If you are after a good full English fry-up, then keep reading. For the Dish Detective had heard about a great place in the most unlikeliest of places, so decided to pop down on a weekday to try it out.
According to locals, it’s the best place for miles to get quality cafe fare at reasonable prices. And after our recent visit, we can’t argue with that.
Dish Detective called by at Bert & Ernie’s Tearoom, with mother and toddler in tow. The cafe is at Shedfield Equestrian Centre, in Botley Road, Shedfield.
The equestrian centre is a mismatch of businesses, all in ramshackle buildings of differing styles and sizes, that have sprung up around its shop specialising in horse-related products.
Bert & Ernie’s is in a prefabricated unit near the entrance but inside they’ve decorated it nicely and you could be forgiven for thinking you are in a tearoom in one of the surrounding Meon Valley villages.
There are flowers on the tables, which have floral table cloths, bunting hanging up, chalkboards with specials, and a lovely display of cakes.
Plus there’s plenty of parking directly outside – and some tables for those who want to sit out in warmer weather.
But the best thing about Bert & Ernie’s is the welcome. There were several women working, all happy, all with cheery greetings, but all clearly hard at work.
The cafe was busy, a nice mix of tradesmen, families, dog walkers and couples on a day out.
We pick the jumbo breakfast (£7.75) – two eggs, two rashers of bacon, two sausages, black pudding, hash brown, tinned tomatoes, beans, mushrooms, toast and a cuppa.
Although we were tempted by the Scottish breakfast (£7.25) which comes with square sausage and a potato scone, we’ll save that one for another day.
Our companion goes for a cheese and mushroom omelette (£6.50) which comes with chips and salad. You can choose from a range of fillings – onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers, cheese, ham or bacon.
On the menu, there are also all the good cafe staples – bacon baps, paninis, toasties, sandwiches, jacket potatoes – you get the picture.
Our smaller companion goes for a bowl of chips (£1.50) and two rashers of bacon (£1), plus a Fruit Shoot.
All the food is cooked within sight, and is served quickly and efficiently. It’s piping hot and clearly fresh. Plus there’s plenty of it.
The salad is a good mix. The omelette large. Between us, we have more chips than we could possibly eat – and they are perfectly cooked with a crispy exterior and a mealy texture on the inside.
This is also a cafe that knows how to serve a fried egg. There are no crunchy sides here. They are expertly cooked.
This is a lunch fit for kings. No wonder there are tradesmen waving tenners in a constant stream ordering breakies.
Although we are fit to bursting, we have just enough room to share a slice of carrot cake after, which looks homemade and is delicious. Sweet and soft.
I take home a slice of flapjack for the other half, but don’t tell him as he still doesn’t know that I couldn’t resist and ate it the next day. It was wonderfully syrupy.
The cafe may not be on one of the most picturesque sites in the Meon Valley, but it certainly serves up good food at reasonable prices.
This is a cafe clearly run by experienced people, delivering decent portions and doing what a good cafe should – filling up the bellies of the locals. Definitely worth the drive out to the country.
Bert & Ernie’s is open seven days a week, from 8am until 3pm Tuesday to Saturday, and 9am until 2pm on Sunday and Monday.
Bert and Ernie’s Tearoom, Shedfield Equestrian Centre, Botley Road. 01329 832204
Ratings (out of five):