I should Cocoes
The new version of CoCoes Café Deli at Strattons Hotel in Swaffham has been open a year or so. Emma Outten and her friend and colleague Rachael Young enjoyed a ladies’ lunch
It had been a good few years since I’d been to Strattons Hotel in the heart of Swaffham, but it certainly hasn’t lost any of its boutique charm. I love the fact that, once you’ve taken the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it turning, you could be in the middle of the countryside, and not, in fact, in the middle of a South West Norfolk market town.
CoCoes Café Deli, in the grounds of the hotel, reopened in its current form just over a year ago and is a thoroughly modern addition to the Strattons set-up. Looks are a bit deceptive from the outside as to how big it is on the inside – it turned out to be a bit of a Tardis.
The mustardy yellow seating would brighten up any lunchtime (and it was a very wet Wednesday the day we ventured out of Norwich), and the cafe soon filled up with the ladies who lunch crowd – and gents who lunch, to be fair.
Check out the list of suppliers to CoCoes and it is as long as your arm, so although the menu itself might not shout about being local, you can rest assured that it is. The sausage rolls, for example, are made from Breckland produce and have a fan in comedian Al Murray, who tweeted to his 300,000 followers that they were, quite simply, ‘the best’.
As I was driving, I had Pear Juice from Ashill Fruit Farm (£4.50) and my friend and colleague Rachael also decided to be the model of sobriety, by nursing a Fentimans ginger beer (£3), although alcoholic beverages included beer (and wine) from Adnams, Calvors Suffolk lager, and cider from Aspalls.
As is the way these days, CoCoes offers all day breakfasts (including full English style with Scott’s Field Pork sausage), and brunch – but we were here for lunch. Although there are sandwiches on organic ciabatta or Scandi open sandwiches on sourdough (such as Lockets savoury, pear, Binham Blue and watercress), we were more interested in a ‘proper’ lunch.
I had the CoCoes veggie meze (£8.30), comprising three marvellously meat-free pâtés (such as a really tasty red pepper and beetroot), roasted tomatoes, salad, lentils and CoCoes crackers. The presentation was on point, with shards of the crackers (seeded and olive oil) and oatcakes rising from the plate – and each complemented the pâtés perfectly.
The daily specials board is extensive, and included such things as Fruit Pig ham and poached eggs on sourdough. Rachael had the CoCoes fishcakes (manager Maggie’s fishcakes are very popular and we noticed that both ladies seated next to us had also ordered them). They came with slaw (have you noticed how often the ‘cole’ is dispensed with these days?), and green salad (£9). The fishcakes looked like they had a nice crispy crumb around them (and I think I’m right in saying that all the fish is supplied by Coles of Kings Lynn).
And it was back to the blackboard of specials for Rachael when it came to having something sweet: CoCoes meringue with blueberry coulis and crème fraiche (£3.95). However, her eyes were clearly bigger than her belly as, having watched her lift the lid of the meringue and dive straight in, by the time she’d got down to the base she’d clearly bitten off more than she could chew! I tried to help out but quite frankly my chocolate brownie had all but finished me off. This one had a Middle Eastern twist to it, made as it was with halva and tahini (£3) – all very dense and decadent.
On the patisserie table there were all manner of cakes to choose from, including a ‘sweet treat of the week’, and Jules’s homemade scones (to be accompanied by Norfolk Preserves jam and cream). And, with the weather warming up, there’s also Norfolk Farmhouse or Booja Booja ice cream to choose from. We finished off with a cup of tea and coffee (Rachael liked the cups, probably because a cat was perched on top of the logo and her cat happens to be called Coco!).
Next time I’ll have to remember that CoCoe’s is dog friendly (the dog biscuits for sale from Pooches of Flitcham were a nice touch). I also spotted that, on a Sunday, they do a roast, and just round the corner from the café is the new Bam and Arrow lifestyle and interiors shop, so plenty of reasons to return.
Reviewed in Feast issue 25 – May 2018