By the time the second week of the Easter holidays comes around, parents are often wondering what else they can do to keep children occupied.
While my children are still too young (just) for school, none of the usual groups and events that we go to during term-time are on so trying out somewhere new is always on the agenda.
And Nelson’s at Swarland was just the ticket.
Set in the Pavilion in the village’s Vyner Park, next to the fantastic children’s play area, it is in a perfect location for families.
And the food was just fantastic.
The venue only opened last July and I have heard many people rave about how nice it was, so was delighted when we decided to go with two other friends and their children.
The spacious, light and airy room is set with big wooden tables, chunky chairs and even a sofa or too for visitors to relax.
On the right as you go in there is a selection of gifts and toys for sale and at the back of the room there is even a children’s play area with puzzles and toys – they really have thought of everything.
But when it comes to the food, that’s where Nelson’s excels. You can tell that everything is handmade.
The menu is quite extensive, despite it being fairly new on the scene.
Breakfast items are served all day, alongside sandwiches, paninis, soup, quiche and the Admiral beef burger.
Then there are numerous sweet treats to add to the mix.
And for kids it is perfect. For £4, they can build their own picnic with a choice of sandwich, fruit or vegetable sticks, traybake/cupcake or crisps and a drink.
With three three-year-olds and two one-year-olds in tow, we ordered three of them.
I opted for the homemade sweet potato, red pepper and red onion soup and a ham salad sandwich on wholemeal bread.
The others in my party went for the soup and a coronation chicken sandwich and a jacket potato with beans.
Despite the venue being busy, the kids’ meals were served super quick.
They arrived on lovely little trays, with mini metal fire buckets filled with their fruit or vegetables, a perfectly sized sandwich and a hefty piece of cake.
And their drinks were served in mini glass milk bottles while mine came in a nice recycled glass , which added an extra touch.
It wasn’t long after their food arrived that the adults were served and we were not disappointed.
The soup was so fresh and well seasoned. It was very tasty and warmed us up on the cold, yet sunny, afternoon.
And the sandwich was massive. Served in two doorstep-sized pieces of bread, it was filled with lovely proper ham and an ample amount of salad.
The jacket potato came with a pot of beans on the side, which meant they didn’t spill everywhere and a lovely salad and homemade coleslaw, which was apparently one of the highlights.
And the coronation chicken sandwich also went down well. It had just the right amount of spice, was full of lovely chicken and wasn’t made with too much mayonnaise.
The array of cakes and bakes was incredibly tempting, but the mains were so filling that none of us had room for any!
Although one of the party, who is also gluten-free, did take a gluten-free brownie home with her and we were informed that it was ‘heavenly’, ‘gooey and stodgy and just delicious’.
Alongside the cakes and bakes there is also afternoon tea and what look like the most amazing milkshakes, made with Oreo cookies, among others – although I’m sure they will be calorific.
What impressed us most of all was the customer service.
There weren’t many staff but they were fantastic and nothing was too much trouble.
I asked for a separate bowl for some soup for my little boy and was given a fab plastic bowl and spoon which they had especially for kids.
But it wasn’t just us they helped. We saw them help an elderly lady who was unsteady on her feet across to a table and they seemed genuinely interested in speaking to people – which is sadly quite rare these days.
Nelson’s is a brilliant facility and, next to the park, it is in the perfect location.
I know we will be back time and again. I might even try a cake at some point!
A DREAM BECAME A CAFÉ REALITY
Nelson’s opened last summer and is the brainchild of three friends from the village.
They all worked long-term in the village pre-school and were involved in the fund-raising and installation of the children’s play park which sits within Vyner Park.
They often discussed how great it would be to sit and have coffee or lunch in such a beautiful setting with the lovely playing fields and children’s play area. And now their dream has become a reality.
SELECTION FROM THE MENU
The full Nelson......£7.00
Eggy bread and fruit......£4.00
Muesli with milk and fruit......£3.50
Sandwiches......all at £5.50
Prawn/ham/Cheddar and chutney/ roast beef and mustard/ tuna mayo/ BLT/coronation chicken
Triple decker chicken club......£6.50
Soup with bloomer......£4.50
Soup and cheese scone......£5.50
Soup and sandwich......£8.00
Pies/pastries and quiches......£7.50
Admiral beef burger......£9.00
Cream scone with jam......£2.50
STAR RATINGS (out of 10)
Quality of food......8
Use of local food......9
Toilet for disabled......yes
Cater for kids......yes
Verdict: A great use of a community facility which is in a perfect location and perfect for families.
Contact: 01670 787600 or nelsonsswarland.co.uk
The previous Northumberland Gazette Eating Out column reviewed Bertram’s at Warkworth. And if you missed it, here is a link to the Gazette’s top tips of 2014.