The weather was so muggy that even the radio presenter commented on it, luckily I was headed to The Bottle Kiln in West Hallam to try out their coffee and their website advertised a Tranquil Garden. There is a good sized car park with an overflow signposted and inside the cafe there are plenty of seats.
The cafe is attached to an open plan shop selling a range of home, gift, craft and jewellery pieces. There was a nice mix of bigger names and smaller British designers. The shop is quite cluttered, not a place to take small kids or to try and get a wheelchair through. There are plenty of ramps instead of steps and it would be easy to get a wheelchair into the Tranquil Garden although the cafe itself is harder to navigate around. The garden is peaceful until someone starts talking and then the noise really carries. It is non smoking outside but this didn’t stop people from lighting up anyway. The tables are beautifully arranged in a circle around a central garden with all of the tables and a lot of the stools built out of stone to match the kiln chimney. The stools were comfortable but because of the solid base of the table it was extremely hard to sit around with no room for even my legs (and I’m only 5’3″). Inside the cafe there are mostly booths which looked good and made it seem cosy.
There was a rather limited selections of cakes when I was there at about 2.30pm, with only a few cakes and tray bakes as well as three types of scone. There were no gluten free cakes or biscuits available which was a shame. Also the cake display case was open at the back and there were flies on the cakes, which is quite off-putting as you stand in front of them to order.
I ordered a skinny latte, which I was hugely looking forward to. The Bottle Kiln and their staff have won awards for their drinks although I’m not really sure why. The coffee I had was weak and not hot enough, the foam on top was distinctly lacklustre and there was very little, certainly not the right ratio to the amount of hot milk I had. It left a rather unpleasant taste in my mouth and tasted a lot like a very average high street coffee rather than an award winning independent retailer. If you do decide to take your food and drinks outside you have to walk through part of the shop which seems a little strange but other people were doing it so I followed suit.
The food menu was limited but appealing and they had an extensive coffee menu as well, welcoming custom drinks with decaf, syrups and hot/cold options available on request. They also have a really good tea selection with good brands and plenty to choose from.
The surroundings were very pretty and relaxing and the craft shops are definitely worth browsing around if you are nearby but I’d avoid the coffee, I’ll definitely have tea if I go again!
This was the coffee shop I had been heading to when I was diverted to Newark because they are closed on a Monday.
The rest of the week they are open between 10.00 and 5.00. Check them out at http://www.bottlekiln.co.uk