An insider's guide to the county's best kept secrets
15 The Market Place
Tel: 01760 336671
A home from home rustic farmhouse coffee shop in the heart of market town Swaffham that offers exceptional food and friendly service in a warm and welcoming environment – one visit and you’ll be hooked!
Where to find it
Swaffham is a typical old Norfolk market town, found on the A47 in between Dereham and Norwich city. Browsing round such small towns as this are usually enjoyable, especially when you come across a little hidden gem like Market Cross. Overlooking the market place with a huge front courtyard, perfect for al fresco dining in summer, is a beautiful farmhouse cottage draped in green vines. With colourful window boxes and potted plants around its entrance, you’re enticed in for a pit stop. Once inside, a short break can soon become a couple hours as this place is so cosy you simply don’t want to leave.
What to expect
This coffee house is loved; that’s obvious from the start. It doesn’t feel like a public establishment but more like someone’s home. With its low ceilings and warm lighting, an ambience of cosy relaxation overwhelms you and you instantly fall in love with this delightful dwelling. Wooden flooring, open fireplaces and farmhouse crates compliment the rustic homely vibe whilst the chabby chic accessories add the finishing touches with bunting hung from the ceiling and garlands of hearts adorning the walls. All this creates a homemade feel that is reflected in owner, Kay Wells’ food. Everything is lovingly prepared from hand and delivered with quality and care. Upstairs, as well as extra seating, you’ll find a cosy lounge to unwind in with leather sofas, games and homely decor everywhere.
What’s on the menu
Market Cross is a coffee shop cum bar cum restaurant. If afternoon tea is what you seek, then you’ll not be disappointed. With a large selection of leaf and envelope teas, coffees, espressos and chocolate indulgence, you’re spoilt for choice, plus the cakes, scones and treats on display will do nothing for your resistance – they all look and taste divine. Fully licensed with a varied offering of beer, wine and spirits, this is also a place to meet for a quiet drink. Three nights a week it opens up as a full restaurant with an extensive and ever changing menu, and Sundays it offers a superb roast. It has a refreshingly varied light bite menu too for lunchtimes throughout the week.
All the usual snacks are present – ciabattas, baguettes, homemade soup and jacket potatoes – but as Kay says “we don’t just serve cheese and beans”. There’s a large specials board daily and the set menu changes every 6-8 weeks but you’ll always find original and inviting offerings. Leek and mushroom, and homemade chilli jacket potato toppings for instance, and haloumi and mint mayo, smoked salmon and cream cheese, and roasted vegetables and cheddar ciabatta fillings. On the evening menu, expect delights such as whitebait, duck pate, and bacon and black pudding salad for starters, and crayfish and salmon linguini in white wine sauce, roast pork and homemade apple sauce, and cream cheese and spinach stuffed chicken for main. I won’t go into detail on the desserts or you’ll be drooling at the mouth but trust me when I say they’re mouth-wateringly good. Vegetarians are well catered for as well as those with dietary requirements – gluten free cakes are available too.
Market Cross is open 7 days a week: Monday to Wednesday 10-6pm, Thursday to Friday 10-11pm, Saturday 9.30-11pm, and Sunday 10-4pm. They also offer a take away menu of hot drinks, cakes, sandwiches, ciabattas and jacket potatoes. Sunday roast is £7.95. There is a market in Swaffham on Saturdays, plus an Arts & Crafts market on Fridays, and a Farmer’s market on every 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month.