Thursday, 30 January 2014

Canterbury: Brunch

A relatively new addition to Canterbury's main High Street, Brunch is a luxury city-center sandwich bar whose emphasis is on locally sourced ingredients. An independent father and daughter run business, this slate grey fronted shop was named in 2013 as one of the top 10 cheap places to eat in Canterbury by The Guardian.

Upon entering you are surrounded by lovely aroma of homemade soup and a visual feast of paninis, sandwiches and pastries. A popular stop off for shoppers, on first sight it does appear to have limited seating. Upstairs however is a pleasant surprise, opening out into a lovely chilled out space with a retro rustic feel.

Poppy red chairs clustered around tables made from pallets suit young professionals popping in for coffee who want to work on their laptop, or for a softer experience plonk yourself in the leather tub chairs dotted around tables made from recycled electric reels.

The standard range of espresso based coffees are on offer using single origin 'La Bastilla' beans from the mountains of Nicaragua. Also available is a good range of teas, both bags and loose leaf along with hot chocolate made with 32% cocoa.We tried a large latte (£2.70) and hot chocolate topped with whipped cream and a flake (£2.50), both drinks much superior than the high street chains with service being prompt and friendly.

 Tempted by the menu, we ordered lunch. One French Brie, British streaky bacon and caramelised onion chutney panini (£5.60) and a New Yorker pastrami, emmental and gherkin toasted sandwich (£5). Presented on paper napkin covered wooden boards, both were very delicious. It is slightly pricey, but you are paying for good quality ingredients and it is on par with the high street chains regards price.

The verdict?
Very enjoyable. When we're next on the high street and want a cup of coffee, we would head here. Friendly atmosphere coupled with cosy chairs and great decor makes this a relaxing spot on a busy day. Definitely worth a second visit to sample the tea and cake!

Friday, 24 January 2014

Canterbury: No 12 Tearoom & Restaurant

Surrounded by beautiful period buildings and set within the medieval Butter Market square, this looks and feels like a proper traditional English tea rooms.

Visiting at lunchtime on a busy Saturday, a sign on entering asks you to wait to be seated. We would have loved to have sat in the window, with views of the Cathedral entrance, but it was jam packed. A friendly young lass showed us to a table at the back of the building, where we perused the lunch menu.

Sat in cosy leather tub chairs, we ordered doorstep sandwiches, a cappuccino and an English Breakfast tea. The atmosphere is old school English and friendly, all the staff are smartly dressed in white shirts and aprons and the service is fast.

The massive doorstep sandwiches were divine, mature cheddar with chutney for him and egg mayo and cress for moi. Both served with a pot of sea salted handmade crisps and a small salad. All for a reasonable £6.50 each, although the wooden serving boards had seen better days.

I'm sorry to say that the coffee sampled on our visit was slightly stale, middle-of-the-road stuff.  Hopefully it was an off day, but I would stick to tea on my next visit as this was very good. They use Drurys Tea of London, which is also sold by the box at the counter along with all the scrumptious looking cakes.

The verdict?
As it is a tearooms in the traditional sense, we recommend this as a great cosy and friendly place to have a tea, cake or light lunch when out and about in Canterbury. If you can, get a window table so you can see the world go by. Good value, friendly and great if you're in a group as there is lots of space and seating.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Canterbury: Burgate Coffee

With its eye catching bright blue painted woodwork, this coffee house has a fresh and airy feel to it. Stopping off on a busy Saturday afternoon, we sat in the window on some comfy stools to watch the world go by as we sipped our flat white and Earl Grey.

Standing proud along Burgate Lane, the building and location is fantastic. We especially loved the exposed oak beams in the ceiling which gives it character, whilst still maintaining a young and fresh look.

All coffee is espresso based with beans from Revelation Roasters, a micro-roastery based in Renfrewshire, Scotland. We sampled a flat white and an Earl Grey tea, and had the option of having freshly pressed almond milk. Both drinks were good everyday brews on par with Herbert's and The Pop-Up Cafe.

On the day of our visit there was a slight lack of atmosphere, which was probably due to there being only a few customers. Nevertheless, it was a very enjoyable half an hour sat people watching and debating whether to get some cake or not. The breakfast and lunch menu has a great selection of yummy sounding options, making another visit needed to try these out.

