A whale of a lunchtime
Sarah Eddy joined busy execs and yummy mummies at Stokes’ Lawn Café to experience one of the city’s most innovative eateries.
There is no shortage of parking at The Lawn, which makes this café one of the most accessible if you are travelling by car. Since the complex was purchased by Stokes three years ago, each time I have visited, more businesses have established themselves in this prime uphill spot. We visited midweek, at 12.30 and already a mix of lunching professionals, families and city visitors had occupied most of the tables. We found a corner banquette which gave us a great view across the room and bar.
The interior has been designed using industrial materials such as scaffolding to support shelving and a mix of natural wood and recycled hessian coffee bean bags covering seating. The interior is bright and vibrant with upbeat jazz and soft rock playing in the background. Suspended high in the roof space is ‘Lulu’ the whale sculpture who gives a real ‘wow’ factor when you first walk in. Lulu reflects the Stokes ethos of minimising the business’s environmental impacts and is made from the recycled parts of coffee machines and plastics.
We were greeted with great friendliness and indeed nothing seemed to be too much trouble for the servers to make our lunch a thoroughly enjoyable time. We had been given our menus so I ordered a house ‘Full of Beans’ latte while my lunch companion chose a flat white made with Stokes’ speciality
Guatemalan beans while we considered our food choices. We both agreed these were wonderfully smooth and delicious drinks, with beans roasted on the premises (of which more later).
The menus reflect a relaxed, urban vibe with a breakfast menu served until 11.30am, a brunch menu served from 9am to 2.30pm, lunch served 11.30am until 2.30pm and afternoon tea 2.30pm to 4pm – plenty of choice to make our deliberations that bit harder.
My companion began with roasted vegetable soup and croutons. He declined the additional bread as his main was a seared burnt beef ends ciabatta, with lettuce, red onion and Stilton mayo with skin fries and coleslaw. I opted for a classic club sandwich with fries and coleslaw. Helpings were certainly substantial and beautifully presented. We both commented what excellent value for money we thought The Lawn Café is.
We then took a walk round to look through the viewing window of the coffee roasting and tea blending area. Stokes moved their head office and roasting operation from Mint Lane to The Lawn when they purchased the complex and now run a barista school as well as their wholesale operation from the site. The viewing room can be hired for meetings, private dining or afternoon tea – ideal to celebrate a special occasion.
Back at our table we couldn’t resist some of the Stokes bakes which are all made by staff at their Collection Café. I went for coffee, walnut cake with passion fruit while my partner in crime chose chocolate stack topped with millionaire’s shortbread. We enjoyed a pot of loose leaf tea served in a metal Japanese teapot to accompany our desserts.
If you are tempted by the teas and coffees you have drunk, there is a small retail area selling bags of Stokes’ own products, as well as the teapots, which sit marvellously on Agas and cafetieres.
The Lawn Café certainly has the contemporary edge which attracts workers with their laptops taking advantage of the free Wifi but also offers a broad choice of late brunch or afternoon informal grazing, which sits perfectly with a relaxed weekend.
My next visit will be with family I think, as there is plenty of outdoor space to amuse the younger ones while we indulge at our leisure.