IF there's one thing that Durham is definitely not lacking, it’s a cutesy little cafe.

In a seemingly insatiable appetite for tea and cake, one after another has opened until the range of refreshment choices is quite impressive for such a small place.

One of the latest to opens its doors is Cafedral, in Owengate, just a stone’s throw from Durham Cathedral (see what they did?)

It’s right on the corner with Saddler Street and though it has a couple of tables outside (not a tempting option in winter) most of the seating is upstairs.

It’s a lovely old building and with its ivy tendrils curling around the door, it makes an enticing prospect for a casual lunch.

Everything about the decor is very Insta-worthy, from the beautiful patterned staircase to the quirky birdcage lampshade and mismatched chairs and mirrors.

The tables are crammed in a way reminiscent of an old-fashioned tea shop and it’s all very cosy and nice.

For a cutesy cafe it ticks all the boxes, from a visual point of view anyway.

When me and my partner Carlo popped in at Saturday lunch time the place was almost full but we grabbed the last table.

Seated in an old church pew we had a chance to look at the menu, which had a fairly solid savoury selection of paninis, soups, salads and pies.

For those so inclined, there’s also a few vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.

After a bit of umming and ahhing I finally decided on the “best of British platter” (£7.95) – essentially a ploughman’s with baked ham, pork pie, cheese, pease pudding, salad and crusty bread.

Carlo’s first choice was a brie and bacon Panini, but after a last-minute change of heart went for one of the specials – chicken, leek and bacon pie (£6.95).

The place was busy but even so the service was rather slow. We had both finished a coffee and juice apiece before the food finally turned up about half an hour after we ordered.

Jealously watching bowls of steaming soup sail by, plates laden with salads and mouthwatering looking cakes being devoured by neighbours is one way to work up an appetite.

By the time it arrived I was ravenous, but unfortunately my food envy (surely the worst kind?) kicked in even more.

Carlo’s pie was amazing – a good, thick wadge of beautiful flaky pastry and creamy chicken and bacon.

Meanwhile my platter did not live up to its “best of British” billing.

The good bits first; the bread was gorgeous – a crusty exterior, super soft inside. An extra slice (or two) would definitely not have gone amiss.

The salad, pickles and chutney were also tasty but the other elements were a bit of a let-down.

The menu said the ham was baked but it looked and tasted like it was pre-formed; the pork pie was bland and pastry a little flabby (I don’t know if it was homemade but it didn’t taste like it) and I’m pretty sure the cheese was a mass-produced supermarket cheddar.

They all tasted fine, but to be honest I was expecting much better.

After the disappointment of the main course I was definitely keen to try some cake. I was deeply torn between a really fudgey looking chocolate cake (gluten free) and lemon drizzle cake but decided to go for the latter.

Lemon drizzle is one of my favourites (I make a pretty good one myself) and this one was a decent effort – it has a really good citrus zing but the sugary drizzle was just the right amount of sweetness. There was plenty of it too, though it didn’t get to the very bottom of the cake, which was slightly dry.

Carlo’s millionaire’s shortbread was good too with crumbly shortbread and a chocolate/caramel combination which was sweet but not sickly.

The final bill was £35.45, which included four cups of coffee (£2.35 each) and two soft drinks.


Cafedral, Owengate, Durham

Contact: cafedraldurham@gmail.com

Open: Tuesday - Saturday 10am-5.30pm, Sunday 10am-4pm, closed Mondays

Food: 3/5

Service: 3/5

Surroundings: 5/5

Value: 3/5