Lemana Café is a lovely place, tucked off in the High Street in Lymington, on the southern edge of the New Forest. It’s a place I’ve been aware of for a while, but never had the chance to visit, even though I go down that way once year on my way to Christchurch. However, I always go down the A35, by-passing Lymington, but this time I decided to take the detour down the A337 and was very glad that I did (if you are travelling by train, Lymington has its own branch-line down from Brockenhurst on the Bournemouth line).
A family-run affair, with mum, dad and six siblings all playing a part, Lemana Café is the sort of place that every town should have. The food is lovely, the homemade cakes are even better and the coffee’s pretty good too. Don’t come here expecting the latest third-wave single-origin espresso or a fancy pour-over though (although the staff will happily rustle up a ristretto, macchiato or flat white if you want). Do come here for a warm, friendly welcome in lovely surroundings, with great food and excellent cake.
November 2018: I’ve updated my post on Lemana. This is the original write-up, published in February 2014. For an up-to-date description, please see the updated entry, while you can see what’s changed in my two Coffee Spot Updates.
I wrote the first update in 2015, after Lemana had rebranded to Lemana Coffee & Kitchen, while also switching roaster to Has Bean. The second came after my visit in 2018, with Lemana under new management and using local roaster, Coffee Monger’s Roasting Company.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery, which includes pictures from both my original visit in 2013 and my return in 2015.
Lemana Café is one of those places that it always very active on twitter, which is how I found about it in the first place. It takes a little bit of finding, but is definitely worth the effort. Tucked away down a passageway off Lymington’s very long High Street, I called in for a late lunch with a couple of friends one winter afternoon in November, cunningly timing our arrival so that we would miss the lunchtime rush, but just sneak in before closing time (okay, I admit it, we set off late).
The café itself has been there since 2010 and is very much a family affair. It was Rachel who had the original idea of starting a family-run café and then talked her parents and siblings into joining her/investing in the business. I was lucky enough to meet Rachel (the voice behind the twitter account) who will usually be found in the kitchen, making the many cakes and cooking all the food, although sister Laura is behind the famous carrot cake. I also met Natalie, who made our coffee.
Lemana Café has a large outdoor seating area, although we decided to give it a miss and sat inside on our visit. Even though the sun was shining, it was still pretty nippy outside! However, come the summer, I suspect it will be a lovely place to sit, especially since it’s off the High Street, so there should be no problems with traffic which can plague so many outdoor seating areas.
Inside is equally pleasant, with an eclectic range of chairs and tables ranging from a pair of comfortable armchairs to some large six-person tables. The seating is all to the left when you come in, while to the right you’ll find the counter sagging under the weight of all the cake. Even on late on a Thursday afternoon, the choice of cake on display was somewhat overwhelming.
However, we had come for food (first) and the choice was equally wide. I ordered my usual (when Eggs Florentine isn’t on the menu) which is a vegetarian cooked breakfast (even if it was three in the afternoon!). My friends had a cheese platter (and something else which for some reason I didn’t write down and didn’t think to photograph). Both were excellent, but the real treats were to come and we tucked into a couple of slices of excellent cake. Mine was lemon and Lise had coffee and walnut (Matt, strangely, passed on cake, but did order a hot chocolate to go). I also had a double shot ristretto to wash it all down. This was a very old-fashioned, dark roast espresso, quite bitter and strong.
We then spent a while chatting with Rachel, who told us all about her various exploits for charity (she has previously jumped out of aeroplanes and this year is hiking down the Grand Canyon). She also explained the philosophy behind Lemana, which is to be as much of a community café as possible, while at the same time catering to the obvious tourist rush in the summer (when the opening hours are extended). Lemana also tries to source locally and from other independents if it can and is part of a strong group of local independent businesses flying the flag for Lymington.
|24B HIGH STREET • LYMINGTON • SO41 9AD|
|www.lemana.co.uk||+44 (0) 1590 677712|
|Monday||09:00 – 17:00||Roaster||Unknown (espresso only)|
|Tuesday||09:00 – 17:00||Seating||Tables, Tables outside|
|Wednesday||09:00 – 17:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Cake|
|Thursday||09:00 – 17:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||09:00 – 17:00||Cards||Visa, Mastercard|
|Saturday||08:30 – 17:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||10:00 – 16:00||Power||Yes|
|Chain||No||Visits||Original: 21st November 2013|
|Updates: 19th November 2015, 23rd November 2018|
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