Thursday, 30 September 2010

Roaming about, but not posting a great deal...

Well, the headline kind of says it all; I've been roaming about and visiting the odd caff and teashop here there and everywhere, but haven't gotten round to posting a great deal, which is a shame as I don't want anybody out there to think I've been slacking in the teashop and caff arena.

The Cholmondeley Arms, Chesshire – nice pub, great rooms

Right this minute I'm in a hotel room at the Cholmondeley Arms (pronounced 'Chumley') somewhere in Cheshire, hence I've got the time to sit and blog for a while.  I thought I'd update you all with some of the places I've been to, although I must confess that I've been off of the Millionaire's Shortbread even if I did indulge a bit just now with an apple pie and damson ice cream here at the Cholmondeley Arms in Cholmondeley. The pub is a converted school and there are outbuildings (alright, it's like a house across from the pub) in which there are letting rooms.

The food at the Cholmondeley Arms is good. I had chicken breast as a main course something like apple and celeriac soup to start, although I'll check that as it might be wrong. That and a pint of bitter went down a treat and prompted me to order a dessert in the shape of apple pie with damson ice cream. To be honest, while relatively tasty, the apple pie was a little flat and 'spludgy' and the damson ice cream relatively tasteless. Still, it was pleasant enough as I sat there reading bits of the Times and generally chilling out.

The pub, of course, is not a teashop, nor a caff, so I shouldn't really be writing about it at all. I was in Whitchurch earlier, a decidedly run-down sort of place with loads of closed-down pubs and a raft of one-man-band cab operators. I had to wait for ages to travel the six miles from Whitchurch to Cholmondeley and took refuge in a pub that was open while I waited for one of the cab companies to call me back. There were some interesting caffs in Whitchurch but they were all closed. Having said that, hats off to the Edge, a coffee shop by day and a bistro by night. The girl there provided me with many cab company numbers and eventually, I reached my destination, the Cholmondeley Arms.

Café Viriato, Epsom

There's nothing better than going into a caff and getting that feeling that you're in another country. That's exactly what happened to me when I bowled into the Café Viriato in Epsom, Surrey, for no good reason at all. Billed as a Portugese deli, the Viriato was fantastic as it was not only a caff but a deli selling foreign stuff – no familiar names to be seen, giving me the impression that I was in downtown Lisbon. The hot weather outside added to the delusion. The Viriato gets top marks for everything.

A chunk of Portugal in Epsom, Surrey

It sells sandwiches, baps or French sticks for between £1.80 and £3.00; Ciabatta range from £2.30 to £3.20 and a large tea will set you back 80p. A hot chocolate is £1.30 and I noticed that a bacon sarnie was £2.30; a chicken sarnie £2.00 and a hot sausage sandwich, £2.30. Nice place.

Narrowbar Café, Penrith

After taking a bus from Cockermouth to Penrith in order to catch a train from London – and discovering I had time on my hands – I nipped into downtown Penrith from the bus station (or bus stop, I can't remember which) and enjoyed the delights of the Narrowbar Café. This was not only a nicely furnished, pleasant place to pass some time, it sold fantastic food, offered great service and the staff were all incredibily attractive women. What more could a weary traveller ask for?

The Narrowbar Café in Penrith – nice food, ever nicer waitresses. Woof!

Well, I asked for a lot: a cup of tea and a Tomato and Mozzarella ciabatta with pesto, which arrived looking extremely good. I also ordered a home-made cookie and noted many other home-made delights such as that old teashop favourite, Lemon Drizzle Cake (£2.40) and a whole range of baked cakes and scones.

Here at the Narrowbar, a bacon omelette with chips and salad cost £6.50 and there was a pleasant, upbeat vibe, created largely by the general environment, but also the fantastic-looking women serving behind the counter. To be honest, I could have sat there all day.

The Bay Bistro, Brixham, Devon

The Bay Bistro in Brixham, Devon; right on the harbour!
The Bay Bistro prices displayed in the window!
We went on holiday to Brixham and stayed in a house overlooking the harbour. Very quaint. There was plenty to do and see, like the Bay Bistro, right down on the harbour. This was a pleasant place and it was licensed too, not that I indulged.

There were laminate wood floors and chrome seats and being right on the harbour, some great views too. Here a full English breakfast is £4.75, a Harbour Special (£7) – and this is big: two bacon, two sausage, two fried eggs, hash browns, beans, mushrooms, fried bread, toast and tea. Then there are specials, like cottage pie, jacket potatoes, paninis and beef lasagne – the latter costing a pricey £9.99.

If you fancy a fish meal, they start at £7.30 for cod and chips and go up to £16 for a fresh crab and prawn salad with potates and French bread.

A Sunday roast costs £6.95 while desserts, like apple pie and custard, cost £4.50.

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