“ Address: 5 Broad Street / Ludlow / Shropshire / SY8 1NG „
The first time we saw De Grey's in the centre of Ludlow, we almost didn't go in since it looked rather twee and something of a tourist trap. The thing that decided us to give it a try was the fact that the cakes looked absolutely delicious.
Situated in the centre of Ludlow, De Grey's is perfectly suited to catch the tourist trade passing through the historical market town. However, it is such a fantastic place that it is also very popular with people from the surrounding area, thanks to a near-perfect blend of charming atmosphere and fantastic food.
Ludlow itself is a lovely place, and De Grey's fits in perfectly. An authentic, Tudor-timbered building, it's a delightful place in which to sit and meet with friends in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
The front of De Grey's which comes out onto the street is actually a baker's which sells take-out versions of their food and shows off their wares to fine effect. There is an incredible range of pastries, cakes, pies and other things on sale, all of which look superb. This is clearly a bakery that knows a lot about baking and takes a lot of pride in what it produces.
Should you venture into the actual cafe, it is even better. The restaurant section consists of a long room, complete with wood paneling on the walls and tables set out for parties of different sizes. There is also a very pleasant outdoor seating area, so if the weather is nice enough, you can sit and eat outside. Although there are quite a lot of tables squeezed into this narrow area, it doesn't really feel cramped, even at busy periods. And De Grey's does get very busy, particularly during the peak tourist season, and even there is plenty of seating available, you might sometimes have to wait for a table to become free.
The whole experience at De Grey's is meant to make you feel like you have taken a small step back in time, without it being too touristy. The female members of staff all wear old-fashion maid-style outfits, whilst the male waiters are equally smartly dressed. All are polite and greet you with a smile as they take you to your seat. In our experience, service is very efficient and friendly. Staff take your order quickly and are quite happy to come back if you've not yet had time to make a decision, food is brought quickly to the tables and in general, nothing appears to be too much trouble.
Don't be fooled into thinking that De Grey's is little more than a bakers/café because it offers a range of other foods: everything from a full English breakfast (delicious- just the way to start a day), cakes, afternoon teas, sandwiches and other hot dishes.
Much of the food is made on the premises (in the case of the cakes), cooked fresh on the premises using locally sourced products (in the case of the meals) or made up fresh (sandwiches). This is immediately obvious in the taste, which is far, far superior to anything you could pick up from a normal high street bakery. On one occasion when we went, for example, Mrs. SWSt chose a vanilla slice, made with proper vanilla custard and thought she had died and gone to heaven!
Between us, Mrs. SWSt and I have tried a whole range of cakes, from simple scones through to donuts and the aforementioned vanilla slice and a local delicacy - Shropshire Apple Cake. All have been absolutely delicious and baked to perfection. There is not a single thing we have had that we would not happily have again. Indeed, the main problem we have when we visit is trying to decide which of the many delicious cakes to try this time
Drinks-wise, De Grey's offer a range of different teas, coffee and cold drinks; and whilst the coffee might not be quite as out of this world as the cakes, it is still very nice indeed. The fact that this is served in such a pleasant environment by friendly staff only makes the experience even more enjoyable. Indeed, but for the distant noise of passing traffic from the road outside, it would be very easy it imagine that you had stepped back in time 100 years.
Price-wise, De Grey's is not as pricey as you might suspect on first glance. Yes, it is more expensive than chain coffee shops or even a few of the other independent coffee shops in the area. However, it is not massively more expensive and the atmosphere and quality of the food make it worthwhile paying this extra premium once in a while. It might not be a place you want to visit every time you go into Ludlow (which would get quite expensive) but as a treat every so often, it's worth paying for!
Where perhaps you can be a little pricey is in the size of portions which can vary quite a lot. The vanilla slices, for example, are massive; far bigger than the ones you buy from a normal baker and not that much more expensive. Some of the cakes, on the other hand are the same price (or more) than you would pay elsewhere but portions are a lot smaller, although again, they make up for this in their quality.
Being really picky, the facilities perhaps don't quite match up to the quality elsewhere. There is only one male toilet and only two female ones. Given the size of the place, this can cause a few problems and during busy periods, queues can develop.
Much though we love De Grey's, it's probably a good job that we live a long way away and can only visit it very occasionally. It sells such nice food that if we lived nearby, we would both be fat as pigs and possibly bankrupt!
De Grey's Tea Room
5 Broad Street
Tel: 01584 872764
(c) Copyright SWSt 2012