EDitorial ± 20-Nov-2014
Light Lunches: Old Stores, Tuddenham
Incoming message arrives via that Twitter thang and, gratifyingly, it contains news of import. New cafe. Stop. Out of town. Stop. You ain't seen me, right? Stop. Then they hit the 140 character limit. I'm not revealing his (or her) identity for his (or her) own good. Cheers, Martin (or Martina).
Glorious solar-powered autumnal day of the eleventh month as we pootle past pricey Milsoms and possibly pushing-up-the-daisies Admiral's Head. More twisty turns takes us to Tuddenham, famous for The Fountain pub, then ta-da, there's The Old Stores. Situated on a nasty junction, there's good-sized parking round the back, which is nice. Follow the SHOP signs by the soggy outdoor seating but pay your respects to whoever organised that hyper-efficient log pile, a wintry wooden wonder. Through the door and you're in Narnia.
Overdoing it, you think? Warmth from a log burner (naturally), twinkly lights, fabulous foodie smells and a jolly Scottish greeting from the lady behind the counter. Gents, she says, we don't do much savoury but we can offer you carrot and coriander soup, homemade pork pie or Scotch egg. What'll it be? Choices made, we go to find about the only free seating in the house, some high chairs at the far wall. It would seem there are many ladies lunching on this particular Friday lunchtime. As ever, we endeavour to blend in.
So much to see -- glasses, mirrors, frames, jewellery -- that we're still playing mental I-Spy when the lady presents our blue china plates with dressed leaves, egg for me, pie for him, plus petite portion of chutney. Like this whole room, thought has been applied. Nice 'n' light 'n' yummy. Chatting to Mrs Mac, she informs us that this building was a former chapel and that certain bits remain, such as flooring now converted to a wall covering. Dead atmospheric like the much-missed Cook's Shed.
House special would appear to be cake in its many incarnations. Sweet items cover the counter top from brownies to mince pies and scones to carrot cake with pistachio. Andy goes for the unusual Guinness cake. I opt for the sticky toffee sponge. Both are spot-on, especially since they know what they're doing with their flat white too. One of those venues where I'm a little bit reluctant to write about it and share the secret. Excellent stuff.