Category Archives: Coffee Shop

Bandstand Tea Room – Leamington Spa

Myself and Mr Gourmand recently got caught out by a freak thunderstorm close to the Pump Room gardens in Leamington Spa and decided to jump into the first coffee shop we good which was the Bandstand Tea Room. As you can tell from the photographs, The Bandstand Tea Room, named after the band stand across the road, is a quaint little place with decorative wallpaper and delicate ornamental features fitting for a fine tea room in York or Edinburgh.

interior

There was a great selection of teas all housed in pretty silver jars, I particularly liked the shabby chic cabinet that housed them.

cakes

There wasn’t huge variety of cakes, but the ones on offer were home made, nicely presented and looked delicious.

chocolate cake

I went for the Chocolate Cake as recommended by the waitress which was an incredibly indulgent, rich, chocolaty delight, that truth be told I struggled to finish – at this point Mr Gourmand jumped in to finish what I plainly couldn’t! The ratio of buttercream to cake was good, this is something that some places get so wrong but on this occasion it was perfect.

latte

Mr Gourmand went for a Latte to wash down the chocolate cake he stole from me and his own cake.  Next to the latte you can just see a glimpse of the Victoria Sponge Mr Gourmand ordered. He does order some odd cakes, but I think he chose wisely this time as it was beautifully light and delicious! although it looks like the cake was filled with just a bit too much buttercream it was actually a perfect amount and very light and airy.

arthur coffee

Look at Baby Gourmand’s face, even he was glad to get out of the cold rain!

Overall we had nice cake and coffee which is all you can ask for, however it was a little pricey and certainly fell into one of the most expensive coffee shops in Leamington, but for those special occasions when you really fancy the best cake, I would go again. The chocolate cake was a bit special!

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Sip – Leamington Spa

sip

Sip is a fairly new addition to Regent Street in Leamington Spa, we don’t often venture this far when shopping on a Saturday so it was just by chance that we stumbled upon it.

Sip_inside

With exposed brickwork, fancy lighting, bare wood and glass cabinets the interior is very appealing.  Jazz music played in the background and staff are very friendly.

sip

We ordered a flat white, an americano and two pastries.  The coffee was delicious, the best we had tasted in a while.  We were both served a glass of water which NEVER happens anywhere else! The pastries were good also and overall this is somewhere I would chose to go to again.

I like coming across these little places and wish SIP all the best and look forward to visiting again very soon!

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Stone Monkey

Stone monkey

The Stone Monkey is what you can only describe as a quirky little place. You know the type, not quite in a town centre, usually alongside a laundrette or under a flat. Well this one is all of the above. Myself and Mr Gourmand were walking by one day and thought we should probably try this place as it had all the hallmarks of being something special. The Stone Monkey itself is actually a yoga studio from what I can tell, with a kind of side business of coffee shop.

The first thing to note is that it only sells vegetarian food, and doesn’t have the biggest menu in the world, but oh boy from what we tasted, I can’t wait to go back!

Stone monkey

I went for the scrambled egg on sourdough toast and Mr Gourmand tried the vegetarian sausage sandwich.  The first thing you will notice from the photographs is the drizzle of cream and little green capers sitting proudly on top of the egg, well believe me, this breakfast was something I would expect to eat the morning after a stay at a luxury spa hotel! The flavours went together perfectly, with the sharp caper cutting through the smooth and creamy scrambled egg – I can hardly write about this without drooling on my screen. Yes it was that good, please go and try it for yourself.

Mr Gourmands vegetarian sausage sandwich was pretty good as well. It was served in a nice roll with delicious spiced chutney and salad on the side. He really enjoyed it but I could see the envy in his eyes after tasting my luxury scrambled eggs. His eyes were as green as the capers sitting proudly on my eggs!

Stone monkey

The Stone Monkey is definitely somewhere I would travel to if I wanted a nice breakfast. It was very smart inside, with the kind of relaxed feel you would expect from a yoga studio/coffee shop. The coffee cold have been a bit hotter if I was being picky, oh well, better try it again to see if they can improve next time!