The verdict?
This is a good value coffee house if you happen to be passing. It has a young feel, there is plenty of seating with a good selection of light bites and good tea and coffee. The only slight downside were the staff, who on our trip were not as friendly or welcoming as Brown's or Herbert's.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Canterbury: Brown's Coffee House

Brown's Coffee House, perched beside the River Stour, is tucked away from Canterbury's main high street down Water Lane. A favorite with those in the know, this coffee house offers sanctuary from the busy city and feels like you are being let in on a local secret.

A coffee house in the true sense, it serves coffee, tea pigs tea and a small selection of locally made cakes. As well as expresso based drinks, there are different coffee brew methods available - Aeropress, Chemex, V60 and Clever Dripper. Now don't be put off if you are unfamiliar with these, if you want a flat white just ask for one!

An hour or two could easily be spent here either on your own reading, or with friends chatting, sat on the stools looking out the window as the river flows by drinking great coffee.

We each sampled a flat white so as to keep it a level playing field, along with some fantastic Lemon Drizzle and Carrot Cake.

The Verdict? Thumbs Up!
Now we are by no means coffee geeks, but this coffee was really something. It might have helped that the atmosphere was relaxed and chilled out, the shop felt warm and cosy, there is a great selection of comfy seating and to top it off the staff are friendly. This is by far one of our most favourite coffee shops yet. 

Monday, 20 January 2014

Deal: The Pop-Up Cafe

As its name suggests, the Pop Up Cafe was originally setup as a temporary project by Ben and Hetty in 2012. Located on the high street of this sleepy seaside town, the cafe is now a permanent feature offering homemade bakes, light lunches and specialty coffee.

On the day of our visit the sun made a rare appearance, bathing the little shop in its warm glow. Nestled along the main high street opposite Poundland, it's located in the south end of Deal away from the more affluent North of town.

Greeted by an array of delicious looking cakes, sausage rolls and scones, a friendly chap in a flat cap at the counter tapped our order into his iPad.

The cafe has a sparse, semi-industrial feel about it and was a little chilly on the day of our visit. Sat on some retro chairs, the wait for 3 coffees, a tea, a chocolate brownie and a slice of cake was a little too long seeing as it wasn't busy. Buy hey ho we didn't have a bus to catch or anything!

All coffees are espresso based (flat white, Cappuccino etc) using a La Maazocco machine. No other brew methods are available, but there probably isn't much call for an Aeropress or Chemex brew in Deal.

We tried a flat white, an Americano and a Macchiato, all served at 60 degrees C using Nude espresso beans. On the tea front, we had a loose leaf Earl Grey which washed the cake and brownie down a treat.

The chocolate orange cake was divine if a little Christmasey for January. The chocolate brownie was more of a torte with texture of fudge but both didn't hang around on the plate long enough for a photo!

The verdict?  It was good, everyday coffee. Better than the high street coffee chains, as good as Herbert's in Folkestone but not up there with Brown's in Canterbury. If you happen to be in Deal then this should be your go-to for coffee and cake.

Folkestone: Herbert's

A special review to mark our 1st blog entry, this is not a coffee shop as such but a fabulous coffee kiosk. Tucked within the cobbled Folkestone harbor, reached by walking along Fish Market Lane under the disused Victorian railway arches, Herbert's is the place to go for great coffee and atmosphere in Folkestone.

Run by Aime Reed, a friendly lass who always has a welcoming smile, this little wooden clad coffee hut is named after her fisherman Grandfather Bert, who ran it before her.

With its wooden cladding, painted in pastel colours and bright poppy red chairs and tables it has the feel of a beach hut. There is a strong emphasis on organic ingredients and an array of goodies is always on offer to go along with your Lavazza espresso based coffee. We chose sweet popcorn and organic shortbread, both were very good and great value.

Our drinks of choice for this visit were a Cappuccino, a Latte, an Americano and a hot chocolate. The hearty coffee is freshly ground as you wait, and is on par with the Pop-Up Cafe in Deal but way better than any High Street chain can offer.

The best way to enjoy your hot drink and snack is to take a wander along the harbour wall, if your lucky the sea will be out exposing the sandy beach. If not, the pretty fishing boats bobbing about make a lovely photo!

The verdict? We love coming here. A bracing stroll along the harbour and beach, along with being able to get a good value, great tasting coffee from an friendly independent lass is all you need on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

They currently have no website or Twitter account, but are on Facebook.

Written by Hannah with help from Ollie!