The Raglan Castle Café is named for it’s proximity to the imposing 15th century monument rather than because of it’s being a part of it. The café itself is situated a 3 minute walk from the castle, in a small beautiful red brick complex at the rear of the castle known as the Mews. The Mews is a mini commercial hub with Bens Bakes, an on-site bakery (supplying the café’s bread and cakes as well as a butchers). News had reached us of the particularly good homemade soups – the very definition of hearty we were told. Who could we send to research this café with stunning views from the terrace over the surrounding farmland looking northwards? Only really one option, time to put The Mamil’s to work!
We know that their sophisticated palates don’t really get going until they’ve been through their usual cycling warm up routine of umpteen road miles on the highways and byways of Britain. And so our merry band of cake engineers will talk about the nice easy cycle rides from Monmouth or Abergavenny but we all know they will taking one of the three steep climbs straight out of the Wye Valley. In places these climbs Whitebrook, Catbrook and the Angiddy valleys can be steep up to the village of Llanishen. The boys say it’s downhill to Raglan after that. Caution here though because their idea of downhill may not necessarily be ours. Oh, and they suggest a loop route, to make the ride longer, via Usk. I don’t think we need to be Dave Brailsford (legendary Sky Cycling and England Cycling Team leader) to know which they opted for.
Alison who has run the café for the last four years needs to be on her game. The boys have refined expectations of good coffee and good cake. Dennis (the wee guy in the Ross jersey) is the legend of the group. At 84 years old he still holds the Welsh record for the 12 hour time trial and 168 miles on the roads around Raglan. Oh, and he’s in training now and hoping to improve on his time in next event so he’ll have his usual large cappuccino and a nice piece of cake!
We’ll start with the Illy coffee and barista machine, which churns out good espresso, cappuccino and Americano coffees. There are tea’s from “builders” to refined. On offer from the patisserie is a daily selection (from Bens Bakes as above) of great cakes in a variety of flavours. The coffee and walnut being popular but by far the best seller is the carrot Bara brith (fabulous spread with butter) for a traditional Welsh afternoon tea – or any time you fancy really.
All the soups are home made by a very nice local lady and supplied to the café. There are normally seven or eight choices and they are super tasty and hearty! On today’s soup menu were great old fashioned favourites like ham and pea, country vegetable, my favourite – leek and potato together with some nice spicier alternative like sweet potato and apple and tomato and red pepper and carrot and coriander. The soups change whenever the last of it runs out and all of are served with fresh crusty bread and butter.
The café is open seven days a week and is an ideal spot to re-fuel, break up your day out or to just while away an hour in the glorious Welsh countryside. Great coffee, great cake and great hearty soups and lots of friendly staff – what’s not to like?