Cafe 1885 at Snape Maltings
Review date: February 2014
A Cafe Above...
Situated in the House & Garden building at Snape Maltings Café 1885 has proved a popular meeting place and refreshment destination for visitors to the Maltings. As the Café approaches its third anniversary Adrian Rawlinson visited to sample the latest menu
In preparation for the launch of our new website - EssentialSuffolk.com - I read and uploaded over 30 of our ‘My Suffolk’ interviews where, during the last three years, we have asked leading local Suffolk residents what they love most about our county and what they would recommend to others. A consistent destination, and I believe clear winner for the most mentions, was Snape Maltings. Over the last ten plus years the Maltings owners, Johnny and Alesha Gooderham, have created an attraction that regularly draws both locals and visitors to the county. As home to Aldeburgh Music and the main venue for the Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival Snape Maltings has a nationally significant profile however seven days a week, 52 weeks a year – only shutting for Christmas – it offers an enticing blend of experiences that will satisfy the curiosity of the most diverse party with just some of the options including an art gallery, the afore mentioned House & Garden shop, fashion retailers, food hall and of course the 1885 Café.
So it was with wind and rain battering my car that I headed to Snape to meet up with Mrs R for what is sadly a rare, but much welcome opportunity to meet for lunch. Publishing a magazine with a small team keeps us very busy and quite often in different places. As I pulled in the news on the radio confirmed what I had suspected; it was officially the wettest January on record and with it on that day a chill east wind had appeared for good measure. I needed warming.
Café 1885 sits on a mezzanine floor above the main section of House & Garden. It is light, rustic, airy and welcoming. Tables and chairs for dining are complimented by a couple of comfy sofas for relaxing and catching up with friends so if you’re not up for a full meal there is also a great selection of teas, coffees, cakes, desserts and afternoon teas. Perfect fayre to refuel before you continue your shopping.
The main menu for the café changes once a month on the first Saturday to coincide with the farmers market at the Maltings, and each day there are a number of specials on the blackboard – local chicken breast stuffed with brie and wrapped in pancetta alongside side local slow roast belly of pork – were the two choices on the day of our visit. Local is key to Café 1885 and they were rewarded for their efforts in 2012 by winning the Suffolk Food & Drink Award for best use of local produce.
Head chef Lauren Gregg told us that each month they will change four of the main dishes but certain choices are sacrosanct. There was a ‘near riot’ when the hugely popular Welsh rarebit was once removed so now it remains firmly in place but occasionally receives a slight refresh with the addition of a new ingredient – most recently a red onion chutney.
For our lunch I chose the Blaxhall Wild Meat Company open mixed game puff pastry pie with Adnams gravy served with sprouting broccoli, leeks and creamy mash. My good lady selected the chicken breast stuffed with brie, wrapped in pancetta from the specials board that came with sautéed potatoes and a rich tomato sauce. Both meals were excellent and mine was absolutely the perfect choice to banish the foul winters day.
As it was lunchtime we resisted the hugely tempting cakes and dessert menus. As delicious as choices such as Tarte au Chocolate, Vanilla Madagascar Cheesecake, Creamy Carrot Cake and Lemon Drizzle Cake were I knew I would be asleep in a layby if I partook on this occasion. A future pleasure to be looked forward to though.
Instead we opted to round off our meal with a coffee before once again going our separate ways. I am a little wary to admit to being a bit of a coffee heathen often enjoying a cup of instant over other much lauded ‘real’ coffees. I was however genuinely enthusiastic about the coffee at Café 1885 which was Roasted Bean Coffee made with 100% Arabica beans. Not only was I impressed with the drink but also the service that came with it. My wife – a coffee lover – always drinks hers black so when the two cups arrived, the black one filled to the brim and mine with room for my milk, the attention to detail was appreciated.
The waiting team were friendly, enthusiastic and knowledgeable – tempting us with tantalising previews of the new dishes on the next month’s menu including a Thai fish curry and sticky sesame seed chicken with coriander, cucumber, carrot and red onion salad. If by the time you read this article you have missed those particular dishes I am sure their replacements will be equally as tempting.
With our meal concluded we took the opportunity to wander around for a spot of retail therapy. Having topped up stocks of my favourite paprika from the Food Hall and contemplated the purchase of more kitchen gadgets - for which we seriously have no more room – from House & Garden we went our separate ways. A perfect lunch and one we’d thoroughly recommend.
Café 1885 is open 7 days a week. 10.00am-5.00pm
For full details of menus and more about Snape Maltings visit