Coffee and Cheese

21 Sep

For those who have heard me rave about various cafes, this choice of first place to review may be a little surprising.  Especially as the venue’s name would not suggest cake.  Perhaps that is with good reason.

Not sure why I felt the urge for a cheese scone, but there it was.  It may have been the memory of the one I ate at the weekend or maybe it was the lingering odour of Ed’s fart (for anyone who doesn’t know, Ed is a dog.  not my husband.  though my husband’s farts are worse).  So using the excuse of needing to get a Halti head collar for Ed (glad I specified he was my dog and not my husband or that would have taken this blog down a whole new line) and deciding I’d go to the pet shop in Castle Road rather than traipse across town to the retail park, a cafe trip could easily be built in.

Castle Road is one of the nice bits of Bedford.  For the record, there are only two nice bits of Bedford – Castle Road and Embankment.  They run parallel to each other so its probably not a coincidence.  Its the sort of place that makes you think you are in a posh suburb of London, which doesn’t necessarily make it sound good to some people, but to me, it is.  It has everything I want – numerous cafes, Spanish food, Italian Deli (ridiculously cheap and gives great hints on Limoncello), reclaim shop, art shop and an old book shop.  Haven’t actually been in the book shop but I like that its there.  To give a further clue of the sort of place it is, it also has a shop called ‘country pursuits’, which is where I was going to get the Halti.

But first the important stuff – coffee and cheese scone.  Which leads to …. the review:

The Cheese Kitchen (http://www.thecheesekitchen.co.uk/) is half cafe/half shop, selling as the name would suggest a huge variety of cheese.  I could also have bought chilli jam (nearly did as misread the price tag as £1.35 but it was actually £3.35, no jam should be over £3.00); wine; triangle shaped oat cakes or giant olives from a huge wooden bowl on the counter.

Reading material:  Independent and 220 Triathlon magazine – I could comment on this odd choice, but all I can think is that having gorged on the scones a normal person would need to do something fairly extreme to burn the calories.  I’d brought my own paper and magazine (another odd thing – in the shop across the road, most of the papers were hidden by a copy of the Daily Mail over each pile of Sun, Times, Express etc.  Is this some new marketing ploy on the part of the DM or a special protest by a local resident?)

Seating: the majority of seating is outside.  Which makes it dog friendly – in fact when we popped in at the weekend there was no space outside as it appears Cheese Kitchen is the preferred stopping point for labrador and retriever owners (Country Pursuits seems to know its market).  As it was a little chilly and threatening rain, I opted for the bench seats in the window, which does give the option of people watching and make you feel like a kid as the seats are really high and you can swing your legs (or you can if you are only 5′ 4″, taller people may struggle with this, I feel sorry for them.  Swinging your legs while on a high seat is right up there with swirling round when you where a sticky out skirt and pretending to be a pony when you run and noone is looking.)

Coffee:  large is giant.  So giant that it took all of the scone, a long wait while a couple of people were served and then a slice of cake to finish it.  I went for latte (flat white hasn’t made it to Castle Road yet).  mid strength, very hot, good flavour.  A perfectly acceptable coffee though nothing spectacular.

Savoury:  the Cheese Scone (I’m using capital letters as it deserves it).  today they warmed it and buttered it for me, at the weekend I had it cold so I’ve tried both ways.  Either is good:  warm it was slightly chewy but easy to devour in high speed; cold the flavour of the cheesy top made the mouth burn in that ‘really good cheddar and possibly hint of mustard’ sort of way.

Cake:  this was the downfall.  I wanted the rhubarb crumble cake slice, but was too late.  Instead I went for carrot cake – so disappointing was it that I didn’t even finish it.  The cake was too damp, it looked like a sponge rather than having the ‘mixed up’ texture carrot cake usually has.  Weirdly it had no nuts in it.  I know that they are probably catering to the ‘tick list’ of Castle Road children (private school, dance lessons, Kumon maths, musical instrument, food allergy) but no nuts, in a carrot cake?  frankly, that is nuts.  Worse, the topping was sweet and cloying.  Cream cheese frosting needs a slight sharp hint to it, this was like sugar cream clinging to my teeth.

Overall impression:  worth the visit for the scone, but if you want something sweet and cake-like, I’d try elsewhere.  Disappointingly, the main reason for my visit to the area was for a halti but Country Pursuits was closed so I still had to traipse over to the retail park.  But at least I had the scone.

For the record – Ed hates the Halti.

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One Response to “Coffee and Cheese”

  1. J September 21, 2011 at 6:33 pm #

    Hmmm… If I were a cynical man I’d question whether this blog is a noble act of sharing your thoughts with the masses and spreading the gospel of Flat White, or if it’s just a thinly veiled attempt to establish yourself as Bedford’s premier cake critic, thereby ensuring cafe owners fall over themselves to give you VIP service and free pie. If it’s the latter, be aware that power corrupts, and even the noblest of us are only a forkful of frosting away from becoming some sort of crumb-chinned mussolini.

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