EDitorial ± 12-Sep-2008

Light Lunches: Barn Cafe, Butley

I'm invariably a few minutes on the drag for our Friday outings, even more so on this particular Friday due to studying the map and directions provided by "OS" Andy. We're going where? Which is near what? Scott, our regular chauffeur, had also been perusing this same info. And could we agree whether to turn left or head straight at the Wilford Bridge roundabout? No sir, we could not. Left!, I strongly suggested. On your head be it, paraphrased the driver.

Pootling down the B1084 in the persistent precipitation, we eventually passed the Butley Oyster pub -- not to be confused with the Butley Oysterage (at Orford, of course) nor the Butt & Oyster pub (at Pin Mill). Right down Mill Lane at the Butley Barn sign, and The Barn Cafe is to your left: can't miss it, as I made a "told you so" face to Stanley SatNav at the wheel.

Met by Mr and Mrs Andy, we headed inside to the dry. This is a barn of a place -- clue's in the name -- all exposed beams and not-quite right angles. With no menus on the tables, it's eyes right to the blackboard behind the counter. Unsure what's meant by iman bayildi? Ask Jacki Smith, the barnstorming proprietor and one woman band, who held our hand and talked us through the deliberately limited options, changed daily. We um-ed, we ah-ed, we chose. And here's a basket of home-baked lavender & walnut bread to keep us going. Impressive. Having demolished that, out came an equally tasty thin cut soya & linseed loaf. Double yum.

In contrast to last week at the Cafe Bencotto, that "unhurried atmosphere" (as stated on the flyer) is very much the intention. Can't say we minded, esp. when our food emerged. Kidney bean goulash with minced beef for me, Moroccan chicken pie elsewhere. Hang on, she said, I'll fetch your veg. Our veg? Behold a large baking dish of exotic goodness, with shredded potato and rice and ginger and saffron and almonds, et cetera. That warm feeling in your stomach is foodie nirvana.

No time for pudd -- some of us have work to do, dagnabit -- though surely time for a quick jolt. Espresso, please, I asked the nice lady. We don't do fancy coffee here, she replied, this is Butley! Hang on, we're just off the edge of nowhere and we've just eaten a truly memorable meal. Any B-road up, the no-nonsense cafetiere was perfectly OK. Message of the week: visit the barn, but call ahead first on 01394 450800 to ensure they're open. You'll love it.

If it was a car -- BMW M5.
If they were passing by -- Miriam Margolyes.