Tag: cafe

I Am Beeston: Special Edition

For this issue of the magazine, I was asked by Matt, our editor in chief if I could do a more in depth interview for the #IamBeeston project.

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“Who was going to be the subject?” I enquired.  “Sandie Deacon of the Boathouse Café at Beeston Marina. She’s retiring after spending twenty five years in catering”.

Beeston Marina is always a great place to visit, with the narrow boats, the water and the scenery. There were quite a few people in the Café drinking tea and eating cake when I arrived to chat to Sandie. She was busy in the kitchen. So I drank a cup of hot chocolate whilst I waited.

To begin the interview I asked Sandie where she was born, and how she came to the Rylands. “I was born in Hurley, Berkshire. It was similar to the Rylands as there was one road in and out and close to the river. When I left school, I went to catering college in Slough. I got into cooking through my aunty. She was the catering manager at Handley Page, the aircraft manufacturer. I sometimes went to see her and she let me do some cooking. She used to cook for big events like Ascot and the Farnborough Air Show. I got my City & Guilds 706/1 and 706/2, which meant that I was allowed to wear the big white chef’s hat.”

Moving through the years a bit, Sandie met her partner Tony when they were both doing a sports course at the Lilleshall National Sports Centre in Shropshire. But Tony, a qualified PT instructor, lived in Birmingham, whilst Sandie was nearly a three hour journey away in Wokingham. So Sandie moved to this area, so she wouldn’t have so far to travel to be with Tony. “I saw a vacancy at a place in Stapleford, but was turned down, as I was over qualified. But Tony and I saw a job going at the bar next door to here. So I started there in October 2006. Then a few weeks later this café came up for sale. So we took it over, and have been here ever since. We also do outside catering for weddings, parties etc. We live in a mobile home around the corner. Which is good, as we are often here from five thirty in the morning.”

“Tony works four to five days a week. My daughter Sarah is the manager now that I’ve retired. Although I do help out when needed, as we sometimes get very, very busy. Take this morning, when we had a lot of fishermen in wanting a breakfast.”  I asked Sandie how she would be spending her time, now that she’s put down her mixing bowl. “I like photography. Especially birds. I’m always at the nature reserve, seeing what’s flown in. I do like kingfishers. I see them a lot, but they are difficult to photograph. I got a new Nikon camera for my birthday. I’m just saving up now for a better lens. I also like walking and reading.”

I asked Sandie about the history of the café. “It’s been here about twenty five to thirty years. Tony is into local history, and is a member of the Bramcote History Group.” Sandie highlighted a number of wooden plaques that were fixed to one of the doors. “These are of local people and customers that had sadly died. Here’s Owen’s.” Sandi touches the carved rugby ball with affection, and remembers Owen Jenkins, who unfortunately drowned this summer in the nearby weir whilst saving two girls that had fallen in the water. “It was so sad when Owen went. I knew him and his family. The way in which the people of Beeston responded was amazing. We did the catering at the funeral. No charge. It was the least we could have done.”

“We received four thousand votes on the Canal & River Trust’s recent ‘Best Riverside Café’ competition. We had a mystery diner in here.”

I noticed a photo of the late Mikk Skinner, who I had photographed for the #IamBeeston project a few weeks before he died. “He lived in one of the mobile homes too. Lovely bloke. The photo was given to us by one of his friends. Beeston is such a friendly place and the people are lovely. So laid back. I love it here. I sometimes think I’m at the seaside when I look out the window. There’s always something different to see throughout the year. There’s always something to do in Beeston, but I do wish events etc would be advertised more. There always seems to be a lack of advertising for events, even down here. I don’t know whose fault it is, but it should be improved.”

I also noticed some certificates and press cuttings about the café. “We are best known for our breakfasts and have received many comments in the Post newspaper. We received four thousand votes on the Canal & River Trust’s recent ‘Best Riverside Café’ competition. We had a mystery diner in here. The final is in Loughborough next week.”

Congratulations are now in order; as the Boathouse did indeed win in the East Midlands Waterside Hospitality Awards, and now have a certificate to prove it. I saw a photo on the back end of a Nottingham City Transport bus of the cafe. “I took that photo of the café. One of our customers spotted it on Mansfield Road and managed to get a shot of it.” The number of the bus is 908. So if you see it on your travels around Nottingham, give it a wave. “Buses around here are a bit hit an miss. I think there should be better transport in the Rylands, as people have missed hospital appointments, as their bus hasn’t turned up. I think the tram is good, and I will drive into Beeston and take it into town. You can park all day for two pounds.”

On the subject of transport, I’m sure many people will have seen the old World War II landing craft moored near the café. “That’s been in quite a few films now. The latest one starred George Clooney and Matt Damon (The Monuments Men) and we were hoping that they would have paid us a visit. But alas they didn’t. Suggs from Madness filmed here for an episode of a TV series called ‘WW2 Treasure Hunters’, which is shown on the History channel.”

The late afternoon sun was starting to set as we went outside, so I could take Sandie’s photo of her holding the now famous I Am Beeston sign. The last of the customers were leaving, and Sarah was collecting cups and plates from the tables as I said goodbye. And yes, I can see Sandie’s point about being at the seaside, with the water, the seagulls flying by and the pirate staring out from his crow’s nest.

CDF

Creative Beeston: Not Another Coffee Shop in Beeston

Trading places…

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Here at The Beestonian we are always on a quest to find out what makes out town so special to its inhabitants.  The I Am Beeston project addresses this perfectly, with comments straight from the local’s mouths and a more recent mission ‘Buzzword’ the search and finding of a poem for Beeston, also revealed what Beeston represents to many of us.

