I have a few days off work this week and no concrete plans so I decided to take a short road trip to Hastings to review Cake Room – a new café that I found on Instagram.
Writing about food and coffee is something that’s happened naturally on my blog, probably because I enjoy eating. A lot. Sometimes I feel a bit like the food reviewer in Ratatouille, Anton Ego, only with an ever so slightly smaller nose and, more importantly, poorer.
I also enjoy the ritual of drinking coffee (top marks for the wankiest comment on the blog so far) and I live in Brighton where we’re spoilt for choice for nice coffee spots, so I thought if I’m always on the look out for the next big thing – calm down Simon Cowell – then you might be too.
I love tripping across new places to eat and drink and as much as plenty of people would do their best to keep these secret little gems just that, I wouldn’t be the kween of oversharing if I didn’t tell you the places that make my food (and flat white) babies jump around like ferrets in a sack would I?
It also goes against everything the food and coffee culture is about, for me anyway.
My favourite kind of meals are the ones where everyone’s digging in, no one’s worrying about the double dip rule and everyone’s talking over each other because FOOD EXCITEMENT.
To keep my favourite places from you would be like seeing a dog on the tube and not touching it – it’s impossible.
I fell in love with this place from a distance but Instagram could make my second toe look pretty so it’s really not real, Jess Glynne kinda love until you see it in the flesh.
My first thoughts are this place looks way too cool for Hastings – no offence if you’re from Hastings but it’s like someone once said, people go there to die. The pier’s nice though. It even won pier of the year so yeah, put that in your pipe and smoke it Brighton.
What Lauren, the owner, has done with this place is quite revolutionary really, when you consider the café landscape in Hastings. The town centre offers the classics: the Topshops, the HMVs, the Superdrugs, the run-down chip shops but just around the corner, you can see an innovative movement brewing. The cool cats are coming.
Sometimes I feel a bit like the food reviewer in Ratatouille, Anton Ego, only with an ever so slightly smaller nose and, more importantly, poorer.
Just next door there’s a café called Café des Arts and this place is a real business with a difference. They’re not just somewhere to dig in to your avocado chocolate cake but an enterprise providing training and work experience for people with autism. Here they can learn transferable skills to help with their employment journey. Isn’t that refreshing? We need more places like this please.
But back to Cake House. As soon as I walked in, it instantly felt familiar, which, for somewhere that’s only been open 8 weeks, is quite a talent.
The smell reminded me of my grandma’s larder which took me way back to my childhood. It’s a buttery, gingery smell if you want to smell what kinda beat the hairs in my nostrils are dancing to right now.
Lauren, the owner, was keen to stay away from the traditional cake aesthetic. So, perhaps in that sense, it’s the very opposite of Peggy Porschen in London’s Belgravia.
There’s got to be north of 50 house plants dotted around the place, draped over the counter, crouching on window seats or stacked on the shelves, and I can’t help but feel like an under achiever for killing every single plant I’ve ever had.
It’s different to Red Roaster Brighton (read my full review here) and other modern and minimalist cafes.
This is nostalgic.
It almost feels like you’re sat in granny’s greenhouse after school waiting for your pudding. And this granny isn’t putting her feet up and reading her cross stitch magazine, she’s aproned up baking your pudding from scratch. Because feeding you makes her very, very happy.
I have so many memories of going round my nan’s after school (context: my grandma was my dad’s mum, my nan is my mum’s mum, both of which I’ve mentioned in this post).
My sister and I would love nothing more than tucking into a pokey hat after CITV. That’s what nan always called them and it’s kind of stuck – ice cream cone just sounds lame now. I’ve only just found out why she always called them that, apparently it’s a Scottish thang!
All the tables here are second hand and all have their own backstory. And I love a good backstory. One used to be an old sewing table, passed down from generation to generation.
And the chairs came from an old campsite dating back to the 1950s. It’s these details that make it so much more than just somewhere to inhale a slice of cake.
When I asked about the decor and how this place came to fruition, Lauren gave me this look and said, ‘The chairs lived in our bedroom for months, stacked up in a corner, it would drive my husband mad.’
She spoke of the times when she barely had her business plan together and of sleepless nights trying to source furniture as she attempted to pull off her first café. And now she’s here, behind a real counter, serving real customers with a real sign on the window.
No longer a hazy, seaside pipe dream.
I ordered a flat white, a tuna melt (must have been missing Love Island) and then went back up for a slice of their vegan & gluten free gingerbread cake. How could I review a cake cafe if I didn’t try the cake? It is my civic duty mmmk.
Little did I know how much I would need that extra gingerbread fuel on the way home *cue the detour*
Our lump of rust on wheels that’s still missing a hub cap and caked in pigeon sh*t decided that today, on my day off, it would give up on life, overheat and smoke its way down the A259.
As I was trying to sort all that out, with absolutely no idea how to ‘pop open the bonnet’, as Joe put it, I then got my sleeve caught in my Diet Coke can and somehow managed to flip it upside down into that little dish in-between the gear stick and the hand break.
Not only am I caked in oil from where I’ve tried to prop up the bonnet without the facccking thing landing on my head but now I’m dealing with a petri dish of Diet Coke with about 30 sticky copper coins in it, a golf pencil and a cocktail stick bobbing about at the top.
And no, of course there was no form of wipes or tissues in the car to mop it up with because that would have been all too easy. So my cardrobe stepped up to the plate – that’s my extended car wardrobe btw.
I have three bin liners of stuff meant for the charity shop chilling in the boot, but their donations will now be one h&m nude top short because I had to use that to mop up the Coke spillage. RIP top that made me look like I was naked from 50 yards away.
I’m in a white shirt, I’m covered in oil and Diet Coke and now I’ve got to try and get across the A259 to this illusive highway place that looks like it could be a garage. Uh, I hate playing the damsel in distress but at the same time, I hope the nice man pats me on the head, offers me a blanket and a Hobnob and then calls my mum to come and get me from reception.
Anyway at this point, I’m still a good 40-minute drive from Brighton. The nice man told me there’s a leak, the car has no engine coolant in it and it probably won’t make it back to Brighton because it’s now rush hour and I’m going to be sat in traffic. Overheating. Oh goody.
He fills the leaky coolant tank with water and says good luck. I climb back into the car and think to myself, he would never have sent me on my way if I was wearing my top with cartoon t*ts on. Eughhh.
This is exactly why I don’t do spontaneous trips. Joe drove to Birmingham from Brighton last weekend and the car was fine but the minute I decide I’m going to be adventurous, someone gets my puppet strings, dangles them over a tank of gunge and cuts them loose for fun.
So I drove 40mph all the way home – even a granny overtook me on the dual carriageway, that’s how slow I had to go. But I made it home to tell the tale. Just.
Cake Room – good. Car caked in pigeon sh*t, missing a hub cap and now knee deep in Diet Coke and a festering leak – not so good. Time for a new set of wheels. Love you bye.
PS: I need to go back because there’s one thing I didn’t review… the resident sausage dog called Baxter!