DISH DETECTIVE: Deli-cious lunch in historic market town
On a sunny day it's a treat to find a cafe that serves good food with a courtyard that whisks you away from the daily grind.
Tucked behind The Natural Deli on High Street, Bishop’s Waltham, is an idyllic little garden that gets the right amount of sun to enjoy a leisurely lunch.
The cafe scene in this historic market town has upped its game with independents like The Natural Deli, Josie’s further down High Street and Sweet Corner which has moved from its corner location to a more central spot with space outside for chairs and tables, giving Costa a run for its money.
I’ve eaten in The Natural Deli before, enjoying courtyard lunches with friends and also sat in the main cafe on duller days. But today my lunch date is a little person in a pushchair.
The courtyard, although smashing with friends and accessible for wheelchairs and buggies from the side, is tricky solo with a pushchair as the ‘order at the counter’ service would involve negotiating steps back into the building once a table had been secured and food chosen.
The cafe is busy on this Thursday lunchtime but we opt for the table at the front so we can people-watch.
Disappointingly, no help is forthcoming from staff to aid us up the few steps into the main cafe, but then it’s busy and lunchtime so kind of forgivable.
The service at the counter was better – a friendly, smiling woman who was being kept busy by a stream of customers wanting takeaway lunch or coffee (they serve Moonroast Coffee from Hampshire and operate a buy eight and get one free reward scheme).
The menu boasts an array of healthy food displayed in a deli counter. There are salads, couscous and falafels which you can mix and match in a salad bowl, and breakfasts, sandwiches, wraps and toasties. We go with the quiche (£6.45) – today’s choice is either mushroom leek and stilton, or ham sweetcorn and tuna – both look delicious and hand-made.
We go for the veggie option. It arrives hot with a side salad drizzled with balsamic vinegar, with spiralised carrots, spinach and beetroot plus a pink coleslaw.
It lives up to its tasty appearance and there’s just the right amount of stilton to give flavour but not overpower the veg.
There’s an impressive range of hand-made cakes too, all displayed on the top of the counter. Today’s choices include one called Hummingbird with pineapple banana and pecan; a gluten-free cherry and pistachio cake; carrot cake; lemon drizzle loaf; lime and coconut cake; flapjacks; brownies and a gluten-free vegan cashew and date slice.
The Hummingbird (£2.95) grabs our attention with its tropical flavours and white icing. It too lives up to its appearance and is delicious – a large helping which is naughtily sweet; thank goodness there’s free water with cucumber to help wash it down.
After lunch we move to one of the two street tables to enjoy a beauty elixir smoothie (£3.50) – a mix of carrots, papaya, pineapple and goji berries. It’s refreshingly tasty and perfect for the sunny day.
This is a cafe doing good healthy food and drink well. Not only has it got the lunch trade and takeaway game cracked, but it also sells a range of healthy produce including Pip and Nut butter, freshly-baked sourdough and gluten-free bread and the natural handwash Yope (try it in the loo – it smells great).
It’s also licensed, selling ale and beer from organic Laverstoke Park Farm in Hampshire, cider from Mr Whitehead’s Cider Company at Alton and the Winchester-distilled Twisted Nose gin.
Our bill comes to just under £13 and we’ve whiled away a lovely lunchtime in a beautiful town. Well worth a visit.
RATINGS (out of five)
Tel: 01489 896600