The Costa del Sidmouth
I always enjoy going to Sidmouth as it’s still feels like a traditional seaside town and being small means when you look out to sea you get a fine view along the coast in both directions. The town itself always reminds me of the home counties in the 1960s. A bit like a specialist theme park I suppose.
Sidmouth has a reputation for being a last resting place for the retired. You shouldn’t let that deter you, even if such does usually deter you. Sidmouth has a fine mix of cafes for all tastes from Marmite fingers in Fields Department Store to the one I can never remember the name of but used to meet a friend for lunch there. With summer ahead I think I will have do a bit of a survey!
Tea at the Riviera Hotel
This was recommend by a colleague as being a place for a fine tea and she was spot on! There is a choice of three teas in ascending order of price. You can have a traditional cream tea, or a teacake with fresh cake, or for the hardcore tea addict sandwiches, cake, and other teatime goodies. All come with a choice of teas from traditional to herbal.
I was with my parent, who is a hardcore tea addict, but we settled for the teacake and victoria sponge (I had pointed out how large the big tea was and the price of flowers). Everything was excellent. The sponge was impressively light and the filling of cream and chopped strawberries as fresh as could be. It was nearly a tenner each but worth the investment!
And the ambience then?
I liked the big reassuring sign at the front of the hotel letting you know afternoon tea was being served. No surprises or disappointments on arrival here! The service was very good; politely friendly and no hovering.
The room itself had enough small chandeliers to keep Liberace happy. The carpet was a bit on the bright side but the rest of the room was calmer, so you wouldn’t get hiccups. Well. unless you stared at the carpet a great deal. Plenty of large chairs and settees with something of a seventies reproduction furniture look, which rather suited the place.
I would say if you like afternoon tea this is a please to go when you are feeling a bit self- indulgent or extravagant. Or simply need a really good tea!
And another thing
The hotel has a large panoramic print of Sidmouth from c. 1840.The print shows the hotel as it was originally was – three separate houses. The amount of detail from clothes to the volume of thatched buildings away from the seafront and variety of dogs by the beach make a prolonged inspection worthwhile. I believe RAMM has a copy of this print too.
Another new cafe!
What is happening with all these new cafes popping up? More places for quality cafe time can only be good I say!
Route 2 is a new cafe in Topsham.
But is it quality cafe time?
Yes, for two reasons. One is good quality food and drink and the second is a bit radical. They say they are open from eight till eight and serve food all the time – and they are and they do! After going to so many cafes that either close early or stay open but put tables on chairs and clean around you with an hour to go before their advertised closing time, a cafe that is fully open as stated is a treat.
The cafe is busy too and the service is pleasant and attentive without being annoying. Their Dutch apple cake is excellent and is the real thing too. A good feature is that lcoal foods and wines are stocked. Including Topsham’s own Pebblebed Wines.
Continental in style, the cafe has strong and weak drink available and food is served all day. Close to the quay for parking or bus, and not far from the station either.
The name refers to the cycle route that runs through Topsham. You can hire bicycles from the cafe and either pedal up an appetite or fortify yourself for a long ride.
Topsham is a lovely place to visit and has good cycle routes and public transport links from Exeter too.
Last week I was meeting friends on holiday in North Devon, and Ilfracombe was a good spot to meet. Plus you can park near the harbour for £3 a day. So we arranged to meet at the Aquarium cafe.
First cafe of the day
The cafe at the Aquarium has a small outside area looking across the harbour. We sat out there and the benches around the edge give extra seating and space to put coats etc. They can also be used by small boys as a racetrack until the boy in question slipped over!
The verdict is friendly staff and good fairtrade coffee. It seemed used by locals too which I think is a good sign. We didn’t try the food so can’t comment on that.
We’ll go there again. Have to admit we didn’t go in the aquarium though – we went for chips so did see some fish that day …
Later that afternoon
Having done many holiday type things we were in need of tea. By the way, we recommend Tunnels Beach and seeing the Victorian wedding cake collection at the local museum. So we decided to try the Landmark Theatre cafe.
The Landmark Theatre does look like a couple of cooling towers from a distance but is a standard modern building inside. The cafe is quite big and has tables and benches outside with a sea view.
We had cream teas, well one of us had coffee instead of tea. The service was friendly and efficient. The scones were very good and nice fresh cream. The jam was mass produced in plastic containers so let things down a bit.
Happily go there again and the cafe had a photography exhibition one whilst we were there.