Sunday, 18 November 2012

Roscoff Deli and Café, Bath

Picture taken from Roscoff website:

Hidden away down a little side street in Bath, just up from the Guildhall market, Roscoff Café is a gem worth seeking out. Don’t be swayed by the familiarity of Café Nero or the tempting displays of Patisserie Valerie close by – Roscoff’s food, service and atmosphere beats these places, and pretty much every other café (of which there are many!) in Bath, hands down.

As a tea and cake lover who has lived in Bath for over 8 years, I’ve tried many of the cafes around the town centre, but Roscoff is one of the few I come back to time and again. It is an owner-run establishment and Rosario, the Sicilian owner, is a host in the true sense of the word. From the moment you enter, you are welcomed like an old friend and Rosario is very happy to chat and make recommendations, without ever imposing.

The building is fairly small – there are a few tables outside (lovely in the summer), the counter and a few tables downstairs and more tables upstairs (up a winding, narrow set of wooden steps).  This isn’t a posh Bath tearoom – the décor and crockery is a little rustic, and the tables fairly cramped – but this just fits with the atmosphere and adds to the charm.

This time, we visited on a busy Saturday afternoon in Bath. We were lucky to find a table as it was incredibly busy. We were a little squashed in on a downstairs table, but it was fun to sit and watch people wandering by, the staff bustling about and Rosario greeting and chatting away to customers.  We were only popping in for a drink and bit of cake, but deciding on what to have still took a while as the menu has lots of choice.  There are a wide variety of black and green teas and carefully selected coffees and a good selection of cakes, including 5 different baked cheesecakes (which look fantastic – except I don’t like cheesecake!), gluten-free chocolate brownies and gluten-free Sicilian lemon cake, coffee and walnut cake, carrot cake, traditional Sicilian cannolo (pastry shells filled with a ricotta cream) and many more.  The café also does breakfasts (which, according to TA reviews) are fantastic) and a good variety of lunch options.

In the end, I opted for the House Blend tea and a slice of the GF Sicilian Lemon cake. When ordering the cake, Rosario was quite surprised that I guessed his “secret ingredient” immediately! He says that I’m the only one to have ever guessed – but I’ve made a similar cake myself before! I won’t give away the secret though – you’ll have to go and see if you can work it out yourself. My tea was delicious: fragrant and flavoursome. It came in a small tea pot, with a tea strainer, and gave me two and a half cups of tea.  My lemon cake was moist and zingy with a lovely lemon buttercream-type topping.

EHH chose a latte and the Sicilian Afternoon Tea – a choice of 3 Sicilian mini pastries: he chose a lemon cannolo, a vanilla cannolo and a pistachio aragostina.  His latte was lovely – the coffee is really good here – my only negative is that it came in a large mug rather than a glass (I have a thing that lattes should always come in a glass!). He really enjoyed his pastries, in particular the pistachio aragostina. The flavours were great, although if being ultra picky, the pastry was a little thick – however, this could just be how these are meant to be!

Overall, if you couldn’t tell already, we love this place. It’s the antithesis to the bland, faceless corporate chains that are taking over towns and cities across the country and the food is great. We’ll be back. 

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