|Juliets cafe, Tunbridge Wells|
We're taking a little trip out of London for this week's Cafe of the Week. Don't panic Londoners, we're only heading 45 minutes south of the city* to Tunbridge Wells in Kent which, as well as being a lovely place for a day trip, also happens to be my home town.
Juliets is a new addition to the roster of independent cafes, delis and boutiques that line Tunbridge Wells' high street. And it is insanely popular. Saturday lunchtimes see a queue of people backed up out of the door and snaking down the street. I tried to visit in late December and found a trio of middle-aged ladies in the doorway fluttering with distress - Juliets was closed for the holidays.
Why the fuss? I pin it down to Juliets holy trinity of creative salads, ginormous cakes and vintage trimmings. And the greatest of these three is, of course, cake.
Beautiful, vital salad I glanced at on way to the cake
|Carrot and walnut cake, Juliets Tunbridge Wells|
The counter of Juliets is divided in half - platters of vibrant, vital salads and grainy goodness by the till, monster-sized cakes by the window - all the better for luring in passing shoppers. The counter is protected by clear perspex, which I like to imagine is there to protect patrons from sticking their faces straight in the frosting.
And what frosting! Exhibit A) above, was a moist and fragrant carrot and walnut cake with a wall of whipped mascarpone and walnut shards on top. The frosting was barely-sweetened which was great news - sickly, too-sugary cream cheese frosting is the downfall of many a good carrot cake.
|Massive Victoria sandwich, Juliet's Tunbridge Wells|
Exhibit B), the Victoria sandwich is already something of a local legend. This Victoria sponge, filled with fresh cream and tart blackcurrants, basks in the window of the cafe on a tall cake stand on a Roman column. It is huge, this Victoria sponge, the width and depth of a car tyre but thankfully not the texture. The picture doesn't even do its size justice - that's a dinner plate, not a saucer.
Exhibit C) the orange blossom and almond cake, is one for serious sweettooths only, with royal icing spooling over the sides and crystalised orange segments on top. It was delicious with a dainty cup of Jasmine pearl tea.
I may have got sidetracked by cake (what's new?), but there is much else that impresses me about Juliets...
- All the soups and stews are gluten-free
- There is an extensive and imaginative tea menu which even includes mate from Argentina
- The exposed brick walls feature interesting and actually good local art (i.e no kittens, no windmills)
- The breakfast menu includes original menu items like pan-fried beef and tomatoes on brown toast and a toasted croissant with speck and Fontina.
- Owners Juliet and Simon use local produce wherever possible
Now if they would only start using an apostrophe, Juliets would be nigh on perfect.
Juliets, 54 High Street, Tunbridge Wells Kent TN1 1XF
*Trains from Charing Cross, Waterloo East or London Bridge at least twice hourly- honestly, the TW tourist board should pay me for this stuff.