Sunday, 7 December 2014

Kelly Holmes opens Cafe 1809 in Hildenborough


Dame Kelly Holmes - runner extraordinaire, double Olympic gold medallist and pride of Hildenborough - has gone and opened a cafe in the village. By which, I don't mean she's snipped a ribbon, posed for a photo, had a free cupcake and left. She's the brains behind Hildenborough's new addition, Cafe 1809.

Locals have been watching for months as she took over the site that was once the Fags & Mags newspaper shop, gutting the building before seemingly ripping it down entirely and starting from scratch. On Friday, the result of the long slog was finally revealed.

I managed to pop along on Sunday morning to take a look at the upmarket eatery. We were lucky enough to slide in just before the last two tables were taken, and grabbed a seat in the light and airy conservatory before going up to the counter to order. Having decided on our drinks orders, we went up to the till - only to find ourselves ordering from a very friendly Dame Kelly herself.

The drinks menu was plentiful. The choice of cakes could have been wider, but with chocolate brownies, lemon drizzle and oat cookies to choose from, most bases were covered. Whilst waiting for our food to arrive, we took the opportunity to peruse the rest of the menu. There's plenty for little ones in the way of breakfast, lunch and snacks - nothing too poncy, but good, homely foods like cereals or Marmite on toast.

For adults though, very little of the rest of the menu appealed. Healthy and hearty foods such as pies, quiches and soups reign supreme - and eggs take centre stage on the breakfast menu. Nothing wrong with that, but a panini or two wouldn't go amiss.

When our order did arrive - a lemon drizzle and a chocolate brownie - it more than did the job. Special mention must go to the delectable white chocolate - too sweet for some perhaps, but for a sugar head like me, it really hit the spot on a rainy Sunday.


The decor is certainly appealing - the main bulk of the inner walls consist of exposed brick, with metal shelves and beams, giving the feel of a trendily converted warehouse. There's a vague nod to a sporty theme throughout (perhaps that's the reason for the healthy menu) but it's certainly not overbearing enough to deter anyone for whom sport is an unfamiliar concept. Bike racks aplenty stand proudly outside, and a glance into the back garden area revealed dog lead hooks and even a canine water bowl.

On the way out, we stopped to look at the retail corner of the shop, where local food products (oils, chutneys, juices) are for sale, alongside a small selection of crafty gifts and cards.

And the name? 1809 (pronounced 1-8-0-9 if you please) was the number she wore on her vest at her successful 2004 Athens Olympics. Well, it's classier than "Kel's Caf''"

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