From the outside, Karelia House looks like Noah’s Ark. The large wooden building that houses the cafe and craft workshop is reminiscent of the hull of an upturned boat.
And when I get inside to seek shelter from the May rain, I am glad to see a roaring wood-burning stove.
Karelia House describes itself as craft showroom and coffee shop, in that order, which will make you understand that the crafts housed within are really the main driver of this business.
Inside, there are banks of sewing machines for sale and thousands of items of craft accessories.
In a separate room through the back of the cafe, a small army of women sit at a huge work table, chatting and knitting.
But while the craft showroom might be the main focus, the cafe by no means plays second fiddle. The cafe is weaved into the fabric of the showroom, so that while you are sitting having your lunch, you could also be browsing the shelves or leafing through the pages of a sewing machine brochure.
I ordered the Americano coffee with soup (carrot and coriander) and scone deal advertised on the specials board. I chose a fruit scone but there are savoury cheese scones available, too.
The soup was fantastic, a peppery hit of coriander and creamy carrot with perhaps a hint of cream in there. Very moreish. As for the scone, it was a winner. Very crumbly but with a great outer crunch and a good amount of moisture inside. It went seamlessly with butter and jam. The coffee was dark and strong, exactly what was required on a chilly May morning.
The term “hidden gem” is often over-used in the lexicon of food writers, but it is hard to avoid when talking about Karelia House.
You could drive right past the place and not know it was there, but once you visit, you are guaranteed to become a repeat customer. What is also great is the sense of community it has. While I ate my lunch, numerous groups of friends came in for a chat and a good feed.
Karelia House is also pet friendly, so you can bring your favourite animal in to get out of the rain. Probably best if you come in two by two.
9/10 – Crunchy exterior, light and fluffy inside. Near perfect.
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe