Scone of the Week #10: Salt Water Cafe, Beadnell

What a beautiful day it was today. The sky was brilliant blue and you could just about feel the sun’s warmth on your skin. We decided to head up the coast and arrived in Beadnell, where we found the Salt Water Cafe on a corner in the heart of the village. With outside seating on both sides, this will be a lovely place to visit in warm weather as it is sheltered from the sea, overlooking Beadnell House on one side and St Ebba’s Church on the other.

Beadnell House
St Ebba’s Church

The Cafe is open all day from 8.30am, serving breakfast, snacks, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner from 6pm. (the dinner specials board looked great, and included pigeon, halibut, chicken and a vegetarian option). I could see a good selection of cakes, desserts and pastries on the counter and in the chiller cabinet as we walked in, as well as a well-stocked bar.

We chose our usual cheese scones, and were asked if we wanted them warmed. They soon arrived, with three foil wrapped pats of butter (more generous than the usual two), and this was at room temperature, easy to spread.

The scones were really tasty and full of flavour. They were alarmingly yellow! I did ask about this and was told it could be from the mustard used in the recipe, though there was not a lot of mustard heat in them – I wondered if they contained turmeric. They had a good crumbly texture and a nice cheesy crust. Absolutely delicious!

Our coffees came with a little shortbread biscuit on the side and the milk was served in tiny churns.

I was quite fascinated by all the mirrors. There are gilt framed ones of various shapes throughout the cafe which look rather stylish grouped together. There are two amazing mosaic framed ones in the bathroom, which really attracted my attention. I’m feeling quite inspired to make one myself!

It was a lovely relaxed place to stop for our snack and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit snack. it’s dog-friendly during daytime service too. Saltwater Cafe definitely an asset to the village. I’m very tempted to return to try breakfast or dinner!

What’s the most interesting piece of decor that you’ve seen in a bar or restaurant?

Scone of the Week #8

Today’s Scone of the Week is from Bari Tea on Narrowgate, Alnwick. Bari (pronounced bar-ee) is a Northumbrian dialect word meaning” lovely” and this is indeed a lovely tea shop. They refer to it as a tea brewery and it really is all about the tea, whether you want to sit and drink it on the premises or buy some to enjoy at home.

Unlike some places, where the tables are crammed in, there is enough room to move around (especially when you rock up on a disability scooter as I did). They serve things like cakes and scones, soup, filter coffee and very nice hot chocolate……and a comprehensive range of teas – the tea menu is quite lengthy.

There are some quirks that make you smile when you visit Bari. The toilet is twinned with one in Kenya(!) and all the staff on duty are named on a blackboard.

It was a quiet weekday lunchtime so only the “Maitre T” and the “Teas Maid” on “Sconage Duty” were named.

Our scones were really good – we got the last cheese and mustard one, which had a lovely flavour and gorgeously crusty top, and a sweet sultana one with just the right amount of fruit. Both were good-sized rustic hunks of scone, soft and crumbly without being dry. They were served with pats of butter on a tiny dish, (no foil wraps to fiddle about with), though it was hard from the fridge and hard to spread. Another little dish held a generous dollop of strawberry jam.

Mum ordered a pot of breakfast tea, with arrived in an earthenware pot with a timer and a receptacle with tongs to remove the tea bag when the allotted brewing time had elapsed.

I am not (and never will be) a tea drinker – I simply don’t like the taste, so I opted for a hot chocolate (they also serve filter coffee). My drink was lovely too – a piece of proper chocolate on a stick (two kinds available), to melt into hot milk, served with grated chocolate on top and mini marshmallows on the saucer: heaven!

The staff were really helpful and friendly too.

Situated in the part of Alnwick that is popular with tourists, sometimes referred to as the Castle Quarter (close to Alnwick Castle and surrounded by other small independent shops), Bari Tea is well worth a visit if you are in town, especially if you like tea.

Scone of the Week #7

Today we returned to one of our favourite scone stops: The Rocking Horse Cafe at Rock Midsteads Farm. To get there from the A1 north of Alnwick, take the turn off for Christon Bank and after a few hundred yards you will see signs to follow for the cafe.

As usual we got a warm welcome. The Rocking Horse is one of the most dog-friendly cafes I know and many of the customers bring their four-legged friends along. Today the humans were joined by a Bedlington Terrier, a West and the cafe’s two resident border collies, Sam and Tess. Sam obviously thought that we were deprived as we didn’t have a dog with us, so he kept us company. What a friendly soul he is, and so well-behaved.

The cheese scones were as delicious as ever, served warm, with generous pats of butter and no foil wrappers to wrestle with. They were crumbly without being dry, with a good flavour and a decent crust. One of the best!

I ordered hot chocolate – and had a choice of types – either powder or proper chocolate. I went for the latter.

After a while of stirring the chocolate on the swizzle stick into the hot milk, it dissolved to make a deliciously chocolaty drink, perfect for a cold, blustery day.

I was sat next to the namesake rocking horse, so couldn’t resist taking a photo.

