Huffkins Cheltenham Offering From Local Chain of Tea Rooms
The Longer Read Huffkins… Huffkins…Huffkins? It sounds like every American’s idea of an English Tea Room, with Miss Marple at the table by the window and crumpets on the way. Actually that might not be a coincidence. This is no one-off quirky English tea room, it’s a marketed brand, with a firm eye on the bottom line. Much is made of the long ‘heritage’ and family ownership of Huffkins – it would be interesting to know if the same family has owned it since the year dot.
First impressions are good: the shop is in position ‘A’, right on Cheltenham’s Prom. There are some seats outside, under a large canopy. Enter the shop itself and you have counters on the left and some Gift Shoppe items on the right (Union Flag tins etc). If it’s busy and you’re looking for somewhere for tea on a busy Saturday, persevere, there’s a half-hidden room through the back, on the right.
Back near the entrance, the cake cabinet on the left displays some chunky cakes – these things are Greggs-huge. And it’s one of those situations where everything is described for you a la Jamie Oliver: There’s a ‘cracking’ coffee eclair, ‘zesty’ (well, one would hope so, eh?) citrus tart, ‘fabulous’ lemon polenta cake etc
Huffkins is waiter/waitress service and they’re a cheerful bunch, very nice people. They might need to be patient types, the menu is a whopper – there are cakes, puddings, ice cream, ‘full’ afternoon teas, lardy cake to share (£9.95 with drinks). Porridge, muesli, all-day breakfasts (£9.95), breakfast baps, scones, salads, quiches, ham egg and chips (£9.75), bangers and mash (£9.95), macaroni cheese, fish and chips (£10.95), club sandwiches. Oh and omelette, burgers, hot sandwiches, ciabatta, toasties, sandwiches , etc etc.
We’d argue that a long menu is very often an indication of a place that is trying to be all things to all people – and we think that the key to a really great food business (at least as far as the customer is concerned) is specialisation. What do you go to a tea room cafe for? Afternoon Tea, scones, maybe a sandwich or some soup, homemade cakes…
On this visit a simple flat white coffee was OK, a ‘luxurious’ peanut butter brownie (£2.95) arrived cut in half, as well it might have been. I took half of it home. It was pleasant enough, but not luxurious and not, by a long stretch, the best in Cheltenham. I wasn’t convinced that my cutlery was sparkling clean.
Hate to be negative so let’s praise the cheerfulness, wit and efficiency of the staff again. And it’s not wildly expensive, in a great, convenient location.
Incidentally, a ‘Huffkin’ is a bread roll from Kent, with a very long history.