Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Canterbury: Mrs Jones' Kitchen

Venturing into Canterbury to try out Mrs Jones' Kitchen, this fairly new addition to the city has been on our 'Must Visit' list for a while. First impressions are good, the large windows create an inviting look and upon stepping through the door has a welcoming and friendly atmosphere.

Its obviously a favorite with mums with tots who are the majority of customers on our visit, and this creates a lovely family friendly feel.  Seated at a wooden table on comfy chairs, we felt like being in a stylish canteen. It would be a great spot for meeting and catching up with friends as its very casual and laid back with reasonable prices.

There is a tempting selection of cakes on display, a classic menu of lunch options such as jacket potatoes and ploughmans as well as an opportunity to try something different from the selection of daily specials. The menu was unpretentious, it had some good choices and we enjoyed taking time out to just sit and chill whilst people watching. 

Plumping for the Afternoon Tea, we devoured the finger sandwiches and warm fruit scones with lashings of clotted cream and jam. Presented appetisingly on a rustic wooden board, it was good value at £6.50 each and offered a good honest lunch with prompt and friendly service.

The tea was standard everyday tea and the coffee quality on par with the high street chains but not as good as Browns Coffee House. It's the unique charm of this place that would make you want to come back and relax here with tea and cake. A blackboard advertises live music afternoons and children's activities, a unique touch which would have us coming back.

The Verdict?
This is a lovely spot to pop in for tea and cake or a light lunch. The Afternoon Tea was good value and we will be definitely coming back to try out some of the delicious cakes and bakes on offer. A busy atmosphere means you could quite comfortably pop in on your own, or swing by with friends.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Hythe: The Dolls House

Intrigued by what we saw from peeking through the window, this café is like nothing we've experienced before. First of all, the building itself is pretty impressive, but the interior and atmosphere within is fantastic.

Entering the ground floor you are met with an eclectic range of mismatched tables and chairs - church pews nestled next to comfy old Chesterfield sofas, wooden farmhouse chairs some painted in bright colours in contrast to ultra modern Starks ghost chairs along with painted wicker tub chairs. The ceiling is super high making the space feel massive, but it manages to remain cosy and welcoming with a really happy buzz.

As well as being a café The Dolls House is also an area which hosts temporary art exhibitions by local artists, sells home accessories, designer and shabby chic furniture and second hand books.


 This is a place that you could visit again and again without getting bored as to where to sit or what to choose off the menu. A great spot for meeting with friends or just popping in solo whilst on a  shopping trip around Hythe. The staff are all friendly and acknowledge you when entering, the service is speedy and the prices reasonable. It has a cute little area set up for children to sit at mini tables and chairs where they can pretend they are in a giant dolls house whilst sipping on apple juice and nibbling on cupcakes.

If we hadn't been full up from previous tea room tastings that morning, we would have definitely tried out the lunch options. All the food served here is, as they claim, good honest homemade and very enticing. Choices include soup, warm goats cheese salad, cheese and bacon quiche, bacon bap, sausage roll, freshly made baguette or panini and warm buttery croissants to name just a few!

The cake selection was also superb - Lemon and poppy seed, lime and coconut, raspberry and orange, classic Victoria sponge, carrot with Philly topping, coffee and walnut. All looked so delicious, we went for the coffee and walnut.

Having reached our fluid coffee intake for the day, we tried out the tea. Yorkshire tea for him, Teapigs lemon and ginger for moi. All served up in bright white china with bright blue teapots. Both teas were very good, and the cake is the best coffee cake we have had hands down.

The Verdict? Thumbs Up!
LOVE it! This is definitely going to be a regular stop off when in Hythe, even to the point that we would come to Hythe especially so we could pop in here for tea and cake. What makes it special is the mix of great atmosphere, great seating arrangements, interesting interior, friendly staff and fantastic food and drink.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Our Pick: Top 10 Catering Vans For Sale

Continuing with the van theme as we haven't managed to get to any coffee or tearooms this week, here is a short list of some amazing vans currently for sale which have been turned into catering vans. Most are decked out and ready to hit the road and start trading, so tempting! 

A lovely HY converted into a coffee van, this cream and brown classic is a real eye catcher. With its corrugated tin bodywork, pig nose bonnet and overall vintage looks this is one of my favorites. A side opening hatch and fully fitted coffee machine and grinder make it ready to go. It even has a reversing camera! Currently on eBay for £16000 + VAT. 

This is truly amazing and is Ollie's favorite! An iconic red London bus has been turned into a mobile bar. Having done over a million miles whilst in service around the streets of London, it is now fitted with a fully functioning bar. Upstairs has been turned into a sleek lounge area able to take up to 30 party goers and the roof opens up for those rare sunny days. The whole thing can be yours for £85000 pounds on eBay! Start saving Ollie!