Since our last visit, one of the cafe staff, Janet, has opened a dog-grooming business next door and she splits her time between the two. Her new venture is called Hair of the Dog. I just love the name!

As we left, I noticed that the woods by the farm entrance were carpeted with snowdrops. Simply breathtaking.

I’m still under no illusion that winter is not over. Despite being so close to the sea, which can take the edge off the cold, we still get deep snow some winters, and little or none in other years. So far, all we’ve seen here in Northumberland this winter is a dusting on the tops of the Cheviots. Have you had snow where you are ? (Don’t forget to say where that is.)

Scone of the Week #5

First day after the bank holiday and everyone still seems to be off work or school. In Alnwick, in search of a scone, everywhere we looked was either packed with queues forming for tables (Barter Books) or closed (most of the rest). It really was a shame as there were lots of tourists about. Baileys, at the junction of Market Street and Bondgate Within, was open with vacant tables so that’s where we went for this week’s scone.

There are steps at the entrance and to get to the counter, so this is not the most accessible cafe. Inside, the decor is rather tired and I’m not a fan of the plastic tablecloths. The staff are very pleasant though and the place is dog-friendly: a very cute shih tzu was under the next table and there were water bowls dotted around.

After ordering at the counter, our scones and drinks arrived quite quickly. The scones were ok, though not very cheesy, with an almost sweet taste. They were served just warm, with a couple of plastic/foil covered butter pats (Lurpak) – nice butter, shame about the packaging. It was at room temperature and spread easily.

While my mum had a pot of tea, I had hot chocolate, which looked quite spectacular. I declined the optional marshmallows. My drink was served in a very tall mug with a long spoon, with a swirl of whipped cream and a dusting of chocolate powder. The cream kept its shape without melting away for quite a while.

Though not the best scone of the week we’ve tasted, it was fine. I applaud Baileys for opening on 2nd January, when many establishments didn’t bother and there were lots of potential customers about.

Have you been out to any cafes or restaurants over the holidays?

Scone of the Week #3- The Old Stables Tea Room

Today took us to the The Old Stables Tea Room, just outside Alnwick (on the roundabout just up from the Lion Bridge on the B6352). This lovely little cafe is situated in part of the stable block of a big old house.

Although they serve a lovely selection of yummy cakes and light lunches, we opted for our habitual cheese scones.

We were offered these slightly warmed and they arrived just warm enough to feel fresh from the oven, but not so hot as to melt the butter – perfect!. They were served with a very generous pot of butter, soft enough to spread easily (don’t you just hate trying to spread hard straight-from-the-fridge butter?) . The scones excellent: soft and very light with a little bit of cheese baked on the top. We accompanied them with a pot of tea for mum and hot chocolate (choice of milk or dark chocolate) for me, served with a big swirl of cream.

The cafe has a friendly team of staff and also includes a small shop area with a selection of cards and gifts. It’s usually quite full, especially in the summer holiday season and even today most of the empty tables were reserved when we arrived. It’s probably work booking in advance at busy times

As we were leaving, afternoon tea was being served to one table, complete with dainty sandwiches and cakes . It looked lovely – something to think about for another time.

What’s the nicest afternoon tea you’ve ever had?

Scone of the week #2

How cheesy is this scone?

This week found us snacking at Nelsons at the Park in Swarland, Northumberland. in the heart of the village, overlooking the children’s playground and sports field.

We opted for our favourite cheese scones, though the cakes on display are very tempting, Here the scones are generously proportioned and exceptionally cheesy, with a deliciously crusty outside and crumbly centre. To drink, I had a very indulgent hot chocolate (chocolate orange flavour), topped with lashings of whipped cream, a little bucket full of marshmallows and a couple of chocolate orange segments. Mum had a filter coffee. As always, one of the friendly team at Nelsons came over to offer her a top up.

It was a perfect way to cheer up a dull, wet November afternoon,

What’s your favourite scone?

Scone of the week #1- Rocking Horse Cafe

I mentioned in my last post that I drive my Mum to the supermarket on a Thursday and sit in the car, knitting while she shops . We usually go out for a snack after that. Here in Northumberland we have no shortage of places to go for a cheese scone (we both love these) and a coffee.

This week we visited one of our favourites, The Rocking Horse Cafe, at Rock Moor. We had excellent coffee and scones, which were served warm with proper pats of butter (no fiddly foil packets), It felt really cosy today: the log burner was blazing and it was the perfect choice for a cold November day (though there is a garden with plenty of seating to use in warmer weather).

It’s a small very friendly place – in some ways more like going round to someone’s house for coffee than visiting a cafe. It’s also extremely dog friendly – in summer there is even a dog agility course set out in the garden.

Of course there is a rocking horse at the Rocking Horse Cafe

There is a vague knitting/woolly connection here at the Rocking Horse Cafe . There are two very friendly resident Border Collies – the sheepdog breed of choice here in the UK. It would also be a rather nice place for a small knit and natter group!

Do you think I should make Scone of the Week a regular feature of the blog?