- Credit: Archant
Get caught up at the Courtyard
This is somewhere you don’t expect to find a stone’s throw from Norwich Ring Road, writes Nancy Wedge. A short distance from Sweetbriar Road Industrial Estate is a former dairy farm that has been given an entirely new lease of life.
Hidden at the back of listed barns is an enchanting Victorian-walled garden, with twisted olive trees and fan-trained fruit trees growing among objects of curiosity. In the middle of this small garden centre is pretty flint-and-brick cafe, which opened a year ago in the former bullock shed.
Owner, Antonia Smith (daughter of Norfolk artist Diana Lamb whose horticultural watercolours adorn the cafe’s walls), encourages children to take kitchen scraps to the garden’s Polish Pom Pom chickens and Pipkin the rabbit, who live next to a terrapin pond.
The simple menu includes a ploughmans served on a heart-shaped slate, with a choice of Bray’s Cottage pork pie or Binham Blue and Norfolk Dapple, accompanied by Candi’s Chutneys. Other tempting offerings include baked Camembert with apple and Calvados and dipping bread, and artisan quiche with salad from the garden. Cakes are made by Aunty Jill from recipes handed down from Granny, and cream tea is served on vintage china with scones made with eggs from the chickens.
Antonia’s stint at a Parisian cabaret, where she waitressed and took to the tabletops as Marilyn Monroe, has its influence. By day at the cafe you might catch Antonia picking up her ukulele for impromptu serenades, but at night Antonia and husband Paul host regular soirees combining their love of food, music and outdoor living.
Paul, a tree surgeon and guitarist, is behind the gardeners’ paradise which surrounds the cafe. It is packed with plants sourced solely in Norfolk so they thrive well and is thought to have the biggest selection of wildflowers of any retail outlet in Norfolk. Visitors can join one of the guided walks through the wildflower meadow or explore on their own.
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Courtyard Garden Centre and Cafe, Hellesdon Barns, Hellesdon Hall Road, Norwich, NR6 5BB; 01603 407313; www.thecourtyardgardencentre.co.uk
A folly to miss it
Tucked away in the historic Hoppers Yard in Holt is the charming Folly Tearoom.
Serving delicious, ever-changing lunch specials with an emphasis on local, seasonal produce, and a fantastic array of tantalising homemade cakes, the café is particularly lovely in summer when the surrounding courtyard garden is in full bloom.
Run by Judith West and Adrian Waller, The Folly has just been extended.
“We now have two rooms which are very pretty and unique, with beautiful chandeliers hanging down and walls and tables decorated with our gorgeous vintage crockery. The cafe is very quaint and feels like a little oasis of calm,” says Judith.
Folly afternoon teas are especially popular, as is the summer rose Victoria sponge. “A customer said recently it was like ‘eating summer’ which is rather lovely.”
Folly Tearoom, Bull Street, Holt, NR25 6LN; 01263 713569; www.follytearoom.co.uk
Building on success
Hidden away in the heart of Swaffham is the inviting Cocoes Café and Deli. Part of Strattons Hotel, the café follows the same ethical and environmental principles, using local producers and suppliers, and maintaining a strong green ethos. The menu includes organic and wholefoods, and wherever possible, additive and GM-free ingredients.
Not only does it serve amazing homemade cakes and biscuits, it has an eclectic selection of teas and a regularly changed specials board. Maggie Cooper and her team offer traditional dishes such as pork pies, terrines, all day breakfasts, flans and salads – and don’t miss her famous sausage rolls. The menu also features Mediterranean dishes, such as meze, stuffed peppers, couscous salads, paella and falafels, for a real taste of summer.
Such is Cocoes popularity, plans are afoot to expand, converting an old barn on the hotel car park into a bigger café space. Once opened, it will hold jazz evenings, cookery demonstrations and special events, and will have balconies overlooking the gardens.
Cocoes Café and Deli, Ash Close, Swaffham, PE37 7NH; 01760 723845; www.strattonshotel.co.uk
Taste of the county
Take a seat on the patio at Purdy’s Tearoom at Woodgate Nursery in Aylsham and treat yourself to a delicious lunch. Try the Norfolk ham and mature cheddar Ploughmans platter, and for the children – a special platter with ham, cheese, tomato, cucumber and bread soldiers. All on the menu is handmade on the premises and it prides itself on using best local suppliers, including herbs from and fruit grown at the nursery.
