Review – Beckworth Emporium Restaurant, Glebe Road, Mears Ashby, NN6 0DL.
That chilly, dark section of the year – post-Christmas, pre-spring- is not Penda’s favourite time. But the winter blues were wafted away in the company of good friends at Beckworth Emporium.
A distinctly upmarket farm shop – with local delicacies from across the county, a popular garden centre and gift shop and its own extended cafe restaurant – Beckworth draws most of its crowds when its brilliant indoor ice-rink is open (sadly you’ve missed it until next Christmas). It even has its own butcher.
Despite its rural location, Beckworth is often busy, thanks to the restaurant at its heart, both snugly indoors and extending out into a glass-ceilinged, naturally-lit open space.There’s no bookings taken, so at busy times you’ll have to queue for a table, but somehow even our party of 12, including children of various stages of wriggling impatience, didn’t mind the wait as staff kept the tables turning over briskly. We weren’t too much trouble.
If you go in a larger group there are some good sharing options to keep things relatively simple. Our attentive waiter, who we decided looked quite like James Franco, dealt with our noisy and sometimes complicated order with cheerful efficiency. Most of us ordered shared platters – either the meaty Deli Platter for Two (above left), with breads, pie, cheese, olives, fruit and pates, (£15.95) or the Afternoon tea for two.
This comes as either a vegetarian or meat option, and you can also get a gluten free version for one. The tea for two (above right) is £25, but as well as the obligatory hot drinks it has plenty of sandwiches, plus far too many cakes than can be good for two humans in one go – fat fruity scones with jam and clotted cream, pots of lemony loveliness, thick slabs of black forest gateaux and shortbread. Oh, and some crisps.
The volume of food and swift service made Penda overlook the ubiquitous slate platters that everything seems to arrive on these days (please, china is both nicer to eat off and easier for staff to lug about). While the adults were scoffing far too much cake, the kids were well-catered for by either picking from every platter or ordering their own giant fish-finger or burger meals. Food is only served until five so it’s worth a visit earlier in the day. You won’t mind the wait.