Flat White Durham Cafe Review


flat white bikeWe’d been wanting to try Flat White for such a long time, but when we walked past it was always either full or closed. The place is mega-popular! Then, a cunning plan was hatched – we’d go on a Sunday morning when everyone was still sleeping off their hangovers. We parked up on the little access road for Baths Bridge (parking is free there all day on a Sunday) and scuttled along the river bank past The Boat House, under Elvet Bridge and up past Klute nightclub (voted 2nd worst in Europe apparently, but haven’t been in since I was 18) to the cafe which is tucked into a little niche behind Vanmildert clothes shop. At first glance you’d think it is a suicidal place to put a business as there’s little to no footfall, but it works.

Outside is the famous Flat White Bike, and a couple of tables perched on a crazy angle as the road outside slopes back towards the river. We decided to go inside as although Spring had officially Sprung, the outside tables are still in the shade and it was still nippy at such an early hour.

 

Poking our head in the door, expecting there to be plenty of seats, we were astonished to find only one free table! Flat White is indeed much in demand, even at a silly hour on Sunday morning by people with hangovers. Seriously though, the place was rammed with people of all ages, some enjoying just a coffee and others going for food too. We’d had no breakfast, so decided to eat too.flat white durham inside

 

Inside Flat White is like someone has set up a cafe in a large shed. It’s L-shaped, arranged around the main counter. There’s all kinds of brick-a-brack adorning the walls and it’s very ‘busy’, but the decor in flat white just gives a feeling of homeliness and acceptance. Each rustic table has free newspapers and a clipboard with the menu on it. Not a lot of money has been spent on presentation here, but it doesn’t seem to matter as it all adds to the charm of the place. Don’t spend time waiting for waitress service (there isn’t any), you order the food at the counter and pay for it on the spot. It came to just a shade under £15.

We selected Smoked Salmon and Scrambled Egg on Toast (£6.50) for Mrs Durham Food and Drink, and I opted for Wensleydale Cheese and Mango Chutney Sandwich (£4.50). We both had an Americano Coffee (£1.85) to wake us up. Flat White Durham is one of these places that doesn’t serve op plates, they use (bread) boards. They use a paper sheet to cover and the food is served on top. Again, this fits in well with the rest of the quirkiness. Mrs DFD reported that the scrambled egg had ‘melt in the mouthiness’ and the salmon was first class too. My cheese sandwich was also really tasty, served in brown bread with crisps. The Wensleydale cheese was shaved thin like Parmesan and the Mango Chutney gave it that exotic almost West Indian feel.

flat white durham smoked salmon and scrambled egg on toastflat white durham wensleydale cheese and mango chutney sandwich

We both decided we could probably spend a good deal of time in Flat White Durham. It could easily become our regular Sunday morning indulgence, just chilling and leafing through the Sunday Times whilst taking our early morning caffeine hit. A lovely place, tucked away where you’d least expect to find it.

Durham Food and Drink Ratings
First Impression : 9, Service : 8, Food : 8, Value : 8

Flat white Durham rated 8

Flat White Durham,
21a Elvet Bridge,
Durham,
DH1 3AA
Tel: 07789 951149

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Biz-R Coffee House Durham review



Biz-R Coffee House Durham

Friday 20th March 2015 was a very strange day for a review, mainly because everyone was completely transfixed by the day’s main event – the big Solar eclipse. We’d been intending to watch from Wharton Park up near the train station, but a last minute change of heart meant we parked in South Street and wandered down to Framwellgate Bridge to get a view of it above the Cathedral/Castle. We were joined slowly by around 50 other people, all hoping to get a glimpse.

Bizr coffee house durham

Some had professional looking kit with tripods and others were trying to use mobile phones to get a picture, no doubt with varying degrees of success. It was quite amusing when a delivery driver pulled his van up blatantly in front of everyone, obliviously obscuring their view. My own efforts yielded a couple of good shots, so I went to the cafe happy.

We shuffled our way into the Bridges Shopping Centre to the Biz-R Coffee House, hidden just behind Ciao Ciao. Took a while for the name to click. Biz-R opened its doors in late 2013. The cafe was very quiet and we ordered coffee and went upstairs. It was still quite dark outside, but the place is decorated in very bright colours that made the twilight outdoors even more intense. There’s a nice collection of furniture in various colours too, shabby chic-ed to impress Mrs Durham Food and Drink.