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Cafe One 20 – Heaton, Newcastle Upon Tyne

Cafe One in Heaton, Newcastle upon Tyne, has been recommended to me a few times, and Mr Gourmand has been there with friends and raves about the place. He loves a place where he feels welcome, sometimes its the staff, other times the feel of a place just being right, well, for this place he seemed to think it had it all. I’ll be the judge of that! So, one morning Mr Gourmand suggested we visit it with his mam for an early morning coffee, and maybe breakfast…who are we kidding, of course breakfast!

 

bagel bagels

I went for a Breakfast bagel which came with scrambled egg and hash browns…slightly odd, but not as odd as the salad with dressing….hmm, a breakfast that thinks it’s a lunch, well, it was really quite nice, the scrambled eggs were done just as I asked and for a cheap price, yea, it was a pretty nice breakfast. I left the salad tho!

breakfast pancakes

Mr Gourmand and his mam thought what the heck and went for the Pancakes. Now, myself and Mr Gourmand don’t disagree on much, well actually we do, so this didn’t come as a surprise. The argument on this occasion is this – he doesn’t care what type of pancakes you get when you order ‘breakfast pancakes’, personally, I think if they are not proper ‘american style’ then what is the point! but ok, he ordered it so let’s get on with it. He enjoyed it, the scrambled egg was excellent and the bacon delicious, maybe slightly let down by the cheapish sausages that I don’t really think places can get away selling these days when most cafes have really upped the sausage quality game, but, it was cheap, cheerful, served nice coffee and had a great lunch menu, so would I try this place again? why not, but there may be a few other places I try first before coming back!

If you fancy trying this place out you can find Cafe One 20 at 120 Heaton Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE6 5HN

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Graze – Royal Quays

Graze is a fabulous little cafe situated within the Land Rover shop at Royal Quays.  Royal Quays is perfect for bargain hunters and hosts a number of discounted shops such as Clarks, M&S, Thorntons, Gap, Next and many more.  International readers may be more familiar with the DFDS International passenger terminal at North Shields which is a stones throw away from Royal Quays.  If you ever visit the North Shields area I suggest you pay Graze a visit!

The Graze cow is probably the first thing you will notice whilst walking through Royal Quays, both children and adults were seen using the cow as a photography prop, children were feeding the cow grass and babies were being sat on the cows back.

At the time of writing the cow will be fenced into a barrier, unfortunately the sheer amount of traffic going up to the novelty cow has resulted in foot imprints in the grass, sitting your child on top of a fake cow is also not a very good idea people, the cow may be there to look pretty but let’s not be silly, you wouldn’t sit on a real cow so lets respect the graze cow and view from afar!

The lights are probably one of my favourite features, sleek and stylish and also looking like an upside down feeding trough which keeps in with the ‘Graze’ theme.

The Steel counter is something I really love, I’ve seen something similar in an art gallery cafe where the steel had actually been left outside to rush the rusting process and it looked amazing.

I’m sure you will agree that the steel and glass counters work really well together.

The tables are chic and the chairs surprisingly comfortable

Ok enough with the decor let’s get on with the good stuff!

The glass display cabinets are a great idea, I don’t know anyone who would be able to resist something to eat after looking into them!

Graze offers a good selection of Hot and Cold food, cakes and pastries.  Prices are very reasonable and the portion sizes are good.

Both Myself and Mr Gourmand had an americano coffee, surprisingly many places get coffee so wrong, it’s either too strong, not strong enough too hot or not hot enough.  The coffee from Graze was both hot and flavoursome.

The lemon sponge slice was moist and tangy with hidden jam inside making this a delicious treat.  So often sponge cakes are dry and have either too much icing or not enough, the ratio here was perfect.

We decided to share a Chilli Beef Panini, I’m glad we opted to share as this was a monster, filled to the brim with minced beef , mexican beans and cheese, hot and delicious, more than enough for two people.

The Frangipane tart was delicious, I think the picture speaks for itself to be honest, it tasted as good as it looked!

