20 Sep Eliane of Hungerford
As I explain to my husband regularly, one of the joys of a day out is the stop for coffee and cake.
He persistently fails to grasp this concept, and trails into cafés grumbling and complaining about the price of ‘a bit of sponge you could make at home’. The only time he has ever looked even remotely excited about stopping for cake was when I discovered his favourite bike shop in London had a café at the back of it.
So, when I was told about the delicious cakes at Eliane in Hungerford, it was with great regret that I found the only time I could go to try them out was when he was at work.
Instead, I took my mother and two daughters – all far more appreciative of my quest for the perfect coffee and cake stop.
We drove through the gorgeous Wiltshire countryside to Hungerford, which sits just eight miles west of Newbury. The pretty little market town dotted with antique shops and upmarket boutiques sits alongside the Kennet and Avon Canal and River Dun, and Hungerford Wharf is a good place to start a walk along the canal towpath into the surrounding countryside – perfect if you’ve just had an enormous slice of cake!
You’ll find Eliane on the high street. It’s a super bright and airy space, with a huge glass atrium that bathes the seating area in natural light and opens out onto a small courtyard at the back.
It wasn’t until we got inside and filed past the most amazing array of colourful, vibrant salads, that we realised this is a café with a heavy slant towards healthy foods – it caters for vegetarians, vegans, raw foodists, people with dietary limitations or allergies, and those of us who just want to eat well.
But eating well doesn’t mean you can’t be indulgent, and Eliane’s healthy versions of the most delicious cakes, bakes and pastries are a feast for both the eyes and the taste buds.
It was lunch time when we visited, so we decided to try some of the other options on the menu before we launched into the cakes.
The delicious brunch dish of Sabich is a fragrant Midde Eastern stir fry of aubergine and potatoes, topped with two poached eggs and drizzled with tahini sauce, and is served in an elegant copper dish with sourdough toast on the side.
Warm za’atar crusted goat’s cheese is stuffed inside two roasted pepper halves and served with roasted red pepper and tomato sauce, and the ubiquitous avocado on toast is elevated to new heights with the addition of smoked salmon and perfectly scrambled organic eggs.
The drinks menu is vast, with rejuvenating juices, healthy smoothies (we had one made with fennel, banana, coconut milk, berries, courgette and mint) and an eye-watering array of teas. Hot organic specials include everything from a fresh organic turmeric and coconut milk matcha latte to organic, grass-fed beef bones simmered for 12 hours with fresh herbs.
But it was the cake we really came for, and we weren’t afraid to go for broke.
The outstanding offering changes daily, and although we had been told we HAD to try the coffee and walnut, that wasn’t on offer the day we visited. There were plenty of other options, though, from an excellent baked vanilla cheesecake to sticky vegan beetroot and cacao cake, and a moist and delicious Hummingbird cake made with fresh pineapple and slathered in a decadent cream cheese frosting.
The cakes all look amazing and taste the same; in fact, it’s hard not to try more than one – they are good for you, after all! Luckily, Eliane has two other cafes in Marlborough and Ascot, so I feel another visit could be on the cards.
If I tell my husband we’re visiting a health food café, he could be persuaded – perhaps I just won’t mention the cake…