They have a nice line in muffins (blueberry and cream cheese anyone?), milkshakes, cakes and savouries as well as coffee. We opted for just coffee on this occasion and we ordered downstairs and sat upstairs. The coffee arrived in about 5 minutes. Nice deep flavour and colour, with a biscuit on the side. We sat looking at the eclipse photos we’d taken and by the time the coffee was finished, the second dawn had arrived, the birds had come back to life and we went to the seaside 🙂

A nice stop off from shopping, right in the heart of Durham.

Bizr coffee shop Durham interior picture

BizR Coffee House Durham
34a The Gates
Durham

Tel: 0191 3862471


Durham Food and Drink Ratings
First Impression : 8, Service : 8, Food : n/a, Value : 8

Biz-r coffee house Durham rated 8

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Vanilla Mamas Durham Review



Vanilla Mamas Durham

This little place was a pleasant surprise. The Durham Food and Drink bus struggled up the bank from the Stonebridge pub up towards Neville’s Cross junction and on the left was a liitle cafe awning that looked interesting. It was a Saturday afternoon, the last day of Winter, and the traffic was lighter than normal, so there was more time to look around. I’m sure we’d been past this way before and never saw Vanilla Mamas at all, but this time we managed to park in front and dash in. Got to confess, we needed a cafe with a loo, and poking our heads in the door, it didn’t look as if it had one, but asked anyway. Oh yes, but you have to go back out of the front door and use the door to the left. This just looked like the entrance to a house, but the passage led past the kitchen to the place I needed.

vanilla mamas durham

Whilst i’d been ‘exploring’ for the netty, Mrs Durham Food and Drink had bought hot drinks and cake. There are only about 3 tables in the place, and we got the last one. The two lads sitting in the window were having a fried breakfast, which looked magnificent even at 2:30 in the afternoon. Must have been students, we thought. Two ladies nattered over coffee to our right. Our coffee and claggies arrived just as the owner turned the ‘Open’ sign on the door to ‘Closed’, but reassured us not to worry, she wasn’t chucking us out.

The coffee and sweetness arrived shortly after and we shared a Raspberry Bakewell Slice and another claggy cake that I can’t remember the name of (it was cherry and white chocolate sponge-Ed), but it totally hit the spot. The lads in the window had polished off their breakfasts and were now ready to face the World, while we took a little more time looking around at the eclectic selection of pictures, mementos and nick-nacks and planned how we were going to attack the next DIY project. A short hop from here back home to Gilesgate.

vanilla mamas durham

Vanilla Mamas is a really nice, quirky little place that totally surprised us. The bill was only £6.50 altogether, so excellent value for money and 100% worth the visit.


Durham Food and Drink Ratings
First Impression : 8, Service : 9, Food : 8, Value : 9

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Vanilla Mamas,
10 Fenwick Terrace,
Neville’s Cross Bank
Durham

Phone : 0191 375025

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Caffe Capriccio Durham Italian Review



Caffe Capriccio Durham

caffe capriccio durham frontWe have walked past Caffe Capriccio on many many occasions, in favour of other cafes, as it always appeared incredibly small, with only a few tables inside, and a few outside, but ooooohhhhh how I wish we’d visited sooner, it was fab!

We visited at about 10am on a Sunday morning. There were more tables than expected on the inside, although still not very many to choose from, due to the quirky shape of the building. We decided on a window seat so we could watch the world go by. On one side of the doorway we had the choice of a breakfast bar style table, and on the other side of the doorway, there was a slightly squished two-seater table. We opted for the squished two-seater, but when we sat down, we didn’t even notice the lack of space, as the ambience of the Caffe Capriccio far outweighed any other thoughts. We were served by a pleasant and friendly lady behind the counter, and in the background was the sound of Italian singing, no not the radio, it was a gentleman going to and forth from the kitchen with the happiest sounding singing voice. The happy-Italian-singing lasted for the whole of our visit, with the exception of the odd conversation in between, and it was like a breath of fresh air to go into a place where people are naturally happy at what they are doing, not because of good training, not because every customer demands a high quality service with a smile nowadays, but because some people appear naturally happy, happy with themselves, happy with the world, and happy with their work.  On this occasion we only ordered 2 coffees, and two caramel slices, but without a shadow of a doubt, we will definitely be returning, on a lunch time next time around. When we left, we were waved goodbye by both the lady and gentleman.

