North East Wales is an area of fascinating history and beautiful scenery. Its towns, villages and people offer a warm welcome to visitors from around the world. It’s also got some unique tea rooms and quirky cafes. Here are a few that I can recommend, having tried them out during a great weekend earlier this year.
The Sugar Plum Tea Room – Rhewl
To enter The Sugar Plum Tea Room is to enter another world. A world where colour and cakes rule and food is to be enjoyed in off-beat splendour. Situated within the family-run interiors business Homewood Bound Collections it is full of quirky touches and dedication to taste and flavour. Mexican artist Frida Kahlo sets the tone but it is the bakes that grab attention. A glorious Chocolate Chip and Rasberry Cake shouts out to be eaten, plumptious Scones demand cream and jam, Rocky Road tempts and Millionaire’s Shortbread entices. I sat in the garden and watched happy customers scoff lunch, including enormous sandwiches, tasty sharing platters, Welsh Rarebit and crisply fresh salads. I opted for a signature milkshake; I resisted the lure of one of their specials (chocolate, hazelnut and peanut butter or cookies and cream) and chose straightforward strawberry. It came in an old-fashioned glass milk bottle and was fruitily, coolly refreshing.
The Sugar Plum Tea Room serves breakfasts, lunch, Afternoon Tea and a wide range of specials. It’s in the little village of Rhewl, near Ruthin in Denbighshire and only 45 minutes’ drive from the North East Wales coast. If you’re looking for a tea room with quirkilicious quality, this is the one for you.
Lola and Suggs Beach Cafe – Talacre
To escape the holiday crowds, head for Talacre Beach. It’s great for all the family with miles of sandy beaches and historic Point of Ayr Lighthouse which dates back to 1776. The area around the beach and dunes is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) with rare species including a collection of natterjack toads. Painted turquoise, you can’t miss Lola and Suggs Beach Cafe; it has the look of a cool Cornish gaff. The menu has a decent selection of simple food including jacket potatoes, paninis, sandwiches. I didn’t have time to eat a meal but treated myself to a vanilla ice-cream from their Ice Cream Farm.
The Harbour Hub Cafe – Rhyl
The Harbour Hub Cafe is ideally placed to catch passing cyclists on the Sustrans Route 5 (see my article on our Electric Bike Ride on Morecambe Bay for more on this nationwide Cycle Network). It’s also popular with walkers and people visiting the recently renovated Rhyl Harbour. I stopped off for a light lunch; they do a reasonably priced selection of meals drinks including burgers, salads, ‘artisan’ sandwiches, desserts and drinks. I had a cheeseburger and fries and sat outside in the late afternoon sun, enjoying the view and chatting to a couple of visitors. Patrick and Elena have been coming to Rhyl for over 30 years and were very impressed with the work done to improve the area. “We live in Chester and brought our kids here on holiday every summer. Now we come for weekends; it’s a great base for visiting places like Snowdonia, Bodelwyddan Castle and Anglesey.”
The Harbour Hub Cafe is a Social Enterprise and is open until late afternoon most of the year. It’s only a short walk to the beach and Rhyl town centre, with all the attractions of a popular seaside resort.
Cae Dai Museum – Denbigh
Now this may not be quite what you would expect from a cafe, but I can assure you it is worth the drive to find Cae Dai 50s Museum. Set up by a delightfully eccentric singer Sparrow Harrison, it’s an eclectic mix of just about every item you could think of from everyday life in the 50s and 60s from old police cars to Chuck Berry records. Sitting in the cafe, juke box playing, you travel back in time to a simpler world, without smart phones or the internet. If there’s no-one about, you help youself to instant coffee or a tea bag and pay in the honesty box. All very basic and like no-where else in Wales – or possibly the universe.
The Cae Dai 5os Museum is just outside Denbigh, on the B4051. It’s open daily 11:00 am – 4:00 pm and entry is £3 (children under 12 free) and £5 for a guided tour, which I’d highly recommend, especially if Sparrow shows you round!
Edenshine Restaurant – Afonwen Craft & Antique Centre
My final choice is the wonderful Edenshine Restaurant at Afonwen Craft and Antique Centre. Yes, it’s more than a tea room or cafe as it has a full dining menu, but they welcome all for a cuppa or one of their divine cakes. They take great pride in using local produce all served with friendly, welcoming service. Their website says, ‘Fresh good ingredients is the start to any thing we make, from the cakes we bake with the local free range eggs to the meat that comes from Denbigh and a local Butchers in Caerwys. Fresh trout from Bodfari – just a few minutes down the road, our bead is baked locally in Denbigh and the Welsh cream and milk from a Welsh dairy.’ I arrived late on Sunday afternoon on my way back home and was strongly tempted to just indulge in one of their dazzling array of desserts and cakes.
However, I opted for a main course of oven-roasted trout topped with toasted almonds with homemade tartar sauce, lemon, new pototoes and peas with a glass of freshly squeezed berries. Sitting outside beside a little brook, it was the perfect end to my Welsh weekend of exploration and foodie treats.
Edenshine Restaurant is near Mold, Flintshire in the Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty not far from the Clwydian Range. It’s open all year round, Tuesday to Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays between 9.30am and 5.30pm.
I stayed at the splendid Ruthin Castle Hotel which is open to the public for teas, coffees, lunch and dinner. I had a most enjoyable Afternoon Tea here, watching the wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle in appropriately regal surrounding.
Further Info on North East Wales
I visited the area courtesy of North East Wales Tourism. Their website North East Wales Tourism has got plenty of really useful information to help you plan your own trip to see these quirky sights and much more. You can follow them on social media channels on Twitter @NthEastWales, on Instagram and Facebook. Also check out websites Discover Flintshire – Explore Flintshire – Discover Denbighshire – This Wrexham – Visit Wales.
Read more about my stay in North East Wales
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