Lemana Café (Original)

The counter at Lemana Cafe, groaning under the weight of the home-made cakes.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.

  • Cafe Lemana in Lymington, Hampshire (not, as I mistakenly thought, Dorset!).
  • There's a lot of outdoor seating, although November wasn't the best time to try it!
  • Sitting under this canopy on a sunny day would have been nice though.
  • Another of the outdoor tables.
  • Stepping inside, the counter is to the right.
  • A more detailed view of the counter...
  • ... which looked like this on my return two years later in 2015!
  • To the left, the seating, where my friend Lise stole her husband's hot chocolate in 2013!
  • More of the seating at Lemana Cafe: the layout was basically the same on my return...
  • Eclectic might be a good way of describing the seating, some of which has changed.
  • For example, I quite liked these chairs, which weren't there on my return.
  • Nor were these armchairs, which I remember coveting on my original visit!
  • This table, with the drinks menu above it, is still there though.
  • Although the drinks menu doesn't look like that any more...
  • The main coffee menu is above the counter and used to offer various sizes.
  • With the change of roaster to Has Bean, this has been considerably simpliified.
  • The espresso machine, from 2013...
  • ... and looking remarkably similar in 2015!
  • There's also been a change in tea supplier, with loose-leaf tea from the Gilded Teapot.
  • There's even a whole set of shelves dedicated to the stuff that wasn't there in 2013!
  • However, we mustn't overlook the important matter of cake. Cake to the right of us...
  • ... cake to the left of us. We're surrounded! I think we might have to eat our way out!
  • The array of cake in 2015 was equally impressive.
  • Back in 2013, the scones were so fierce that they had to be kept in a cage...
  • ... but now they've mellowed and can be allowed out in polite company.
  • More of the 2015 selection of cake: Victoria sponge...
  • ... and coffee & walnut.
  • On my first visit in 2013, I had a veggie breakfast (for lunch)...
  • ... while my friend Lise had the cheeseboard.
  • Back then, we tried the lemon cake...
  • ... and the coffee & walnut.
  • I also had a ristretto to round things off.
  • On my return in 2015, I had to try the coffee, so went with a flat white (in a tulip cup!)...
  • ... and an espresso.
  • I had a rather out-of-focus sea salt and rosemary flat bread for lunch...
  • ... and followed that up with a slice of lemon cake. Not much changes, does it?
  • I was so impressed, I returned for lunch with friends the following Monday.
  • I, of course, had Eggs Florentine, seen here from above (& taken from the breakfast menu).
  • My friend Steve had American blueberry pancakes (also from the breakfast menu)...
  • ... which also looked good from above.
  • Finally, my friend Jeff (who is American) had the full English. As you do.
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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.

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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