Woods Cafe: Cardinham Woods
Wood-smoke and a warming hum rise from the valley which embraces Lara and David Spurrell’s Woods Café. Crossing the twinkling brook which plays a sweet melody above the cosy cottage’s reverberations, I felt like I was in a Hardy novel. “To dwellers in a wood almost every species of tree has its voice as well as its feature.” As the café’s dell sits its dwellers directly under the greenwood tree, Cardinham wood’s voice is part of your conversation.
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A Midsummer Night's Dream... with clotted cream
Open every day of the year (except Christmas day) from 10.30 until
4.30. In the summer the opening hours
are extended - but please ring to check.
On a February day which thawed many folks’ winter hibernation instincts, the tables outside were packed. With beautiful carved posts for their leads, dogs are invited to look on longingly as their owners munch boutique sandwiches; slurp inventive soups; cup Origin coffee.
It felt even more spring-like inside as flowers bloom on every surface in a pretty pastel homage to Cath Kidston and in reverence of all things hand-made – as David says: “If you can’t do kitsch in a turn of the century woodsman’s cottage, where can you do it?”
The positive up-beat vibe sings not only of the inviting space and dedication of the duo behind the café but also of their customers’ satisfaction. Food is locally sourced and organic wherever possible. Specials are creative and nourishing – and, well, special. The chick pea tagine and winter ploughman’s with melted brie, blue cheese, walnut salad and pickled pear are highlights on a menu which changes seasonally and reflects Lara’s culinary passion.
“Lara loves food and loves experimenting,” says David, and it’s clear that her native Cornwall inspires her flavour combinations. With six years’ experience himself, this is the team to watch. Their plans are ambitious but suit the ambience of these woods. The magical quality to the glade behind the café could seduce many couples to choose Cardinham for their wedding – a market Woods Café is beginning to cater for. Their yurt completes the ethereal, yet easy-going, feel of the venue. No wonder these guys are a feather in the Forestry Commission’s flat cap.
Securing the café’s tenancy on the day before their wedding in 2009, David and Lara’s roots in this valley are unequivocally romantic and have borne fruit not only in the blossoming business. The birth of their first child on New Year’s Eve is an auspicious start to 2012. Not that they need luck. They have carved a niche from honesty and hard work, and it’s evident that Wood’s Café is growing into a mighty oak.
Persephone is a shy lass taking only tentative steps onto the earth, so we may yet see winter’s dreary shroud return – however, in Woods Café, spring not only blooms but sings eternal.