Before entering, we had the impression that it was going to be a tiny place inside, and it would feel more like a coffee take-away shop, rather than a café, but how wrong we were. The size is part of it’s charm, it is perfectly formed, with happy-characters, and we left with a smile, with every intention of returning.


Durham Food and Drink Rating
First Impression : 8  Service : 8  Food : N/A  Value : 8

cafe capriccio score eight

Caffe Capriccio,
26 Elvet Bridge,
Durham
DH1 3AA

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Ciao Ciao Durham Mediterranean Review


A long time favourite with us, Ciao Ciao is a little Mediterranean bakery/deli at the bottom of North Road, just over from The Bishop Langley. We were first drawn to it by the wonderful selection of artisan breads displayed in the window.

Ciao Ciao Durham Inside

Since then, the inside of the shop has changed to make more seating space, but the food is just as nice. They make fresh sandwiches from Mediterranean ingredients, all wrapped up in your choice of bread. There are Mediterranean, white with olive oil and sea salt, wholemeal or spelt multigrain to choose from for the sarnies, but you can take away other options such as black olive and rosemary, or feta cheese and mint. The sarnies are named after Mediterranean holiday places like Kos and Tuscany, and they serve them hot or cold, to eat in or take away, your choice, so you close your eyes and make believe you’re sunning yourself in paradise. All the breads are made on-site in the bakery. Service is always polite and quick as you order from the counter, with the sandwich menus laid out behind, so it’s simply a matter of picking filling and then bread. My own favourite is the Milano – Chicken breast, parmesan shavings, Caesar dressing & salad.

We’ve sampled the sandwiches many times before at Ciao Ciao, but this time we just wanted a light snack so had a Shortbread and Filter coffee and Mrs DFD had a rather wonderful slice of spinach and feta pie (Spanakopita) and an infused tea. The Spanakopita was served warm and was worth the slight wait whilst it was warmed up. In fact, the first time it got a bit burnt when toasted, so it was replaced without ever reaching the table. I was offered a morsel or two for being a good lad.

Incidentally, Ciao Ciao also have a shop on Sunderland Road in Gilesgate, midway between The Shoes and The Queens Head.

Ciao Ciao Bread

The price for our two little snacks and drinks came to just £6.50, so really good value. The sarnies are priced between £2.90 and £3.50 are really substantial, so try these if you can.


Durham Food and Drink Rating
First Impression : 8, Service : 9, Food : 9, Value : 9

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Ciao Ciao
3 Framwellgate Bridge,
Durham,
DH1 4SJ
Phone : 0191 3830149

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Treats Coffee Shop Durham Review


Treats is a nice little place for a cup of coffee and a snack. Treats is about half way up Silver Street on the left hand side on the way up from Millburngate Bridge towards the Market Place. Once again, it’s up a flight of stairs, so maybe a bit daunting if you’re not walking 100%, but it’s worth the climb.

treats durham counter

Service is at the counter, but meals are delivered by the waitress to the table. As usual, we only went with the intention of having a cup of coffee and a scone, until Mrs DFD declared she loved the look of the Corned beef pie in the display case, then I had to follow her with some steak pie and chips, both served with mushy peas, so it turned into a total main meal at breakfast time 😉 Both pies arrived super fast and were delicious and with the little jug of gravy proved to be just the job for a cold morning this early in town.

Despite the stairs, the cafe is very popular with older folks, who use it as a place to get out of the hustle and bustle and have a natter, which is nice. Nothing is hurried, service is pleasant and the place is warm and welcoming. Note to the owner though, you need to invest in a proper Xmas tape next year, Dean Martin’s ‘Let it Snow’ became a bit annoying after the 45th consecutive play! 😉

Price wise, Treats Coffee Shop is very competitive, with a meal for two with drinks coming in at around £16. This was ok for us, as we needed to keep our pennies for xmas presents, but this set us up for the fight on the shop floor.


Durham Food and Drink Rating
First Impression : 8, Service : 8, Food : 7, Value : 8

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Treats Coffee Shop
First Floor
27-28 Silver Street
Durham
DH1 3RD

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