Bilby Bites - the food blog from Bilby Marketing

The Coffee Rush, Shaldon

We awoke on a Sunday morning in late October to find that a little winter weather had hit us overnight. The rain was falling and the wind was picking up. I didn’t feel justified in complaining as we have had a very good run of relatively warm weather over the last few months so it had to change at some point. Anyway, there is a reason for me giving you a belated weather report (you can’t beat a chat about the weather) and that is because it actually motivated me to find somewhere new and lovely to explore where JC and I could find a coffee and a slice of cake in a bid to embrace my mellow Sunday morning vibe. Tapping away in bed on the laptop I discovered The Coffee Rush in Shaldon which boasted the runner-up prize in Devon Life’s 2009 Best Tearoom/Coffee Shop. At the time I didn’t spot the words Runner Up, but as I had wanted to visit Shaldon for many years and had previously never got my act together to do so, it seemed like a great place to head for.

Shaldon is about a half an hour away from us in Exeter and the drive on this wet and windy Sunday morning wasn’t at all stressful. I was in a good mood which is a positive start. I’m always happy when I am getting ready to explore new places and there is a slice of cake at the end of the journey. We parked in the Ness Car Park which feels like it will be a million miles from the village, but it is much more central than you first realise. The rain thankfully held off when we got out of the car although the walk along Marine Parade was quite stimulating in that the waves crashing against the harbour wall were doing their best to jump over and saturate us. My relationship with nature is generally a little unstable – I adore being out when the sun is shining and there is a slight breeze, but when the rain starts to hammer down and the wind picks up I run indoors. I am not, nor will I ever be, a hardy, outdoorsy type no matter how hard I try. This morning however, nothing could dampen my mood if you’ll excuse the pun.

We made the 5 minute journey from the car to the cafe unscathed, if a little damp, and found The Coffee Rush in the centre of the village with it’s welcoming cornflower blue woodwork and Art Deco signage. Once inside I felt very much at home as the décor was right up my street – Art Deco pendant lighting, vintage painted metal furniture, white wood panelling, wood flooring and at the back of the café an intimate area with sofas. A clever and large bunch of friends had pipped us at the post for the sofas and sounded as if they were having a wonderful time whilst we were there. Eyeing up the cakes on the counter, I suddenly morphed into my awkward customer role, asking the lovely lady serving me if I could possibly have 2 half pieces of cake in order to try more than one. This wasn't a problem at all, although I afterwards realised I probably ruined the portion sizes completely. Oops. The coffee choice was obvious - JC always has an Americano sans milk and I almost always have a latte. The Coffee Rush doesn’t offer coffee flavourings so my vanilla addiction wasn’t satiated on this occasion, but I’m used to there only being a 50/50 chance I will get this when I venture into a new café. My cake indecision came as a result of both the range and the presentation as they are all displayed beautifully on cake stands with glass domes, but I finally decided on a half-slice (awkward woman that I am) of the orange & pistachio cake and a half-slice of the lemon drizzle cake. JC went for the coffee and walnut cake.

I will try not to rant too much about how amazing these cakes were, but I need to do so to some extent given that this is a food blog and I honestly haven’t had a slice of cake this good in a very long time. In fact I’m hard pressed to think of the last time I enjoyed cake this much unless I count the honey wholemeal cake I baked recently out of the Hugh Fearnley-Whittinstall Everyday cookbook which blew me away. Anyway, I digress. The orange & pistachio cake was incredible – moist, tangy, a touch savoury from the nuts of course and utterly moreish. The lemon drizzle cake was also very good with the same gorgeous moistness as if it had been soaked in a syrup, but without losing it’s cakey texture if you get my drift. I often find that lemon cakes are a little insipid as if for some insane reason people are holding back on making them too lemony, but I like my lemon cake to be zingy and buttery and this one performed very well.

The menu is perfect for the size of the café (they couldn't seat too many people as it's fairly small), offering a range of paninis, bagels & sandwiches (all around the £5 mark), with fillings such as brie & cranberry and goat’s cheese & devon chutney, as well as baked potatoes, home made soup (bacon & leek on the morning we were there for £3.90) and various blackboard specials which can include anything from gourmet pies or savoury tarts to salads. The café also operates as a wine bar from 6-10.30pm every Thursday, Friday and Saturday so the drinks menu also includes wine, beer and cider if you fancy an alcoholic tipple with your lunch. Luscombe organic juices, a good selection of teas, hot chocolate (dark or white versions!), smoothies and milkshakes complete the liquid element of the menu. If the gorgeous spread of cakes doesn’t appeal to your sweet tooth then you can choose from locally produced ice cream or perhaps a cream tea instead. Children are catered for with a Baby Chino on offer (50p) and Cadbury’s Hot Chocolate (£1.60). This is not a place where children would feel left out I can assure you. There is even a basket of toys to keep them happy while they sip their Baby Chino.

As we paid for our Sunday morning treat I was told that the cakes were made by local ladies in the village (often in an Aga) which I thought was fantastic. This is a lucky village I can tell you. The cakes are priced at £2.60 per slice and our coffees were £1.95 each for a medium cup, so for £4.55 per person we were provided with a little slice of heaven for an hour or so. This seemed like an absolute bargain to me. I look forward to heading back there again for lunch in the near future. Shaldon is a pretty place to spend some time and I felt a tad jealous of the inhabitants as we made our way back to the car through the increasingly wintery weather, passing several other interesting looking places to eat and drink along the way. Shaldon is now on my very long list of places I wouldn’t mind living!

The photo of the cakes is borrowed from the website of The Coffee Rush.