Purdy’s Tearoom, Woodgate Nursery, Cawston Road, Aylsham, NR11 6UH.
Friends Liz Nelson and Julie Longhurst felt their village of Coltishall was missing a traditional tearoom – so they set about opening the quaint and charming A Piece of Cake. Everything sold is homemade and wherever possible created using local produce; afternoon high tea is a treat not to be missed. They also stock a range of gluten-free cakes and breads, all served with a very warm welcome.
Piece of Cake, The River Rooms, Church Close, Coltishall, NR12 7DH; 01603 736090.
When it comes to sea views, few places can beat Jay Jays @ the Beach. Right on the promenade, with the sand and sea just a stone’s throw away, it is a popular place to soak up the views all year round. Stop for a delicious hot chocolate, an ice cream or a hearty breakfast or fresh seafood from the large menu.
Jay Jays @ the Beach, Lower Esplanade, Gorleston, NR31 6QT; 01493 657001.
Backed by mature pinewoods and nestled behind the dunes, The Beach Café is a welcome sight after a day on the beach or a walk along the coastal path. With plenty of outside tables, there’s a great variety of hot and cold drinks, freshly made pastries, cakes and unmissable muffins. For the kids, the Beach Bites picnic selection, which comes in its own bucket to keep, is perfect for lunch. Dogs are welcome and there is a water point too.
The Beach Café, Beach Road, Wells, NR23 1DR; 01328 713055.
Walk through the fields of lavender, then treat yourself to a delicious farmhouse-style Norfolk breakfast.
The Restaurant Kitchen at the Lavender Farm has been recently renovated and is now run by Walsingham Farms Shop Partnership, boasting a fresh, seasonal, locally sourced menu. Just make sure you leave room for one its freshly baked lavender scones – they should not be missed.
The Lavender Kitchen Restaurant, Norfolk Lavender Trading, Caley Mill, Heacham, King’s Lynn, PE31 7JE; 01485 571965.
Head to Wiveton Hall Café, where a drink under the trees and the sight of the sea on a sunny day is a delight.
Multi-coloured tables outside are matched by the eclectic décor and art adorned walls inside. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, this café is a must-visit place on the coast. With delicious scones and much more, you will be spoiled for choice, and afterwards pick up a basket and head to the surrounding fruit fields to “pick your own” taste of the summer to take home with you.
Wiveton Hall Café, Wiveton Hall, Marsh Lane, Wiveton, NR25 7TE; 01263 740515.
Recently reopened, the new cafe at Whitlingham Country Park on the edge of Norwich, serves a great selection of teas, coffees and cakes – and has stunning views over the Great Broad.
The café runs a deli bar with sandwiches freshly made from speciality breads and baked potatoes with a choice of fillings. Work up an appetite in the 280-acre country park for a walk around the picturesque broads, meadows and woodland.
The Barn Café, Whitlingham Lane, Trowse, Norwich, NR14 8TR; 07502 316844.
Tweet and eat
We asked our Twitter followers @norfolkmagazine to recommend their favourite cafes and tearooms around the county. Here are some of their suggestions:
Big Blue Sky: “Very new and very simple Coffee Tea Toast at Wells-next-the-sea.”
Wayside Cottage: “You are in the right county for great tearooms. Traditional ones in Walsingham, fab pies and cakes at Great Walsingham Café.”
Debbie Copas: “Sugar & Spice in Bacton. No exciting sea view, but fabulous home baked cakes, lovely owner and dog friendly too.”
Katie Hughes Gulliver: “Castle Rising tea shop is lovely! As is Ceres in the bookshop at Swaffham.”
Lavinia King: “Bircham Windmill, Thornham Deli and Deepdale Café are some lovely ones round here.”
Eat Great Yarmouth: “Kirsty’s Cakery, Sara’s Tearooms, Yesterdays World are all lovely tearooms in great locations.”
Jonny B: “Bircham Windmill, of course. Not an original choice, but the best scones.”
Grey Seal Roastery: “I would suggest Art Café, Glandford, for great loose leaf tea, some of the best scones in Norfolk and, of course, our coffee.”