The heavens opened as we arrived in Berwick and I was starving. It was a while since we had lunch and it was nearly 2.30pm so my stomach was getting vocal. Judging from our initial trudge around the town, avoiding grim shops, meth addicts and bird-shit, we gambled that this would be the most exciting cafe we could find. We were right; like Katie Hopkins, this town is ugly and not nice (unless you walk on the medieval walls and head towards the beach).
There is no mention of ‘Taste of Northumbria’ outside; there is just a small signage of ‘Cafe’ (I think the larger sign had fallen off) and the frontage resembles something from the set of Last of the Summer Wine.
Still in the throes of Covid, an agreeable bemasked youth greeted us at a sanitising station, took our contact details and let us pick a ‘safe’ table. Luckily it was dead (bad choice of words), so we could evade the clutches of Mr Corona for the moment.
We ordered off a menu that was a bit ordinary considering it was Northumberland themed, unless they invented cheese toasties and jacket potatoes of course.
Not much of the area was evident in the cafe either. The walls were two-tone and above the dado-rail, a dark grey section displayed railway posters, daubs of cups, sketches of coffee pots intermixed with old enamel adverts for Daddies Sauce and Bisto. A large incongruous ethnic world map dominated one wall next to wooden shelves supporting jars, plants and bottles. These actually looked fairly smart.
The floor was boarded and chairs were the black vinyl upholstered with wooden legs type looked like they fell off Steptoe’s cart. There was no music but the door was open so the sound of the street and the behind-the-counter action meant it wasn’t funeral parloury. Maybe I should stop mentioning death?
We slurped on an acceptable couple of soya lattes and picked at a bacon sandwich tasting better than it looked, resembling the creation of an angry vegetarian.
A few other punters came into the shop. One dour Scotsman (is there any other kind?) waved his potentially infected handkerchief around, barked at the poor waiter then left to have a drag of something outside. Ten minutes later, in entered another of his kin who was polite but even more miserable than the first, looking like he had just been told by his surveyor that his house was about to slide into the ocean. He seemed to be giving the waiter the glad-eye but was subtlety rebuffed, seeming about as interested in him as I am in a knitting channel on Sky.
The counter was interesting, with lots of teas and paraphernalia on it including some cakes that looked they were made by me… five years ago.
The young waiter was not a zombie type (death again!) and was quite attentive. I asked about the local accent, the town being very close to the Scottish border. He said the accents are a hybrid of Geordie and Scots. “Och aye, hadaway and shite” I thought as I paid the bill. Not sure whether to leave a tip or be Scottish. 🙂
Good: Decor, service
Bad: Authenticity, prices, it’s grim out, passing (rough) trade.