We were rather more than a little bit thrilled then to find that a group of studious guests of Beeston, who came from Thailand back in 2007, made it their home for the duration of their studies and were so taken with the place they decided to create their own little bit of Beeston back in Bangkok. They describe Beeston as the ‘perfect home from home’ and the memories they shared of their time in our special little town clearly illustrate how inspired they were by their stay here.

“They have carefully crafted a ‘laid back and friendly’ venue where they serve up lovingly prepared home cooked food.”

I have been messaging an affable gentleman, who introduces himself as Ball, which is apparently a ‘Thai nickname’ but I am too polite to ask why. He says he found Beeston ‘comfortable and sincere’ then goes on to mention the joy of waking up with the sound of church bells, the friendly atmosphere and enjoying shopping in the local shops in preparation for a feast at a friend’s house. He also alludes to the Christmas lights and barbecues in the warmer months, in fact food features quite a lot in his recollections of his time here. Favourite hangouts were The Bean and The Last Post, he recalls being amused by seeing a friend strolling out of Ladbrokes, on one of his visits to the latter, whilst ‘relaxing on a cold day.’

Within this group of Nottingham University engineering and business students lay ‘amazing chefs, food lovers and a talented baker’ that delighted in producing ‘simple but hearty dishes’ to share and socialise around. This was a hugely important part of their life in Beeston and one they have taken back to Thailand with them. When they designed Beeston Café in 2016, their intention was to recreate all of their positive encounters. They have carefully crafted a ‘laid back and friendly’ venue where they serve up lovingly prepared home cooked food. Taking influences from their favourite places in Beeston, and other places in the UK, they have developed a menu which demonstrates their desire to share their wonderful experiences with their customers back in their homeland.

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Obviously curious, I typed ‘Beeston Café Bangkok’ into my search bar and eagerly awaited the results. What greeted my eyes was a slick website with visions of plump juicy grilled tomatoes and sizzling chicken, surrounded by lots of happy guests in a contemporary setting. The décor is just as sumptuous, a subdued palette with accents of exposed brick and industrial shelving occupied with gleaming glassware.  The Bean’s influence is most noticeable in the banners attached to the low barriers that mark the seating area outside the café but the menu is much more eclectic. For 230 Baht (around a fiver) you can get all day breakfast that would easily rival JD Wetherspoon’s and there are hints of some of their ‘pub classics’ too. I have to say though, I was most intrigued by the ‘Croissant Pudding.’ They do seem to have found many uses for this humble pastry, including cross breeding it with a waffle at some point.

With Menu Options such as ‘Fill My Belly’ I would be surprised if they hadn’t sampled the local takeaways at least once. Incidentally they do deliveries but since the last parcel I awaited from Bangkok was sent by slow boat, took three months and was mouldy on arrival, I won’t take my chances that they will be ‘filling my belly’ tonight. Each of the former students has their favoured UK dish on the menu and they take their coffee seriously. It is described by Ball as ‘debated to perfection.’

Set in Ekamai, Bangkok’s hippest neighbourhood, Beeston Café is tucked away down a small side street in an area full of cool coffee shops, pop-up bars and vintage shops.  According to Trip Advisor it’s where the ‘city’s well-dressed and well-heeled spend their nights sipping cocktails.’ They could be talking about our Beeston then, with its abundance of cool cafes, and its burgeoning night-time economy which has been driven by stylish bars like The Berliner and Rye then fortified by the recent opening of The Bendigo Lounge.

When I saw that Nottingham Post had run an article about Beeston Café a couple of weeks back I sent Ball a few more questions in a bid to add a bit of extra insight into this article. Unfortunately he didn’t quite round to answering them so I guess we will never know if he ever had his photograph taken with the Beeman, watched a wrestling match at The Victory Club or enjoyed an afternoon boating on the lake at Highfields. It is however, wonderful to know that the legacy of Beeston café culture lives on 5,934 miles away (according to Google) so kop-khun-kha Beeston Café!

You can find Beeston Café on facebook ,their website is www.beestoncafe.com. Be sure to expect the warmest of welcomes if you are ever in the area and you do decide to pay them a visit.

DU

Norse Goods

Our thoughts on Odin’s Table…

We all know that Beeston is a cosmopolitan place, but I was surprised to find out how many nationalities are represented among the people living/working/studying here. The most reliable indicator to date comes from an ever-growing list compiled by the owners of Odin’s Table, the relatively new Scandinavian restaurant/cafe/deli situated where Chambers Pet Shop used to be. As well as folk from all the Nordic lands, customers from nearly 40 other countries have graced this smart eatery.

The menu is constantly evolving and includes cakes and pastries, sandwiches, salads, fish dishes, hot and cold drinks, with vegetarian and vegan options

It’s easy to see why the place appeals to people from all four corners of the globe (if that is actually possible – spheres had no corners last time I looked). For example, if you’ve ever been to the food bit in Ikea, you’ll almost surely have tried the meatballs, which are curiously addictive. The Ikea ones however are like a wobbly chipboard flat pack bedside table compared to OT’s bespoke hardwood bureau. Packed full of meaty flavour, they are simply delicious. It might sound weird, but I’m actually looking forward to the upcoming chilly months so that I can eat some in the cold. My favourite way to eat them is with gravy in a roll, but they are great with pasta too.

Meatballs aren’t all that are on offer though. The menu is constantly evolving and includes cakes and pastries, sandwiches, salads, fish dishes, hot and cold drinks, with vegetarian and vegan options. Well stocked shelving and fridges are full of fresh and intriguing delicacies too. The decor is clean, bright and minimal, you will get a warm and friendly welcome, and everything is very reasonably priced.

Beeston has never hosted so many places to eat before, with a huge variety of cuisines on offer. Having to make a decision about where to eat is a nice problem to have, but I’m pretty sure that if you try Odin’s Table then you’ll definitely want to go back.

JC