I’m struggling to describe the Oystercatchers Café. It’s a charming, old-fashioned British café with lovely wooden floors, tables and chairs. Then again, it’s a modern coffee shop with sofas and free wifi. It serves an old-fashioned Full English Breakfast, but caters to modern tastes with Panini and lattes. Then again, it serves treacle-sponge pudding…
And so it goes. In other words, it’s a pretty mainstream British café, where the Panini and latte have become as quintessentially British as Chicken Korma.
The main thing about the Oystercatchers Café is that it’s been done with love, care and passion. It’s pretty obvious from the greetings that people get as they walk in the door that, as well as attracting visitors who are just passing through, this place is popular with the locals. In fact, if there’s one thing that makes it instantly stick in my head, it’s that feeling of community. Of being in and contributing to the community, not something you get in places that cater exclusively to the tourist trade.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Teignmouth was somewhere I used to come every summer when I was a child. However, it’s been almost 30 years since I was last here and so when I decided to spend a few days in the south-west of England on Coffee Spot duties, a return to Teignmouth was high on my list. I came here for mainly nostalgic reasons and a desire to walk to coastal path to Dawlish (if the Coffee Spot starts sounding dangerously like a travel blog, please let me know!). However, it was raining, I’m a wuss and so I ended up in the gem that is the Oystercatchers Café instead. I can’t help thinking that I won out in the end…
I came for lunch and due to a combination of the weather, the welcome, the coffee and the tempting cakes, I stayed for afternoon coffee and cake. The opportunity to recharge my laptop and use the free wifi might also have contributed to the decision. In fact, the only reason I didn’t stay all afternoon is that out of season it closes as three and I could tell that the staff were keen to go home!
I apologise for the lack of pictures of my lunch; it looked so nice that I ate it before remembering to photograph it! I did a better job of my espresso and cake, but not without problems (see below).
It’s always a good sign when you find the owner in the café as a customer. In this case, it was Jan, who’d popped in with a friend and was sitting in the corner next to me, chatting with over a pot of tea. She bought the Oystercatchers Café a few months ago, having been the cook for several years. Recognising that there was something special about the place, she explained that her main motivation in taking over was to ensure that someone else didn’t come in and change it (don’t worry, I wasn’t eavesdropping, we had a chat before she left).
The whole encounter very much encapsulated the informality of the Oystercatchers Café. Indeed, “informality” was Jan’s description and actually sums up the Oystercatchers Café far better than I’ve been struggling to do. “Welcoming” is the other word I’d choose. It sounds stupid; why wouldn’t you welcome people to your café? But there are plenty of places where I haven’t felt welcome (they’re the ones that don’t make it into the Coffee Spot). As a stranger, walking into the Oystercatchers Café, I was immediately made to feel welcome, not just by Jan, but by all the staff, who obviously care about the place as much as she does.
They even brought me another espresso after I dropped the first one on the floor while photographing it! Fortunately I created more mess than damage and the replacement looked every bit as good as the first. When I finally got around to drinking it, the espresso was pretty decent. I loved the cup and particularly the saucer and am much relieved that I didn’t break either of them through my clumsiness. The cupcake was lovely, as was my lunch (the quintessentially British Panini and latte).
I’m not sure when I’ll next be in Teignmouth, but when I am, I’ll be sure to make the Oystercatchers Café my first port of call.
|12 NORTHUMBERLAND PLACE • TEIGNMOUTH • TQ14 8DD|
|www.facebook.com/pages/Oystercatchers-Café /176185252429969||+44 (0) 1626 774652|
|Monday||08:00 – 15:00||Seating||Tables, Comfy Chairs, Sofas|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 15:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Cake|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 15:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Thursday||08:00 – 15:00||Cards||Visa, Mastercard|
|Friday||08:00 – 15:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Saturday||08:00 – 15:00||Power||A few|
|Sunday||08:00 – 15:00||Mobile||2G, Marginal Voice|
|Chain||No||Visits||29th October 2012|
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