Lunch on a budget Friendly and relaxed community hub
Yeah, I like it here, man," grinned the chap with the dreadlocks, as he got up from the sofa and made his way out of the Arts House Café.
"That was the best breakfast I've ever had – I think I'll friend you up on your website."
I was only in the Arts House Café for an hour, if that, but it was enough time to get a real feel for this friendly community café.
There was the guy waiting for his coffee, apologising for not visiting recently – he had been away working for a rural community link service in Somerset, helping vulnerable people and delivering food parcels.
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And then there was the girl with the big rucksack, who had just come in to say goodbye as she was off to work on an eco project in Sicily.
These exchanges led one of the café's staff to explain why one of their mutual friends wasn't there. "She just packed her bags, jumped into her van and drove to Cornwall to live, without even saying goodbye – but that's cool."
It's this friendly, relaxed attitude that makes the Arts House Café the sort of place you want to hang out, a place where the line between customers and staff seems so hazy that you aren't quite sure who is serving and who is simply there for a chat. If somebody had asked me for a coffee, I would have probably jumped behind the counter to make one.
A striking, double-fronted corner building with scrubbed wooden floors, sofas, mismatched tables and chairs and walls covered with local artwork, the café has a higgledy-piggledy feel.
Open all day, you can pop in for crumpets and jam (£2.50), bacon butties (£3.95 including a free coffee) and ham and cheese toasties (£3.95) or order from the main menu.
Last week, the café launched a new range of pies from Elm Tree Farm in Newport, South Wales. Both the Boozy Beef (organic beef cooked in chocolate malt dark ale with carrot, potato and rosemary) and the Butternut Scrunchie (roasted butternut squash, caramelised balsamic red onions and feta cheese) are served with wild garlic pesto and mash for £6.50.
I went for the vegetarian cheese and tomato quiche (£5.50), one of those old-school quiches with a wobbly, cheesy filling trying desperately to remain within its crumbly pastry shell. It arrived with a well-dressed and generous portion of salad.
From a selection of cakes, a slice of courgette and olive oil cake with lemon frosting (£2.50) was light as a feather.