Mon, 08 Apr 2019
When you’re greeted with a basket of hot water bottles on the counter with a sign saying ‘if you’re feeling chilly please help yourself and we will fill it up with hot water for you’, you know you are in a cosy environment.
A flurry of people come through the door, many of them greeted by their first names and given ‘their usual’. The colourful and mouth-watering display of freshly-made cakes along the counter are crying out to accompany your choice of tea, coffee or healthy smoothie.
Lara took over the café in July 2018 and her motto is to provide variety offering a balanced range of food, so people can try a bit of everything.
“I am lactose and gluten intolerant, so I understand about special dietary needs,” explains Lara. “My aim is to provide delicious, healthy options, but of course not forgetting the naughty treats we all like to indulge in.”
Lara spent three years in London working as a food stylist for national magazines – a talent which is evident as you look at the way the cakes and pastries are arranged on the counter.
She trained at the Prue Leith cookery school – “that was a great experience and taught me a lot of professional techniques, but I learnt an awful lot of my skills from my mother and grandmother.
“Colour is really important. I’m very conscious that a lot of cakes and savoury foods can look ‘beige’, so I make sure there is a bit of colour to break it up – either through colours on the cakes or with the freshly-made fruit drinks”.
We visited the café at 10.30am, just after the breakfast rush. “We are always busy first thing in the morning – I promote healthy breakfasts with scrambled eggs with prosciutto or smoked salmon. A particularly popular option is Parma ham with an egg in the middle and I also make homemade granola and yogurt. On Saturdays all-day brunch is on offer.”
Regular groups to the café include a group of ladies who meet up once a week for scrambled eggs and a catch-up, as well as cyclists. “Cyclists love flapjacks, so I always make sure I have plenty made for Saturdays.”
The shabby chic café is compact with 24 covers and ‘we welcome small dogs’ says Lara. On Friday, there is a range of food for sale, including fresh bread from Astons bakery, Lambourn.
Lara says: “I love running my own business. It has always been an ambition of mine and what’s particularly great about being here is we get to know our regular customers. I don’t plan too much in advance, I like to go with the flow.”
The café is also available for hire. “We had a christening recently and we have a baby shower coming up, I also make celebration cakes to order.”
The Blackbird Cafe, Bucklebury
Chapel Row RG7 6PD
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