3. 1972 Citroën Pompiers HY Van

Another HY van, this bright red beauty is an ex French fire engine. With a petrol 1.9 litre engine, it has racked up 45,000 miles in its 42 years. Fully restored and fitted with a side serving hatch, all this needs is a coffee machine. The blue flashing light works too! Currently on eBay for £1600 + VAT.

4. American Airstream Trailer
Not a van, the Airstream is a brand of luxury recreational trailers manufactured in the USA. Easily recognised by its distinctive shape and sleek rounded aluminum body, this 17ft trailer was registered in 1961 and is an establisghed catering unit in Devon. Included is a panini machine, milkshake mixer, cash register, coffee machine, fridges, freezer, generator and use of the current trading name. On eBay for an asking price of £30,000.

5. Citroën 2 CV AK 400 Van

The 2 CV was an economy car produced by the French car manufacturer Citroën between 1948 and 1990. It was designed to motorise the large number of small-holder farmers in 1930s France, who were still using horse and cart.  It is considered one of France's most iconic cars and over 3 million were made. This bright yellow van version would make an eye catching coffee and sandwich van and is on eBay for £8995.

6. Coffee Bike
OK so it's not a van but it's the ultimate eco-friendly mobile coffee unit. This handcrafted mahogany trike comes as a complete coffee business package. Fitted with a Fracino coffee machine, water tanks and storage area, there is no road tax or insurance to pay, and it would keep you fit cycling around the streets! On eBay for £10,995.

7. VW T2 Bay Window Camper
This vintage VW T2 camper is a great looking van. The Type 2, along with the 1947 Citroën H Van, are among the first 'forward control' vans in which the driver was placed above the front wheels. Called the Type 2 because it was the second car model made by Volkswagen (the first being the Beetle) this beauty has been converted and fitted with a retro espresso machine. Being sold as a business with use of the name on eBay for £14,500. 

8. Mercedes 508d
This 1987 Mercedes 508d was a Dutch military reserve ambulance which has been fully converted to to a street catering truck. From the outside it looks rough as its in its original 'Drab Olive' paint, but taking a peek inside reveals a sleek catering set up. This truck has done under a 1000 miles, making it a rare find. On eBay for £30,000.

9. Piaggio Porter
Converted to look like a vintage VW surfer camper, this cute little Piaggio Porter is actually only 7 years old. With a large oven and fridge fitted inside, it has been used as a sandwich and pie delivery van. A tiny 1.4 petrol engine powers this red and white eye catching unit. On eBay for £4995, it offers a cheaper alternative to the real thing.

10. Ford Transit
This vintage van is a 1974 Mk1 Ford Transit van. Two large doors, painted in blackboard paint, open to reveal a side serving hatch. Internally, the roof has been fitted with a full length skylight flooding the kitchen in light. Work tops are handmade from Chestnut, and it comes with a 4 tray oven and space for a fridge and freezer. Painted in a shade of grey olive, this beauty is on eBay for £22,960.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Our Pick: Top 5 Classic Vans For Sale

A slight break away from our usual topic of tea and coffee spots, we bring you a pick of the top classic vans currently for sale which would make ideal coffee vans. Our dream of one day turning a classic van into a tearooms on wheels gets ever closer! Don't worry though, we'll be back on the tea room reviews soon.

1. Renault Estafette - 1971 Hi-Top
This small front-wheel drive van was first introduced in France in 1959. Called the Estafette from the Italian Staffetta, meaning Courier, this van was very popular as a mobile shop, which at markets became as typically French as the ice cream van is English. This cute little lady is currently on eBay.

2. Citroen H Van - 1980 HY
A very popular van nowadays with vintage style caters in the UK, these were produced by Citroen between 1947 and 1981. Developed as a simple front wheel drive after the war, a total of 473,289 were produced and all are now old lady's, some being over 60 years old! The early models have suicide doors, all have a 3 speed gear boxes with a top speed around 50 mph and awful brakes. This 34 year old eye catching van is currently on eBay if you fancy it.

3. Austin LD
This is a 1966 1 ton Austin van with a 2.2 litre diesel engine, a proper work horse. These vans were sold under both the Austin and Morris banner. This great hulk of a van is currently on eBay.

An absolute classic and sought after collector's van, the VW camper is iconic. This 1965 splitty can be yours for a shade under £30k. 

Now this is our absolute favourite van among the classics out there. Produced from 1965 to 1980 the J7 came after the D4 but was succeeded buy the revised J9 in 1981. A solid little van, it has sliding drivers and passenger doors, disk brakes and a 4 speed gear box. They were made as panel vans, pick ups and minibuses and though a rare sight in the UK, these are a common sight all over France. This bright red fire truck has a few days left on eBay