Next time you’re in the North Shields / Royal Quays area I urge you to try Graze!

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Greggs Moment

Greggs Moment is a cafe situated on Northumberland street in Newcastle’s city centre, blink and you will miss it as it’s situated on the same stretch as Costa, Starbucks and Pret, you also have an M&S cofffee shop just a couple of doors down.

As far as I know there are no other Greggs Moments cafe’s open anywhere else in the country, this was a trial cafe to see how it worked.

Everytime I pass it’s very busy, the cafe is open until 10pm which is something that Newcastle has needed for a long time, not everyone wants to go to a pub for a sit down and a chat after 7pm when everywhere else is shut.

My favourite part of this whole cafe are the door handles, I would love door handles like this on all of my doors!

With only 30 minutes between lectures to spare and because Greggs moments is only 5 minutes from uni Mr Gourmand and I had a filter coffee each, the coffee served here is actually really good and not as expensive as some of the competition on the street.

I had a Cherry and White Chocolate scone which was nice but a little artificial tasting

Mr Gourmand had a Bacon and Cheese Scone, I love cheese scones and I don’t like the fact that Greggs moments stick Bacon in theirs which spoils the scone meaning I can’t eat them!

If Greggs happen to read this, please sell plain ones too for us non pork eaters!

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Sunshine and Ice-Cream

Last week here in Newcastle upon Tyne we had the most beautiful weather, it’s a stark contrast to the weather this week which has been a mixture of rain, wind, snow and hail, anyway I digress.  During the sunbathing weather we decided to have dinner out rather than cook in the house and Mini Gourmand was promised an Ice-Cream from her favourite Ice-Cream parlour Archers.

I don’t usually eat Ice-Cream unless it’s dairy free as my stomach can’t tolerate it but I made an exception when I saw that a Turkish Delight flavour was on offer.  This must have been a very popular flavour as I got the last two scoops available!

The ice cream had a very delicate rose flavour with small flakes of dark chocolate coming through every now and again.  This is an Ice-Cream to recommend, it’s a perfect flavour for summer, creamy rich and delicious.

When Mini Gourmand ordered the Ice-Cream Sundae I had no doubt in my mind that she would leave half of it, after all she had just polished off a two course italian meal only 15 minutes prior to arriving at Archers.

The Ice-Cream Sundae was filled with Jersey Ice-Cream, Strawberry Ice-Cream, Strawberry coulis, Fresh Strawberries, Fresh Cream and a wafer, a mammoth dessert for anyone including an 11 year old child!

Neither Mr Gourmand or Myself helped in the destruction of this Ice-Cream Sundae, it was all Mini Gourmand’s work!  Gourmand by name Gourmand by nature!

Archer’s Ice Cream Parlour can be found on Acorn Road, Jesmond and is open from 11am – 8pm Monday to Friday, 10am – 8pm Saturday and 12pm – 8pm Sunday

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Artisan Delights at Grants

Grants Bakery of Hexham is not your usual bakers, inside you will find a unique array of bakery products that emphasize commitment to both standards and local pride. They constantly strive to retain the skills of craft baking as well as the traditional bakery creations that the British public have come to love, a trait epitomized by owner and award-winning continental patisserie chef, Andrew Cotterell.

From the outside you would be fooled to think that this was an ordinary bakers, it’s only when you walk up to the window and look inside that you realise this bakers is a little bit special!

There are a huge range or cakes and artisan breads available (look out for separate blog posts) and at the back of the shop is a delectable little coffee shop selling a range of hot and cold food.

The Coffee shop opened in late March 2012 and there are two seating areas, one up a small flight of stairs and visible from the shop and the other upstairs.  There is ample seating but in my opinion this is a place that will soon become very popular due to the quality of the goods on offer and seats will be difficult to find.

Grants have hired a trained barista to assist them with the coffee making, as you know a trained barista can make coffee FAST!

We had not long had breakfast but being the gourmand that I am, my philosophy is that there is always room for cake, who can resist a cake trolley?

