New cafés which are worth checking out...

Laura Sullivan from Peppermint.

Laura Sullivan from Peppermint. - Credit: Archant

I am always happy to discover a new place to have coffee and cake, especially in a lovely location. You may already know about the Saddlery Café which is part of the Osprey Shop on Woodcock Hill, Sandridge; we wrote about it when it opened a few years ago. Peppermint Coffee Shop opened recently in an adjacent barn, and is well worth the short drive (or bike ride) over there.

Peppermint cakes.

Peppermint cakes. - Credit: Archant

Peppermint is on the ground floor of the Three Wise Monkeys Vintage & Arts Emporium, which is well worth a good look around too. I met Laura Sullivan who runs the café, and she explained that they opened the shop and café in September.

The café is very small, with just three or four tables inside, with a few more outside if the weather is good. All of the café furniture is vintage, and some of the chairs were for sale! I like the cosy feel of the place; the walls are lined with kitchenalia and shelves displaying pretty tea and coffee cups.

There is a good collection of cakes on the wood counter, including coffee and walnut, Victoria, lemon drizzle, fruit loaf and banana and walnut loaf. There is a nice range of slices too, including rocky road and caramel shortbread – prices start at a very reasonable £2. I noticed a few gluten-free options too.

There is a tea menu by Tea Pigs, and I liked the good choice of herbals. The lunch menu is very short, but has enough options to keep you going as you look around the shops. On the day we went there were four types of sausage roll including a nice looking veggie one containing spinach, potato and nutmeg. You could also choose toasties, soup with bread (gluten-free bread is available) or hummus with carrots and cucumber. Prices are very good; the soup is just £3.75 to give you an idea. There is a short smoothie menu too, including a great-value green smoothie made with banana, kale and mango for just £2.50.

I was pleased to see I am Cocoa chocolates for sale, including little bags of dark chocolate stars and their popular bars. I hadn’t seen their boxes of truffles before - they would make a lovely gift. I am Cocoa is made in St Albans by Jackie Smith, who you might also know from the Christmas Market.

Laura told me that the café has already been really popular with walkers and cyclists exploring Sandridge. We sat outside in the spring sunshine next to a rocking horse, and I can imagine bikes propped up on the old barn walls, and dogs sitting happily under garden tables and chairs. As Laura runs the café alongside looking after her young family, the cafe is only open 10-3 during the week, and 10-4 on the weekends (closed Mondays). If it isn’t open, you can always head to the Osprey café which has a great selection of drinks, cakes and lunches, which are mainly gluten-free.

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The vintage shop itself is very well displayed over two floors and you can find all sorts of crockery, furniture, vintage tins and crafts - it is a stylist’s paradise! Some of the stall holders have come over from the old vintage emporium on Hatfield Road, and it is great to see a new home for all these interesting treasures. Parking is fairly limited but a visit can easily be combined with a walk; and then you will definitely need a piece of cake!