The upside: Creative cooking using some lovely local produce too!
The downside: The café is shut on Mondays and just from 10.00am-2.30pm on Sundays.
The flipside: One of the most delicious and unusual menus for a small café in the county!
If you want a gorgeous spin on home baking, feisty salads and something that your great aunt will recognize on the menu; this café is for you. Opening its doors in January 2015 this unassuming business already has a big fan base. Dedicated to fresh homemade food with an innovative twist creative chef/owner Sarah has a winning formula and a Time Out Award under her belt from a previous business she ran in London. Starting in Surrey with a pop up café which soon outgrew its temporary venue, they found a new home in Elstead. With her husband Mark they have transformed this barn into a thriving eaterie after giving the room some much needed TLC. With a growing family they entrust some of the cake creation to their fabulous baker Vicky and meals to chef Caroline who along with the waitresses complete the team. Shutting on Sunday and Monday means they get the family and business balance right too.
This small café has a brilliant menu and also boasts local suppliers for much of the menu! Eggs and dairy products come from Great Hookley Farm, produce from Teasels and meat from Prides farm shop all in and around Elstead. Emphasis here too is also on great baking, quiches, pies and cakes but also unusual salads and veg packed soups. Specials include Moroccan lamb tagine with roasted aubergine and minted yogurt (£8), tomato and basil soup with bread (£4) and grilled goats cheese on puy lentils with red onion and mint (£6.50). Their freshly baked quiches are supersized and served with salad too.
On my last visit my daughter chose a cooked breakfast (which is served all day) I was a bit miffed as there were so many delicious options on the specials board to try. My daughter gave it full marks and was delighted with her choice a snip at £6.50. I chose from the specials menu and also enjoyed a board of vegetarian kofta’s, tomato salsa and hummus with salad leaves. A tasty combination which worked especially well with the creamy hummus and piquant salsa.
Cake is important here so we also shared two slices (£2.30 each) These were; “calling Ibiza” a coconut and lime combo which had a deliciously zingy lime curd filling and “Dear Prudence” a prune, chocolate and blueberry cake with cream cheese frosting, rich, fruity and moist. I keep looking at the picture I took of the other cakes and wondering what if? It will have to be for another visit! Having watched Sarah and her team posting their wonderful cakes on social media the display on offer did not disappoint. The cakes form a focal point in the café laid out on the sideboard and its makes such a refreshing change from typical offerings of brownies, carrot cake and chocolate fudge. For the more traditional eaters there are options for a cream tea (using locally produced preserves) and other less quirky menu items too.
One of my mantras has always been ‘strive to be different’ and the Little Barn Café has achieved just that. In a competitive market it’s a great attitude to have and one that sets this super café way up the list of my current recommendations.