Review: The Post Box, Ponteland

‘I’m happy to just sit in a cafe and watch people. It’s my favorite thing to do, for sure’ – Zoe Kravitz

Because I spent the best part of my childhood growing up in Holland and Belgium I like to obnoxiously consider myself as ‘European’ rather than ‘British’ despite the fact that most of most personality traits actually sway more towards the american super friendly, super positive vibe. You know, the kind of person who uses super as an adverb. In fact there’s a running joke in our family that when we were little, while I could be appeased with some blue ice cream, my brother would ask for a cappuccino.

Anyway, point being, I love a cafe and one of my biggest dreams in life is to live somewhere that has a small, quaint, quirky cafe in walking distance that I can go and blog from every Sunday. When I dream, I dream big. Sadly there’s isn’t one quite on my door step however a short drive away from us in Ponteland is the gorgeous small, quaint, quirky Post Box.

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We visited at around 2pm on a Sunday afternoon and it was the perfect amount of busy, enough people to give it enough atmosphere but still plenty of seats left. There was a great mixture of clientele too, some cyclists in need of nourishment, families with children and couples ignoring each other reading the paper.

The menu is extensive with sandwiches, fresh soup, jacket potatoes and a favourite of mine; the all day breakfast. At the front counter there’s also a wide range of freshly made cakes, scones and tray bakes including gluten free options.

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We were only in the mood for some coffee so had a cappuccino and a gingerbread latte respectively and in the name of science and research I sampled the coffee and walnut cake – which was delicious. The perfect mixture of soft moist sponge and buttery icing without the coffee taste being too over powering.

 

They’ve got the shabby chic decor down to a tee and I love a lot of the local art that adorns the walls. It’s interesting to know that they open on a Friday and Saturday evening as a night cafe where they serve nachos, cheeseboards and a small but perfectly formed dinner menu all based around having a glass of wine and sharing food with your mates.

 

The one sting in the tail? It was almost £9 for two coffees and a slice of cake, which means my meagre bank balance couldn’t afford a trip every week, however this Ponteland; the home of the gillet and ‘ladies who lunch’ so i’m guessing their overheads go someway to explaining the pricing structure.

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The Post Box definitely earns a spot as one of my favourite cafes in the area and i’m excited to go back and see what their evening menu is like. If only they could consider relocating to the end of my street that would be ideal…

 

Elliott’s Kitchen, Wylam

‘I like to be able to sit in a cafe and watch the world go by and observe people’ – Sophia Myles

There’s a lot of negativity on the world at the moment. Even on Facebook and instagram there’s people eye rolling at their so called friends who are at the gym or posting their slimming world meals. There doesn’t seem to be much bigging each other up anymore.

So let me buck the trend and take a moment to gush about our amazing friends Jill and Phil Elliott who after what feels like years of near misses have finally fulfilled their dream of owning their own cafe. And what a cafe it is.

Jill and I have been close friends for over 15 years when we worked as barmaids together at our local pub in Cramlington (she taught me everything I know about alcohol). She married professional chef (and all round lovely bloke) Phil is 2009 and they’ve been great friends to us ever since.

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Elliotts Kitchen on Main Street in Wylam is everything you’d want in a cafe and more. In fact to just call it a cafe is doing the a disservice. Phil has honed all his years in the professional catering industry to create a fantastic gastro cafe serving not only your regular coffees and traybakes but ever changing lunchtime specials like quiches and runny scotch eggs. All freshly made on the premises with local produce.

We visited at about 2.15pm on a Saturday and it was just nicely busy after the lunchtime rush, enough people in to create an atmosphere but even free tables to get a good seat. The decor inside is minimalist but classy, big windows letting the sun stream in and light wooden furniture and fittings.

We only went for coffee and cake; a latte (made with Italian coffee) and slice of rocky road for me and a pot of Earl Grey and a date scone for Dave. Both treats were a decent size (there’s nowt more frustrating that a small scone) the rocky road was stuffed with fluffy marshmallows and not to over powering with sickly chocolate, so you don’t have to worry about your kids bouncing off the walls after a slice. Two drinks and two sweets came to around £8, which isn’t unreasonable, particularly for Wylam.

We didn’t stay for lunch, although judging by the smells from the kitchen perhaps we should have! Their manu changes regularly if not daily and an example of some things they’ve had on recently are spiced parsnip soup, aberdeen angus shepherds pie topped with swede & potato mash, beef onepot served with onion bread & parsley dumpling and stilton and mushroom tarlets. Not to mention sandwiches and a different cake of the day.

Of course it’s easy for me to be bias, they’re my mates after all, however to be honest I think that just means I’d be more brutally honest if i didn’t think they were quite up to scratch (or at the very least just not say anything at all!) but I honestly honestly am super impressed and proud, not only in the hard work and sacrifice Jill and Phil have made but in the genuine quality of the food and the menu.

If you want a boring croque monsieur then go to Cafe Rouge. If you want quality, locally produced homemade food with a quirky twist. Go to Eilliott’s Kitchen!

Address: Main Road, Wylam, Northumberland NE41 8AQ
Phone: 01661 852422
Facebook: Elliott’s Kitchen
Twitter: @foodmatters07

 

The Perfect February Weekend

‘Weekends are special even if your schedule is all over the place. Something tells you the weekend has arrived and you can indulge yourself a bit’ – Helen Mirren

I feel like life’s on a bit of a conveyor belt at the moment, just a constant loop of work, weekend, work, weekend etc. It’s still a good month before we go on our first holiday of the year and whilst the weeks are going quickly, the weekends are flying past at supersonic speed. As far as my weekends have gone recently, I’d say this one we’ve just had has been pretty damn near perfect. It’s made me stop for a second and be thankful for the small things in life that we sometimes take for granted when we’re on that work/weekend treadmill.

It kicked off on Friday night with babysitting our niece and nephew with wine, pizza and reality TV

Friday Night

Saturday morning started off right with a cheeky 12km run knocked out the park by 11am followed by a slap up breakfast at my parents house (scrambled eggs on a marmite bagel with a side poached eggs and some well done toast – which, weirdly is exactly how I like it! – YUM!)

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Saturday night was definitely cause for celebration as we toasted my dad’s retirement from the British Army. Champagne flowed in copious amounts all night!

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L-R: Sister-in-law, brother, dad, mum, hubby, me

All that champagne didn’t make for the most energetic start to Sunday morning I must admit but I did manage to pull myself round, slap on a bit of make up, pull some snuggly boots on and hop on the metro to meet Katie (www.beautyandthebaker.co.uk) for coffee & cake on the Quayside (try saying that 3 times fast!) Funnily enough she was also feeling rather fragile from her drunken antics on Friday night as well so we consoled each other with some chocolately sugary goodness at the wonderful Great British Cupcakery.

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So other than feeling slightly ‘tired and emotional’ this morning, and the prospect that my run outside yesterday morning may have brought on a slight head cold, I would say all in all it’s been a pretty successful weekend all round! Let’s hope the forthcoming week goes over just as quickly as the weekend has as I look forward to a loved up Valentines weekend with the hubby!