A contender for my favourite place on planet Earth, Canterbury brims with independent gems that just don't get the parade they deserve, almost masked by a plethora of chain restaurants. I implore you to look that bit harder to find the cafes that are just so darn themselves, they feel like old friends waiting for you with open arms.
Here's just five of the best places to get a cuppa, have a natter and jot dreams in your notebook.
Just over the bridge on Canterbury's High St. sits Boho Cafe with a sprawl of colourful tables and chairs at its front, and hustle and bustle behind its long, slender windows. Aptly described by the owners, Kris and Kate, as 'the kitchen table', it's hard to deny its Kentish charm although, in reality, it's far from quaint or twee. Rather, it's brought to life by the tenacious personalities that have influenced it. You'll be hard pressed to find anywhere as unique, from the old clocks on the wall, the Mexican paraphernalia, and a menu equally as colourful. Celebrating its tenth year this coming March, if you haven't been yet, I insist that you do. And have the Winston Churchill burger.
The Veg Box
|Source: The Veg Box Cafe|
Although the Veg Box has been run by Adam and Liz for a long while, there are still many that are unaware of this gem, tucked just off Jewry Lane, above the Wholefoods store. One of the only vegan and vegetarian cafes in the city, the menu boasts seasonal stews, curries and delights, and is open past the lunch time rush, making it the perfect hiding place to do a spot of loitering. If for some reason you don't make it in for lunch, there's always Liz's recipes to follow on her website. She's been perfecting them for a long while in the cafe and at home, so if you do happen to whip any up, I'm sure she'd be thrilled to hear about it.
Where else have you ever found a cafe come river tour? Waterlane cafe is another little known hot spot for seriously excellent coffee and ambience, overlooking the River Stour and its quieter, more rural excursion of the three tours you can take in the city. The kind of place that mingles singles on laptops, or poring earnestly over books, and couples leaned in close in conspiracy, it's away from the main high street, making it a great spot for a date or leisurely catch up with an old friend.
|Source: What Olivia Did|
With better health at the heart of its mission, Kitch is a wonderfully alternative choice, with a diverse menu of low-sugar and thoroughly Instagrammable cakes and plates. Unlike anywhere else in the city, Emily has carefully curated a bright and modern offering under an old Tudor roof that's just perfect for a cool younger and older crowd alike that likes to eat conscientiously.
|Source: Alfie's Explorations|
Seamlessly blending Spanish influence with British garden cocktails, the Wild Goose sits in a corner of the Goods Shed, a disused railway building adjacent to Canterbury's West station. Wonderful not only for a small plate and a nightcap en route to London, or surrounding villages, you can easily lose yourself over the rim of your teacup watching the bustle of the farmer's market, or tuck into my personal breakfast favourite, the rich and muddy morcilla with buttery scrambled eggs, which they serve until 1pm. No need to rush your Sunday morning.
Cafe St. Pierre
Like a little slice of France, Cafe St Pierre is somewhat iconic, even though if you blink, you're likely to miss its unassuming corner position at the lower end of the High Street, despite the winking pastries that are piled high in the windows.
Really rather snug inside, I like to cram myself into a nook and order a proper French hot chocolate and a croque monsieur so thick with grilled cheese, it's a knife and fork job. For some reason, it's always raining outside when I'm there, so you could say it's a rainy day joint for rustling your damp newspaper and trying not to catch the eye of the gingerbread men calling to you from the counter, or be dazzled by the gleam of glossy tarts.
And there you have it, some of the best cafes and things to do in Canterbury. There are a few I've missed off but will return to tell you of one day soon - if you're a local, where are you favourite haunts in Kent? And, if you're heading down to Kent for a visit, do drop me a line and I'd be thrilled to tell you more.