Ex Cellar in Surbiton - On the Tea Shop Trail

PUBLISHED: 11:47 12 September 2013 | UPDATED: 11:47 12 September 2013

On the Teashop Trail

On the Teashop Trail

Louise Johncox

In this month’s visit to a Surrey tea shop, Louise Johncox heads to the French style épicerie, Ex Cellar in Surbiton, where the menu is full of tasty home-made favourites...

Need to know:

Ex Cellar, 18-20 Brighton Road, Surbiton 
KT6 5PQ. Tel: 0208 390 6832 / excellar.co.uk. Open Monday to Wednesday, 9am-8pm; Thursday, 9am-9pm; Friday and Saturday, 9am-11.30pm; Sunday, 11am-6pm

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The low-down…

A café-cum-deli where you can enjoy coffee and cakes as well as good food and wine, Ex Cellar in Surbiton was opened by owner Simon Baile last June.

Drawing on inspiration from his family’s food and wine businesses, he started his first shop in 1998 and now has three in Surrey, the others being a café along the same lines in Claygate and a wine shop in Ashtead.

“My mother ran a top quality delicatessen in Islington in the 1970’s called The Hamper,” he explains. “And my father started his wine business down the road. So it seemed a good time to bring all of this family experience under one roof.”

Back in Surbiton, Simon describes Ex Cellar as essentially a French style épicerie: “Over the years, I have travelled extensively in France and always come across the local épicerie, a store selling a whole plethora of local goodies, with a coffee machine, a corkscrew and a few tables,” he says. “This has always appealed.”

On the menu…

There’s a tempting selection of home-made cakes on offer including lemon drizzle, carrot and chocolate (£2.40 a slice), gluten-free chocolate brownies (£2.30) and Grandma’s Treacle Tart and Cream (£3.50), which is a 40-year-old recipe made by Simon’s mother.

You can also try Tony’s Cantuccini (£1) made with the finest ‘00’ Italian flour, the perfect accompaniment to your coffee.

On that note, a cappuccino is £2.35, a latte £2.35 and a cup of tea costs £2.

If you fancy lunch, there’s a wide range of savoury dishes on the menu, too, including quiches, sandwiches and platters to share, with favourites including fish pie (£10.95), again made by Simon’s mother, and lentil and lemon soup (£4.95).

On my visit, I shared a charcuterie platter with my friend, Louise, which contained a generous and tasty selection of charcuterie, pâté, sundried tomatoes, salad and artisan bread, priced at £13.95 for two or £7.95 for one (a cheese platter is also available).

Incidentally, the bread is made locally by the Cavan bakery in Hampton and is also top quality.

Décor…

Ex Cellar is a comfortable, homely space featuring comfy chairs and sofas giving a welcoming feel.

“The most important aspect was to create a space that is relaxing,” says Simon. “No one is stressed about arriving or leaving. We wanted the place to have a lived-in feel, a bit like your favourite comfy chair at home.”

There are two big collages, hand-painted in 1983, which show 12 key moments in the life of a wine maker, one for each month. One wall is devoted to bottles of wine and foodstuffs and a large fridge contains a wide variety of speciality foods.

“It’s a family space with lots of personal touches from our time in the food and wine business,” says Simon. “We hope that, brought together, it piques people’s curiosity and creates a unique experience for them.”

Best table…

There are nine tables. The two comfy armchairs and low coffee table in the back corner by the window is the most popular.

The verdict…

Ex Cellar has a cosy, family feel with a European flavour. It is refreshing to find home-made family favourites on the menu such as Grandma’s Treacle Tart and Aunt Ali’s Quiches. The Cavan bread also makes excellent sandwiches and accompaniment to the platters. Watch out for special themed food events ranging from wine and cheese evenings to a paella night.

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Louise Johncox’s parents, Peter and Frankie, ran Peter’s tea shop in Weybridge from 1958 until 2000 when they retired. Louise is now writing a book about her parents’ tea shop, with the working title of The Baker’s Daughter (see louisejohncox.com/index.htm).

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