UPDATE 14/09/2018 & 15/11/2018: See bottom of post
I was meant to be having lunch with my sister but had to get home for 12 so that meant breakfast instead. We decided upon Southwick Village Stores & Tearoom as it wasn’t too far to travel. Plus we’d been recently to the village’s D-Day Revival weekend and popped into the newly opened tearoom which on the day were serving only drinks and cakes.
The store and tearoom have had a major refurbishment and they look lovely, a vast improvement. The food in the store is displayed really well and looks fab. The tearooms are lovely too, light and airy with comfy padded seats. Upon the walls are photos of Churchill and on one large wall a map of D-Day. Southwick House is the place where the decisions on D-Day were made.
We had gone as a family to the Southwick D-Day Revival weekend back in June. We’d never been before and really enjoyed it. We had pre-booked and paid to go to the house to see the map room. We parked in a field, got picked up in an old bus and taken to the house. The map room was very interesting and the chap who spoke was excellent. Then we took a look at the museum which was also very good and very informative. This is the only time you get to see both the map room and museum, it’s not open to the public otherwise so be sure to book for next year. Lots of people were dressed up in old army gear riding old army folding bicycles and ladies dressed up in 40’s clothing pushing funny little old perambulators with their children in, it was great.
After our visit to the house and map room we popped into the tearoom which had been opened for only 5 days. I must admit that we weren’t terribly impressed with the cakes that day, they were prepackaged in polystyrene boxes in the fridge – I can understand why as it was SO busy, they did it for quickness – but cardboard boxes would have been better for the environment and nicer to look at – but the cakes themselves were obviously from a large bakery and not really what I would call ‘homemade’. You can tell just by looking at them. I went for the Victoria sponge and my sister Gill, husband Geoff and my father had the carrot cake, we all agreed that none were particularly good.
I returned a couple of weeks later for just a coffee – which was a very nice flat white – whilst cycling home a week later and noticed that their food menu would launch on Monday 26th June. We sat in the garden at the rear of the tearoom which is tidy and quite large with several picnic benches, only a couple with parasols though. No flowers (although they did have quite a few for sale at the front of the store at reasonable prices), perhaps that’s their new project. NB: Summer 2018 the garden looked fantastic with enormous hanging baskets and flower beds. It’s a very good place to go to by bike, it’s easy to get into the garden and your bikes shouldn’t get in the way of anyone.
Anyway, getting back to my third visit – see first paragraph.
We arrived just after 9 (when they opened) and there were a few people already in the tearoom. Service is very good and very friendly. We went for the scrambled egg on toast with bacon at 50p extra. Breakfasts finish at 12, the lunch menu has jacket potatoes and sandwiches and soup of the day, today’s being potato & leek.
Strangely enough the butter came on the side whereas the eggs and bacon were already on top of the toast. We just had to scrape it all off and try and spread the hard cold butter and replace it all. The thick white bread was nice and fresh and not too toasted. The scrambled eggs were lovely too, not runny. The bacon I would have preferred to have been a little crisper, perhaps if I’d asked beforehand they would have done this for me I’m sure. However, the bacon was nice.
We decided to share a slice of lemon cake, although again none of the cakes looked very inspiring to us. At first glance the lemon slice looked soggy on top but it wasn’t. Funnily enough we both looked up as we started eating and said exactly the same thing “it’s a bit dense”!
Here’s a top tip for tearooms and cafes who want good cakes…get together some of the local villagers, many of whom I would think are elderly and probably don’t bake anymore as they have no one else to eat a whole cake with, try them all and perhaps have a rota, get some you can freeze easily in case someone is away on holiday or ill and not being able to bake for some reason. Either pay for the cake/s or let the person who made it have a slice along with a free drink or more. Compton Village Shop and Tearoom do this I believe or they used to anyway (not sure about the free drink bit or whether they pay them, I’m just suggesting that). I suppose if you don’t like someone’s baking you’ve then somehow got to tell them and perhaps they’ll never step foot inside your shop again, but that’s the risk you take, how do you tell a nice little old lady that actually her cakes are inedible. I think it’s a good idea anyway. And I’m sure they’ll be light and fluffy and not all looking uniformly sliced and so much like the other tearoom up the road (there isn’t one, this is just an analogy). Our favourite place to go to for cake is Manna in Old Portsmouth, where they bake them on the premises and are to die for, you’ll find the best ever carrot cake there too.
Gripe over. But, although I shall indeed return to Southwick Village Store & Tearoom it won’t be for cake * cakes are much better now! I could have sworn the side of the coffee cups said ‘Southampton Coffee Roasters‘ on them but I can’t find a roaster with that name, whoever the roasters are it was very nice *found them /\.
It sounds like a moany old post doesn’t it and maybe I’m getting more critical in my old age but I did like the tearooms, just not their cakes and it wasn’t just me who thought the same. Sort the cakes out and it’ll be much much better.
Quality 7 – let down by cakes
Overall – 7 – ditto /\
Living life loving cake – just not this cake * see updates below
UPDATE: 15/11/2018: I visit Southwick Tearooms fairly frequently now, they even remember what I drink and yes, I now have cake! Millionaire shortbread and flapjacks are the ones I usually go for but their cakes don’t look like they did when they first opened, they look much better and more homemade now. The one I had yesterday was simply divine, it was so good I was tempted to have another…and another. The Caramac cupcake was delicious, the sponge was light and moist, there may have been Caramac bits in the sponge (or it could have been butterscotch bits) but if there was then it had melted (which is fine, I just meant that after biting into it, that’s what it looked like), the buttercream topping was just the right amount of sweetness and on the top was a slice of Caramac.
UPDATE: 14/09/2018: We frequent the tearoom fairly regularly. The cakes appear to have got better but they wouldn’t let me have the flapjack in the display cabinet I pointed at (it was an end piece and I like those as they’re usually a bit crunchy around the edges). I had to have one from underneath the chilled cabinet which was inside a Tupperware-type container, so I declined and just had a coffee and did so for several weeks. Sounds childish of me maybe but I couldn’t really see the problem. We’ve had breakfast recently which was very nice but usually I stop just for a coffee. No Wi-Fi!!