The Dabbling Duck in Shere - On the Tea Shop Trail
PUBLISHED: 14:44 17 December 2013 | UPDATED: 14:44 17 December 2013
In this month's outing, Louise Johncox gets into the Christmas spirit at The Dabbling Duck in the picturesque village of Shere, also the setting for festive film The Holiday...
Need to know:
The Dabbling Duck – Café and Deli, Middle Street, Shere GU5 9HF. Open Monday to Saturday: 9am-5.30pm, Sundays: 9am-5pm (closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve from 4pm. Open New Year’s Day from 11am until 5.30pm). Tel: 01483 205791 / thedabblingduck.uk.com
Having met as mums at a school in Shamley Green, Cathy Garthwaite and Christina Collins saw an opportunity for providing a café serving home-made food and selling gifts. They opened their first venture, The Speckledy Hen in Shamley Green, in April 2012 and had such a great response that they entered the bidding process to take on the lease at the former tea shop in Shere – and won. The Dabbling Duck opened in March and they haven’t looked back since.
The style at The Dabbling Duck is rustic shabby chic with the furniture collected from various antique fairs. “It is deliberately all mismatched and lots of the items we have painted ourselves,” says Cathy. “We seat about 50 covers inside and have a lovely garden. We welcome cyclists and walkers too.” There is a wide selection of gifts on sale ranging from scented candles to decorative signs, which all add to the décor. I picked up a scented candle called Hippy Rose by Littlecote Soap Co (£15) and also a Sparkling Wine soap (£4.50).
There are eight tables inside, including a window bench. On the Sunday we visited, every table was full and the place was buzzing. There were a few tables packed with cyclists in Lycra tucking into cooked breakfasts and ramblers in walking boots enjoying artisan toast and jams. We sat on a large table at one end while a couple sat at the other end. I liked our table near the back as we were very close to a shelf of gifts so I could do a spot of retail therapy while enjoying people watching.
On the menu…
All the food is home-made on the premises using high quality products that are locally sourced wherever possible.
The most popular cake is the Carrot and Pineapple (£2.95 a slice) followed by the Millionaire Shortbread (£2.50 a slice) and the Rocky Road (£2.50 a slice), which includes Maltesers, fudge and even marshmallows.
Popular savouries include the filo tarts (salmon and pesto; goat’s cheese; and chilli jam, pancetta and cheddar) served with salads (£9.95), home-made beefburgers (£11.95) and fishcakes (£12.95). The home-made sausage rolls (£2.50) have apparently built up a reputation locally as the ‘best ever’.
There is also a special afternoon tea menu (£13.50), which needs to be ordered 24 hours in advance, and over the festive period there will be a Christmas menu too (£22.50 for two courses, £25 for three).
I shared a slice of home-made apple and toffee cake with my mum (£2.95 a slice) while my son, Joe, enjoyed a breakfast of eggs, fried bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes and beans (£8.95). I also treated Joe to a Wicked Hot Chocolate with cream, marshmallows and chocolate flake (£2.85) while I chose a latte (£2.30) and mum had a pot of tea for one (£1.85).
A glance around at the other customers tucking into breakfast or cakes was a clear sign that these owners are definitely doing the right thing. No sooner had one set of customers left and another group took their place. A brisk trade indeed.
Shere is a lovely English village worth a visit at any time of year but especially over the festive period – not least because it also featured in Hollywood film The Holiday, set over Christmas and the New Year, starring Jude Law, Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz. After tea and cakes, you can wander to the nearby stream and listen to the dabbling ducks that inspired the name of the café. We strolled around the village and visited a craft fair in the local hall. All in all, just the place to get you in the mood for Christmas!
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).