After weeks of sunshine and broiling temperatures, the heavens opened and for the first time this summer torrential rain returned to wreck a bank holiday.
I don’t know about you but on a dank, drizzly day I want nothing more than comfort food, a cup of tea and a cosy café.
Lilly’s at Wickham ticks all these boxes and as you walk through the door you are greeted by a counter of delicious-looking cakes and pastries. This constitutes a warm welcome in my book.
Once I had finished deciding which cake I wanted for dessert, your Dish Detective and his accomplice were shown through to the main room which felt like we had wandered into the shabby chic living room of a country house.
We were instantly offered a hot beverage and a big teapot with matching tea sets arrived (lord knows, I love a matching tea service).
Thanks to a heavy bank holiday night, Dish Detective had not crawled out of bed early enough to make the breakfast slot which ended at 11.30am.
However, a good-value Full English at £8.50 would tempt me back on another occasion, naturally accompanied by tea with a matching cup and saucer (have I mentioned my love for matching tea sets?).
Time to confess, this is a café I have visited previously, but there’s been a menu shake-up. Before, there were just sandwiches with crisps or chips options. Now the menu has an extra page complete with several restaurant options including wild mushroom and spinach risotto and crumbled blue cheese (£10.95) and garlic and thyme corn-fed chicken with chunky chips and house coleslaw.
A risotto does seem somewhat odd in the surroundings but it obviously does well here.
If it’s carbs you’re after there are several sandwichs which include Lilly’s brie, bacon and cranberry, or tuna and cucumber.
All are served with salad and crisps and even though the crisps are Tyrells it does seem quite dear at £9.95 – especially as the main dishes are only £1 more and if you want chips you had better find another £3.
So, good value for money on mains, but if you’re just in it for the sandwich best pop to the Tesco across the street.
I opted for the steakburger with fries, salad and special sauce (£11.25) to which I added bacon and cheese – extras which were 50p each.
A large mushroom, hash brown and avocado were also available to fully customise the burger.
A cheeseburger does seem like the wrong type of food to be eating in a shabby chic living room (god forbid I dropped some bacon grease on a decorative pillow) but it was juicy and the special sauce was, well, special.
For me the bacon was not crispy enough but as we all know bacon is a controversial one and some people enjoy the fatty-barely-cooked-pink life.
My accomplice chose the char-grilled pork steak with pan-fried bubble and squeak with fried egg, grilled tomato and mushroom (£10.95).
It arrived slightly pink with bloody juices (kids, don’t eat pork rare) the waitress quickly resolved the situation by returning to the kitchen returning with a cooked one.
To round off the meal I returned to that cake counter. I had a warm scone with cream and jam (which came on a plate matching the tea set – such a joy).
As you would expect the café also offers afternoon tea at £15, which can be upgraded to include a glass of fizz for another £5.95, but if one of your party instead has a hankering for a juicy burger then is probably the perfect compromise.
Lilly’s, The Square, Wickham
Tel: 01329 830305
(ratings out of five)