Having spent a great deal of time cycling north of Bristol this year, one thing has become abundantly clear; the Cotswolds harbours many a hidden gem. And not many come as well hidden as The Canteen in Nailsworth.
Tucked away down what looks like no more than some old, forgotten alley way, it proved quite a struggle to find for even the most seasoned and well-prepared of Bristol South Cycling Club’s members.
But a hidden gem The Canteen certainly is. Turn the corner of the alley and you’re faced with what can best be described as a carefully thought out tin shack type construction.
Clearly, I’m not doing the establishment justice. This is the best tin shack I’ve ever seen. The design of The Canteen, both inside and out, is immaculate in an almost rustic, eclectic/chic kind of way.
I guess you’ve got to experience it…
The Coffee & Cake
As much as I like the surroundings offered at The Canteen, they aren’t a patch on the coffee and cake.
The coffee is among the best I’ve tasted anywhere in the Cotswolds, probably on par with Veloton (Tetbury) and certainly more accomplished than that offered at the Berkeley Tea Rooms. Though Berkeley isn’t strictly in the Cotswolds.
Taking hold of my usual coffee-quality yardstick – the flat white – I was quickly impressed with how The Canteen’s offering stacked up, especially against its geographical peers.
As strongly flavoured as you’d expect, the sweet yet nutty flavour of the well-roasted coffee beans came across superbly alongside an exceptionally smooth texture. It comes heartily recommended.
Up next – you guessed it – the cake. And, like the coffee, it wasn’t a let down. At all.
My banana and walnut cake was well portioned – perfect for a bike ride, though less than perfect for the climb out of Nailsworth – and deliciously moist. The flavour was there too.
If banana bread isn’t your thing don’t worry; The Canteen’s selection is wide. And do you know what I really like? The cakes went well with the cafes decor; nothing over the top and excessively saccharin. Lovely.
Let’s not spend too much time ruminating on the suitability of The Canteen for large cycling groups. I first visited on a large group ride with BSCC. We were easily accommodated – but please call ahead!
On offer at The Canteen is a dazzling combination of pleasing scenery, flavoursome coffee and delicious cake (most of which is great for cycling). If you’re in the area it’s certainly worth a visit… If you can find it!