A quiet Sunday drive led us to Northumberland Cheese Company’s Cheese Loft Cafe, somewhere I have wanted to go for a while.
And I will definitely be back again and again.
Hidden away in the Northumberland countryside, the Cheese Loft Cafe is part of the farm at Northumberland Cheese Company.
Visitors can book, in advance, to take a tour around the cheese farm to see how the company makes the different varieties, but we opted to go straight for the tasting.
The cafe is above the farm and the room is very inviting. Timber beams criss-cross the ceiling with farmhouse-style tables and mismatched chairs giving the whole room an open and airy feel.
At one end there is a cheese counter, where you can buy your own, as well as gift displays. At the other is the kitchen and the counter where orders are placed.
When we arrived, despite it being the middle of the lunchtime period, the cafe was quite quiet with just two other tables taken up.
But that was no reflection on the quality of what was on offer.
For a cafe, I thought the menu, which boasts that all ingredients are sourced as locally as possible, was quite good.
A selection of breakfast items are on offer until 11.15am which include cheese on toast (£4.50) and a bacon sandwich (£3.25).
From 11.30am onwards lunch is served and there is a good selection.
I opted for a toasted sandwich (£5.50). There were a number of fillings on offer which can also go with jacket potatoes (£5.50) and sandwiches (£4.55). The toasted sandwich and jacket potatoes come with two fillings while sandwiches have one, however, more can be added for 75p.
You can choose from ham, cheese, chutney, tomato, onion, cheese savoury, egg mayo, tuna mayo and beans.
Seeing as it was a ‘cheese’ cafe, I chose to have the classic ham and cheese.
My husband decided on a ploughman’s lunch, (£7.25) for which he could choose two cheeses or ham. He again chose the cheese and had the Chevington and Coquetdale varieties.
And our littlest diner, who also has a penchant for cheese, had a children’s half-a-sandwich (£2.50).
My toasted sandwich was beautiful and just what I needed after a busy wedding reception the night before.
It had been made with the company’s Northumberland Original cheese, in big chunks, and proper home cooked ham. It was served with a salad of lettuce, tomato, cucumber and onion and a chunk of orange.
The ploughman’s looked even better.
It came with two great hunks of cheese, some baguette, chutney, coleslaw and a similar salad along with grapes and slices of pear.
I am told it was delicious, however, it could have done with a bit more bread to match the amount of cheese.
There were certainly no complaints from the little one either. Her sandwich had very thick slices of cheese inside, and it came with tortilla chips, grapes and pear.
Other options included afternoon tea for one or two which came with sandwiches, scones and tea or coffee. (£8 for one and £13 for two).
While the lunch was fulfilling, we couldn’t leave without trying out the cakes and treats on offer.
The menu details a list of what is on offer including Durham fruit cake (£2.05), millionaire’s shortbread (£1.65) and carrot cake (£1.80) to name just a few.
We decided to go for the scones, which looked delicious.
Opting for a cream tea for two (£6.75) we were served very quickly with two nice big pots of Rington’s tea and delicious scones, which were definitely freshly baked as they still had flour on the bottom.
They came with a little pot of jam and fresh cream.
Not wanting to leave the youngster out, we ordered a chocolate crispie cake (£1.65).
The scones were delicious, lovely and soft on the inside, but could have done with a little more fruit for my liking.
Little hands devoured the crispie cake, with a bit of help. It was gooey on the bottom with a thick layer of chocolate on top.
All in all, a great little cafe in the middle of the countryside. It was simple but effective and nice that you know where the food is coming from – the cheese couldn’t get any more local.
A COUNTRYSIDE RETREAT THAT IS WORTH A VISIT
If you are a cheese fan then the Cheese Loft Cafe is a good place to visit – but non-cheese lovers are catered for as well.
The menus are good, there could be more options, but for the size of the cafe, they don’t need them.
Also on the menu is how they make their cheese, in a step-by-step guide.
It was interesting to read the processes it goes through before it makes it on to our plates.
It is also nice that you can buy the cheese from the cafe to take home, which is a major plus point for tourists.
SELECTION FROM THE MENU
Toasted teacake with butter £2.30
Scrambled egg on taost.............£3.25
Toast with butter and jam...........£1.50
Cheese and biscuits....................£6.75
Cheese or tomato soup..............£4.00
Roasted vegetable quiche..........£7.25
Blagdon Blue and brocolli soup £4.00
Afternoon tea for one................£8.00
Cakes and treats
Durham rich fruit cake...............£2.05
Cheese scone with chutney
Fruit scone with jam and cream..... £2
Cheese on toast..........................£2.65
Jacket potato with one filling.... £3.50
Half a sandwich...........................£2.50
Star ratings (out of ten)
Quality of food 7
Vegetarian choice 7
Value for money 8
Children catered for 7
Toilet for disabled Yes
Access for disabled 2
Overall rating 7.5
Verdict: Decent cafe food.
Contact: 01670 789798 or www.northumberlandcheese.co.uk