Café Mila, just off Godalming’s historic High Street, is a wonderful spot. I’m embarrassed to confess that it’s taken me so long to discover it: after all, from my house it’s only a couple of hours’ stroll away across the Surrey hills, then down along the River Wey (or 10 minutes by train if you’re in a hurry). Nor can I plead ignorance; my friends in the area have been telling me to go there for a while now.
Café Mila will be celebrating its second birthday in October. Set up by South-African Steve and his wife Jane, what makes it so special is the combination of its setting (a courtyard just off the High Street) and the warm, welcoming atmosphere created by Steve and his cheerful staff. You can usually find Steve on the premises and I was also fortunate enough to meet Jane.
It helps that the coffee is good, while the cakes and food, all baked/made on the premises, are excellent. I liked it so much that I visited twice, once with a friend for Sunday brunch (which was excellent) and then again one afternoon the following week for a more extended visit.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Café Mila is a bright, cheerful place; helped by my visiting on two sunny summer days. However, I suspect that during winter it transforms itself into a warm, welcoming place instead. With plenty of outside tables in the modern courtyard off Godalming High Street, it’s the ideal place to sit outside, away from the traffic (both vehicular and pedestrian) and sheltered from the weather.
Inside you can sit upstairs or downstairs. Downstairs, you connect with the bustle of the café, with a constant stream of customers and the cheerful staff hard at work behind the counter, to your left as you come in. Five small tables, one big one and a lovely red sofa, are laid out in front of you and to your right. Beyond them, at the opposite end from the counter, are the stairs.
Café Mila has resisted the urge to cram too much in, so it’s spacious and bright. Wherever you sit, you don’t get the feeling that someone is looking over your shoulder. This is particularly true of the small round table in the corner under the stairs, my favourite spot when I can’t get the sofa! Upstairs is quieter, more relaxed. Split in two by the stairs, there’s a number of smaller tables complimenting a larger table on the left and another lovely sofa on the right.
The walls are decorated with paintings by local artists. Café Mila has shows three or four times a year where the works are for sale. Don’t be surprised if one or two of them make it into Mila’s permanent collection since something usually catches Steve’s eye.
The coffee, from mainstream supplier, Bristot, sits somewhere between the chains and third-wave specialists. Chatting with Steve, I learnt that there are plans for guest espresso beans from local roasters, although this shouldn’t detract from Café Mila’s current offering, which is very good. Both the flat white (first visit) and piccolo (second) I had were very good, with rich, dense milk which kept its shape to the bottom of the cup. In both, the coffee clearly came through the milk. The single espresso I tried was also very fine: smooth and full-bodied. I was particularly taken with the handleless cups that the espresso and piccolo came in.
If I have one very minor criticism, it’s that I’ve been spoilt over the last year and have come to expect my flat whites in 6oz cups, whereas Café Mila’s came in a 9oz cup. However, Steve suggested that I had a piccolo on my return (it’s not on the menu, so you have to ask) which comes in a 6oz cup, so I was happy. Compared to the vast buckets of milk that pass for coffee in most of the chains, Café Mila’s approach is far more preferable.
On my second visit, I also sampled the cake, gambling on a raspberry and coconut sponge. Although not a combination I would have naturally thought of, it was excellent! I often shy away from sponges since sweetness is far too often substituted for taste and texture, but there were no such worries here. It had a great texture, with neither the coconut (in the buttercream topping and filling) nor the raspberry (in the form whole raspberries in the cake and jam in the filling) dominating.
|1 ANGEL COURT• GODALMING • SURREY • GU7 1DT|
|cafemila.co.uk||+44 (0) 1483 808569|
|Monday||07:30 – 16:00||Seating||Tables, Sofas, Tables outside|
|Tuesday||07:30 – 17:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Cake|
|Wednesday||07:30 – 17:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Thursday||07:30 – 17:00||Cards||Amex, Visa, Mastercard|
|Friday||07:30 – 17:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Saturday||08:30 – 17:00||Power||Limited|
|Sunday||09:00 – 16:00||Mobile||3G, Voice|
|Chain||No||Visits||25th, 30th August 2013|
You can also see what local cafe blogger, Katie, makes of Cafe Mila.
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