The coffee was hot, medium strength and delicious, it’s amazing how many places get coffee so wrong, not here.  The choice of cup and saucer used should be applauded, a delicate bone china cup makes coffee taste so much better than the thick rimmed mug often provided in other establishments.

Who can resist a Peach Melba?  This is a cake that so many bakers get wrong, the pastry is often hard, you often only get a sliver of peach and quite often the cream is not fresh.

This Peach Melba is the King of Peach Melba’s, not only because of its gargantuan size, the pastry tasted like shortbread, soft and buttery, there were ample peaches and the cream was fresh.

For me the test of a good Peach melba is how it holds itself, I don’t like to have a crumbly mess that explodes once you cut into it, this did not disappoint, as you can see I managed to eat half of the cake and the other half stood perfectly until I was ready for it!

I urge you to visit Grants Bakery!  I have a whole host of fabulous blog posts featuring the items I brought home with you so stay tuned!

Grant’s Bakery of Hexham: 13 Cattle market, Hexham, NE46 1NJ

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Archer’s Exquisite Ice Cream Parlour–Jesmond

I love Jesmond  as there is a great mixture of people which brings a great community spirit. Today my spirit was heightened after visiting the newly opened Archer’s Ice Cream parlour on Acorn Road.
Archers_Outside

The parlour provides a fresh new shop front to the ever changing face of Acorn Road, and after visiting, I hope this particular shop front stays for a long time to come. First things first, Ice Cream must be a passion of the owners as it is made fresh on the premises meaning the poor proprietors have to start the process at 5am! They also ensure milk from Jersey cows is transported each day from the dairy at Walworth Darlington which guarantees freshness

Archers_Wall_Display

The parlour offers a whole host of hot drinks, delicious sundaes and other ice cream related goodness including Ice Cream cakes! In general the prices are average compared to other coffee establishments in the area.

Archers_Fridge

The premises currently occupied by the Ice Cream parlour has had several transformations over the years from Italian cafes to clothes shops and I think Archer’s have done pretty well to squeeze in five good sized tables with seating for approximately 16 people.

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Archer_Cabinet_1
Archers_Cabinet_2

The flavours available at the time of my visit were: Coffee, Liquorice, Rasberry Pavlova, Mango Yoghurt, Simple Jersey, Black Cherry, Hokey Pokey, Mint Choc Chip, Strawberry, Tiramisu, Kids Chaos, Chocolate, Banana, Toffee Fudge, Peanut and Passion Fruit. The good man working there did inform me that the flavours change regularly which is a great selling point and provides much needed variety.  Samples of the flavours are provided on request enabling you to ‘try before you buy’ ensuring that the flavour you purchase is your favourite.

Tiramasu _Archers_Ice_cream

Mr Gourmand opted for the Tiramisu Ice Cream (£2.00), I managed to steal a little taste and it was heavenly, rich, and creamy with delicious coffee undertones.

Archers_Coffee

As my unfortunate stomach condition prevents me from eating too much cream I opted for a coffee (£2.20) which was rich and delicious and was accompanied by a mini cone with plain Jersey Ice Cream, this was the perfect amount of Ice cream for me!  The holder on the side of the cup was perfect and like nothing I’ve ever seen before.  The Ice Cream itself was nothing less than amazing and creamy without being too sickly. Without a doubt the best Ice Cream I’ve tasted and that’s saying something as I’ve tasted a lot!

Archers_Menu

I personally think the owners have made a very good choice in picking Jesmond to open their parlour as the area is heavily populated by students, families, and visitors meaning that the public will be able to pop by for an Ice Cream fix at all times!


Both myself, Mr and Mini Gourmand will be making regular visits to Archers and we’re even considering some sort of Ice Cream goodness for Mini Gourmand’s 11th Birthday next week!
In my opinion opening until 8pm every night will provide greater evening  variety for the public especially families like mine while also being a welcome change for students who would usually visit the pubs and bars.


Archer’s Ice Cream Parlour is open from 11am – 8pm Monday to Friday, 10am – 8pm Saturday and 12pm – 8pm Sunday

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