Monday, 28 April 2014

Biddy at Hetherton's

I have often passed by Hetherton’s on The Broadway (near the clock tower) when rushing around town, but never got around to popping in. However, last week happened to be up that end of town and it was getting on for elevenses so it was an ideal opportunity to add to my list of tried and tested Newbury coffee shops. And what a good decision that was.

Hetherton’s have two shops, this one at The Kings Coffee shop (a 17th-century building) andanother at the other end of of town at 84 Bartholomew Street where this family-run businessmakeall its own bread and other goodies.

was met with a warm welcome by the friendly staff and a tempting display of breads, pastries and cakes. Somewhat predictably I went for my usual decaff Americano – and jolly good it 2as too – but ummed and aahed over the choice of cakes – would it be carrot cake or a Danish pastry, homemade shortbread or one of their enormous ‘eccy thumps’ (that’s an eccles cake to the uninitiated)? I wasn’t quite peckish enough for an eccy thump, so I finally settled on a piece of cherry shortbread. (My second good decision of the day within the space of five minutes!)

The decorative style of Hetherton’s coffee shop is modern-day shabby chic: a charming andeclectic mix of tables and chairs, with standard lamps (just like my nan once had!) adding to the homely atmosphere. There’s plenty of newspapers to browse andwhile catching up on the news, I couldn’t help but overhear as burly builders came in for their cappuccinos to go (and did one really ask for a skinny latte?) with a side order of bacon rolls.

So what else does Hetherton’s offer? One of their specialties is their savouries which looked (and smelled) gorgeous – flaky sausage rolls, fulsome pasties … yum. Their bread looked amazing too – not only is it made in their own bakery but they ‘keep it local’ by, for example, buying their flour from WantageNot quite so local, but commendably traditional, is their range of French breads, for which they get the flour from, well, France. But their free-rangeeggs come from  just up the road in Hampstead Norreys.  (You can find out where they source everything on a feature blackboard while enjoying your coffee ….)

If you want more than a snack there is a good menu (the breakfasts sound fab – everything from the hearty breakfast ‘fit for a king’ or a ‘doorstep challenge’ to porridge and, a personal favourite, eggs Benedictand there is a ‘specials’ lunches blackboard too. They also do a huge range of sandwiches, to eat in or take away. As well as such traditionalas cheddar cheese, ham and egg mayo, there were the tasty-sounding Wensleydale with carrot chutney, brie with red grapes, and prawn with avocado to name but three. They do buffet orders too – worth bearing in mind for functions.

When it was time to go, it was like a magnetic force dragging me towards those hot savouriesat the counter. Did I succumb? That would be telling …

Biddy x

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Biddy Takes Tea in Nicholas Wharf, West Mills

Nicholas Wharf? West Mills? Where’s that, I hear you cry?

If you live or work in Newbury, you probably pass by it all the time. It is the little street that runs between St Nicolas (without an ‘h’) Church and Lloyds Bank, and leads down to the canal.

There is a small handful of shops and businesses here – Limes beauty salon; Air Hair DesignJayne’s Sew & Sew (for all your tailoring and clothes alterations, including leathers). But of course, as you know I am something of an expert at sniffing out places to take refreshment, and there are two here: Mr Moo Juice and Tiy Tea Bar.

Mr Moo Juice has all sorts of drinks on offer, including coffees and teas – but you can guess what their speciality is! And they have every type, flavour and thickness of milkshake (oops, I mean mooshake) you could possibly want. Then there is a whole range of smoothies and even protein shakes. And be left in no doubt they are ‘udderly delicious’. (And if that is making you groan, it’s their words, not mine!)

Last week, however, I paid my first visit to Tiy Tea Bar. Now here’s somewhere special, somewhere different. Run by the charming Tze Mo and her husband Kevin, this is where Japanese and English cultures make a perfect combination. I chose to perch on a stool and watch the world go by in this peaceful spot overlooking St Nick’s while I perused what they have on offer.

And what a choice there is! There are speciality teas by the pot – for example Bai Mun Dan White or Gunpowder Green. They also have several caffeine-free options, and you know what I am like for getting a bit hyper on caffeine, so I went for this and tried the Honeybush – and how delicious it was. Very light, very refreshing, totally recommended.

They also serve hot or cold bubble fusion teas. How exciting does that sound? The base of this is either classic black, Jasmine green or baked oolong. This is then fused with a choice of raspberry jam (yes, really!), honey, lemon, grass jelly or tapioca pearls. The latter is apparently what this type of tea is most commonly served with – chewy, caramel flavour balls made from tapioca starch. The ‘bubble’ bit comes in because of the foam produced by shaking the whole lot in a cocktail shaker. Now, you have to give that a go, don’t you? I am going to next time, no doubt about it.

To enjoy alongside your tea there are some lovely cakes, all homemade by Tze Mo. I chose the gorgeous-looking Japanese cheesecake. And it tasted as gorgeous as it looked – light, moist and absolutely delicious. 

Tiy’s is popular with the lunchtime crowd; how about Udon soup with vegetables and dumpling noodles? They also make a whole range of sandwiches – and even serve cream teas.

By the way, if you are feeling less adventurous than yours truly, you are more than welcome to have a coffee, including Americanos, lattes and cappuccinos, or English teas. But I’d encourage you to try something different. Go on. I dare you.

Biddy x