Opened in 2003, this cafe/book shop is located on the main square in town and is run by a South African couple called Steve and Deniece. They don’t do Biltong though, Bru. The cafe featured in a TV show a few tears ago where, under the guidance of a young entrepreneur, they transformed their ailing business into a thriving enterprise. The cafe is upstairs and book shop downstairs (as sort of Aparthied, sorry but I couldn’t resist that) but the caff, being more lucrative, has spilled downstairs too. Good thing because it is often a full capacity and it doesn’t help that this is housed in a wonky 16th century building.
So this has an interesting interior as you can wander around gaping at oak panelling and ‘vine’ ceilings if not browsing through the books on offer. If you are caught short though, there is no accessible lift or loo and it’s upstairs up a creaky winding staircase. The fairly basic facilities are down a crooked corridor where you expect to be passed by a headless Elizabethan ghost rather than the reality: a comatose teenage waitress carrying a cheese toastie.
Upstairs there are two rooms to sit in at tatty tables and a landing where you can lounge on sofas and read the books on the shelves (not sure if they charge you if you spill brown sauce on a Hilary Mantel) . Some seats are fairly uncomfortable making it feel like medieval torture but at least you can look through ancient windows down onto the square.
Menu wise it is mainly breakfasts, jacket potatoes, salads etc and the food is always hit and miss. Oh and so is the service. For example I ordered a gf toastie which was brought to me untoasted. The zombie waiter said ‘Oh it’s my fault’. ‘Well at least you’ve got that right!’ I thought. My partner’s jacket potato was excellent though to be fair.
Their website calls this place the ‘best bookshop in town’ – I assume this is tongue-in-cheek as it’s the only one and, unless you count WH Smiths or charity shops, is likely to be the only one in town unless it shuts down.
And they have events here too in the form of book signings and readings. I remember fellow South African Bruce Grobelaar being here to promote his book. In face he should come back but not even he could ‘save’ this cafe from mediocrity. Get it? Oh suit yourself.
Good: Interesting interior. Some food good.
Bad: Not accessible, cramped in places, uncomfortable, service.