Tue, 23 Jul 2019
IF you’re looking for a coffee stop away from the town centre, then just a short walk across Victoria Park and into Faraday Road will lead you to Mrs B’s Kitchen Café.
Light and airy with a rustic homely feel, the premises are also home to Mrs B’s commercial catering operations.
Café customers can sit and see all the preparations going on in the large open-plan state-of-the-art kitchen.
Homemade cake is enticingly displayed at the counter, alongside a range of quiches and salads – including vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free – which are chalked up on the blackboard for you to choose from.
Mrs B is the brainchild of Emma Benson, who started her catering business 16 years ago when the children started school, then providing family lunches and small dinner parties. The business took off and about eight years ago she expanded her operation to provide food at weddings and corporate events.
Earlier this year, she decided to take the business a step further, out of her home, into business premises and, in addition, to open the café.
There is a meeting room for hire within the large premises where small groups – charities or businesses – can get together.
Mrs B is a champion of local independent businesses. She recently hosted a pop-up event, with Lonely Lentil, Pangbourne Cheese Shop and Cocoa Ben’s displaying their wares. A measure of the success of this, is that she now plans to host these events every other Tuesday.
There is also an exhibition of paintings on the walls by local artists, which changes every three months or so. The current paintings are by artist Molly Benson, based in Stroud.
The café seats 22 inside with more seating outside and is quite often bustling with customers eager to try the homemade dishes.
At weekends, brunches are particularly popular. There is a wide range to choose from, but Mrs B’s dirty scrambled eggs – eggs from Beechwood Farm, Hampstead Norreys, with black pudding from Vicars Game – or Russian scrambled eggs, when the black pudding is replaced by red peppers, are particularly popular.
Mrs B now employs 10 part-time staff and her catering business is rapidly expanding. It means, too, that the café menu changes daily, often depending on what commercial orders Mrs B is preparing, which is an added incentive for customers to pay a regular visit.
She intends to set up a chiller cabinet in the café soon so that sandwiches and salad boxes can be prepared for people in a hurry and also to offer a pre-order service for local business people on the move.
But while the wheels are turning in the background and the business offerings are expanding, for the customer sitting in the café, the level of service and tasty treats on offer remain consistently high.