CSONS has been a fixture of Shrewsbury’s coffee scene since 2015, when it opened as a coffee shop, serving primarily coffee and cakes. Since then, it’s evolved into a full-service restaurant and has opened a second location down the A49 in Ludlow. CSONS came to my attention through Hundred House Coffee, which provides CSONS’ bespoke house blend, available through a standard, espresso-based menu along with Hundred House’s regular decaf. There’s also tea from Hereford’s Trumpers Tea and a fully-stocked bar with local beers, cider and cocktails.
When it comes to food, CSONS has separate menus for breakfast (to 11:30), lunch (12:00 – 15:00) and dinner (15:00 onwards on Friday/Saturday only). The food is innovative, ranging from breakfast standards through to small plates for lunch/dinner so that you can mix-and-match your way through the menu (large plates are also available if you just want a regular meal!). You’re also welcome to pop in for coffee and cake (available all day).
All of this is served in a lovely space which occupies the ground floor of an old building on Milk Street. The seating is spread across multiple rooms, including a large, sheltered courtyard at the back if you want to sit outside.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
CSONS is on the western side of Milk Street, in a two-storey building which, if looks are anything to go by, is several hundred years old. The front has various contrasting windows, starting with a 30-pane bay window on the left. This is followed by the door, which is deeply recessed between two windows, which funnel you in. To the right of this are three tall windows before you come to a separate shop front, consisting of two shorter windows with another door. Clearly, the ground floor was once two separate shops at some point, but this is no longer the case, CSONS spanning the full width of the building, the right-hand door no longer required.
CSONS offers full table service, so as you step inside, there’s a sign asking you to wait to be seated. This gives you a chance to survey your options, which are legion. To the right is the main space, with an eight-person communal table at the back and three smaller tables in the windows at the front, a pair of square, two-person tables and a round, four-person one. A large opening in the party wall leads into what was once the second shop, which has more tables at the front. This cosy room, about half the size of the main one, has a padded bench running around all three walls at the back.
If that doesn’t take your fancy, you can try to the left of the door, where there are a pair of two-person tables and a round, three-person table in a neat space behind the bay window. The counter is beyond this, tucked in at back on the left and although you don’t need to go up there, it’s worth wandering by since a corridor leads past the counter and into CSONS fabulous back room.
This is long and thin, maybe half the width of the main room at the front. There’s a padded bench running down the left-hand side with three two-person tables, while another two line the right-hand wall. Light is provided by an old, diamond-paned window at the back, while at the front, the old fireplace (which is worth a look in itself) has one more table, which stands in the actual fireplace.
As if that wasn’t enough, the corridor keeps going, running along the back of the padded bench to a door at the far end, which opens into a wonderful, sheltered courtyard, surrounded on all four sides by CSONS neighbours. There are another six tables out here (four two-person, one four-person and one five-person) with shade provided by a bright yellow awning which spreads right across the middle of the courtyard.
As much as I’d come for coffee, having always enjoyed anything and everything by Hundred House, I was actually there for lunch, keen to try out CSONS small plates menu. All the dishes (except the burgers) come as either a large plate (as a main course) or a small plate, which can be had as a starter, or you can have several instead of a main (a bit like tapas).
CSONS sources its food locally, with the location worked into the name of the dish. So, for example, I had the Chirk Trout and the West Midlands Organic Mushrooms (both as small plates). Each dish also comes with suggestions for an additional side and a wine/beer/cider pairing, although I went against the menu’s recommendation and ordered the flatbread to round out my lunch.
I thoroughly enjoyed my food, the two dishes providing a wonderful combination of flavours and textures, although the highlight was undoubtably the rich, spicy gravy covering the mushrooms. I paired all this with a decaf flat white, conscious that I had just come from The Colonel’s Son Coffee Roasters and still had Nomad Coffee Co. to go that day. This was also wonderful, smooth and rich, milk and coffee in perfect harmony.
|8 MILK STREET • SHREWSBURY • SY1 1SZ|
|www.csons-shrewsbury.co.uk||+44 (0) 1743 272709|
|Monday||09:00 – 16:00||Roaster||Hundred House (espresso only)|
|Tuesday||09:00 – 16:00||Seating||Tables; Tables (outside)|
|Wednesday||09:00 – 16:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Cake|
|Thursday||09:00 – 16:00||Service||Table|
|Friday||09:00 – 21:00||Payment||Cards + Cash|
|Saturday||09:00 – 21:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||09:00 – 16:00||Power||Limited|
|Chain||Regional||Visits||16th September 2022|
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