I used to think that, if you ever need a good cup of tea without paying a fortune, you should head for the market or the bus station. If you fancy some decent cake aim for a church fete or community cafe. Bus stations have changed significantly; markets are struggling and there aren’t many operating every day. Churches too are showing dwindling attendance.
So where now for a guaranteed decent cuppa?
In recent reviews I’ve tried Ardens, Alexa Lauren, and Pomeroys in search of the perfect cafe. This week I tried Escape. The cafe is located opposite the bus stops on the high street. It’s the nearest my town has to a bus station cafe. To be fair it’s quite non-descript from the outside. The weather is cold and the rain is intermittent so the footfall is low too. On a day like today you need a cafe more than ever. When you get to know a place well you have cafes for each occasion and today’s the day for a cozy little place with steamed-up windows.
Escape isn’t that place but I like it. At the heart of all cafes is a need to do the basics right. For me it starts with coffee and is followed by the quality of freshly prepared food. Those seeking cake can look elsewhere. They have a selection but this is a breakfast and hot food place.
After doing a fair bit of walking I wanted a hot breakfast and they offer a Full English at £5.45 which is pretty competitive. I particularly like the reference to a “griddled egg” – I’m a fan of the griddle and it suggests New York diner meets roadside cafe (either will do for me). Thankfully there is only one variation on the breakfast – a small version which takes out one sausage and one rasher of bacon. After that we are in the territory of toast, sandwiches and croissant.
The ham and cheese croissant (£3.50) was chosen by my daughter. I don’t really get the combination and always expect a somewhat crushed and inadequate croissant with an overwhelming filling. This was nicely done and looked appetising. It was pronounced “good”.
I went for my favourite breakfast sandwich combination – bacon, egg and cheese (£5). It came in a baguette and was well filled with tasty, lean and well cooked bacon, just the right amount of cheese and the griddled egg lying across the top like a model selling cars at a trade show in the 1970s. It was a pretty egg with a still runny yolk and it gave me both the option and the challenge of getting it into the baguette. This is clever presentation. It shows off the cooking without the inevitable car crash image of runny egg in a sandwich.
Escape is a good basic cafe. It does what it says on the tin with a small menu at reasonable prices. The interior is comfortable if a little lacking in atmosphere. If offers free wifi, background music, and service was OK without being friendly. It has a licence to offer you something a little extra in your coffee if you would like. I’d like to think the ingredients are from local providers and when there is such a limited range I’d have expected there would be some reference to this on the menu.