After hearing about the new vintage, antiques and café, Circa, at the former car dealership at Amble, I was intrigued to find out how it would work.
So when a sunny Sunday afternoon drive led us there, I couldn’t help but take a peak.
From the outside it is quite unassuming.
But once you go through the doors it’s a wonderland of antiques, pre-loved items and more.
Circa is split into three main sections. As you go through the front door, there’s the main ‘shopping’ area, jam-packed with all different kinds of items from big pieces of furniture to dainty jewellery.
This leads to the back of the shop and a lovely outdoor section which houses two vintage caravans as well as a small seating area.
Back indoors and at the far side of the shop there is the café.
Modern tables and chairs are given a vintage twist with lovely white tablecloths and china cups and saucers.
There’s also a nice comfy sofa to sit on and tables for two, with huge wicker chairs that looked far too comfy.
Off the café area, there is another little shopping section packed with clothes and handmade crafts, as well as other vintage memorabilia.
Taking a seat by the table, we were quickly greeted by friendly staff who even brought along a vintage highchair for the youngster to sit in.
Circa prides itself on homemade specials, soups, cakes and scones and serve a wide selection of sandwiches, paninis, salads, cakes, bakes and more.
And there is also a tempting Doddington Dairy Ice-cream cabinet.
Youngsters are also catered for and as ours was getting increasingly ravenous, she had the tiny tots treat (£3.50), which included sandwiches, fruit and a cupcake with a glass of milk or Fruit Shoot.
I opted for the goat’s cheese, grape and walnut salad with beetroot chutney (£5.50) and Mr M went for the brie and grape panini (£4.50).
We also ordered a pot of tea (£2.20) – which arrived with a funky floral tea cosy – so that we could take full advantage of the china teacups.
Food arrived quickly and, keeping up the theme, the panini and salad were served on vintage-esque plates.
My salad came with three thick rounds of cheese on top of a bed of iceberg lettuce, peppers and tomato.
There was a nice big dollop of chutney, which was lovely and sweet, but also a little tangy, and a decent amount of grapes and walnuts on top.
The flavours combined well and it was very filling.
The quietness opposite meant the panini was going down well.
I am told it was full to bursting with oozing brie and lots of grapes.
It was served with a small side salad of lettuce tomato and pepper as well as homemade coleslaw.
And the tiny tots treat was another hit.
We chose jam sandwiches – other options were ham or cheese – which were cut into the shape of gingerbread men.
Served on a plastic plate – which is always a good idea where our child is concerned – they were accompanied by a handful of grapes (her favourite) and two mini chocolate muffins with a gooey topping.
Having spied the cakes and bakes it would have been rude not to try them so after much deliberation Mr M chose a slice of Victoria sponge cake.
I am trying a wheat-free diet for a while and was impressed that there were gluten-free cakes on offer.
I was told that they normally have a lemon drizzle cake as well as chocolate brownies but the former had sold out.
However, the brownies were still a good choice.
Sometimes gluten-free cakes can be very dry but this was moist and chocolatey but not too sweet.
The Victoria sponge cake went down well and again was nice and moist and had a decent layer of jam and buttercream in the middle.
Having already had cake we gave the little one a scoop of Doddington vanilla ice-cream, which was polished off rather quickly.
And all of that was for just £23.40, which I thought was rather decent, considering the amount of food we ate.
Circa is a great little stop-off and while it’s not in the shopping centre of Amble, it was busy enough while we were there, with people coming and going all the time.
Another place that I’ll add to the list to visit again, and take friends to.
UNUSUAL VENUE WITH MORE THAN JUST FOOD
Circa adds something a bit different to the café culture in north Northumberland.
While it does offer the usual types of meals, it does it with a difference.
For instance, afternoon tea can be taken in a vintage caravan outside – perfect for a special celebration or party.
The added touches of china tea cups and saucers and tea cosies just make it that bit more special.
And while you’re there you also get the chance to shop – for something that you probably won’t find anywhere else.
SELECTION FROM THE MENU
Soup of the day......£3.50
Baked potato w/fillings......£4.50
PANINIS (All £4.50)
Cheese and tomato; tuna mayo and spring onion; ham and mature cheddar.
SANDWICHES (All £4.20)
Egg mayonnaise; Cheddar and pickle; coronation chicken.
SALADS (All £5.50)
Mozzerella and tomato; ham and onion chutney; prawns and Marie Rose sauce.
CREAM TEAS AND CAKES
Afternoon tea......for one £9, for two £17
Vintage caravan supplement......£3pp
STAR RATINGS (out of 10)
Quality of food......8.5
Value for money......8.5
Use of local food......7
Access for disabled......s
Toilet for disabled......Yes
Verdict: A quirky café which provides great service and good food in vintage surroundings.
Contact: 01665 711735 or visit www.circa-amble.co.uk.