanted' ads on the noticeboard.

Access: *****
Chips: *****