I think it’s fair to say that the child and I are fans of The Old Library in Long Ashton. Since it opened in summer 2019, it’s proved a popular addition to the village – and it’s easy to see why.
The Old Library is a place that appeals to all different audiences at different times of day. Family brunches, coffees with friends, a change of scenery for mums with preschool-aged children, a quick and easy meal with the kids after school, couples’ drinks at the weekends…The Old Library caters to everyone.
At least once a week (ok, maybe twice) you’ll find me in there with the small child, normally with something involving stickers or colouring in to keep him entertained while we enjoy a flat white (me), babyccino or hot chocolate (him), and potentially even a pastry to share.
All the staff are incredible with children, and my son loves the fact that he’s greeted by name and chatted to by manager Harry whenever we go in. Me? I love the fact that the coffee is decent (plus the loyalty scheme gives you a free hot drink for every 7 you buy), that the place is only a short walk from home, and that the atmosphere – and staff – are always friendly and welcoming.
As you can probably guess from the name, The Old Library used to be…yep, the old library in Long Ashton, which closed in the autumn of 2018. As a nod to its former occupants, there are walls lined with former library books, giving the place a cosy, homely feel (if you don’t look up at the industrial-style ceiling)
The counter, adorned with strings of lights, is home to a delectable array of cakes, biscuits and pastries, as well as a soft-serve ice cream machine: a new addition last year. Choose from a tub or a cone, and when you order, you’ll be given a choice of different toppings and sauces, too.
There’s a decent brunch menu on offer too, along with salads, soups and a couple of sharing boards. And peek behind the counter and you’ll spot the enormous white-domed pizza oven in the kitchen, turning out a range of regular pizzas and with a couple of ever-changing specials.
One of the current specials is the Bacon Whip (£12) – a white mozzarella base topped with West Country bacon, whipped goat’s cheese, caramelised red onion, parmesan crisps and parsley. The slightly chewy thin base was perfect, and the combination of flavours delicious – I’d have liked them to spread across the entire pizza, though (especially with no saucy base), and the parmesan crisps could have done with being a bit crisper.
The Mc Cheese (£13) is another current special, with local steak mince, Somerset Cheddar, sliced gherkins and house burger sauce, with the option of adding red chillies to the mix. The big chunks of meat were a hit, and the whole thing came together for a real cheeseburger flavour…it was just the distribution of the toppings that again let it down slightly.
Another member of our party ordered one of the stalwarts of The Old Library’s pizza menu: The Plough. Priced at £12.50, it’s topped with grated mozzarella, shredded ham, mature Cheddar, shallots, caramelised apple and parsley for a ploughman’s in pizza form…again, the pizza was a hit, but the amount of topping-free space around the sides was a little disappointing.
As you’d expect from somewhere so child-friendly, there are kids’ pizzas too – £5 for a tomato and mozzarella pizza, £1 extra to add either chorizo or ham. It would be good if more toppings were available – maybe a build your own menu for kids, as with the soft-serve ice creams – and £1 for two slices of chorizo seemed a little steep. He thoroughly enjoyed it, though – especially attempting to use the pizza wheel to cut it up!
Having just complained about the topping quantities/distribution on the pizza, we’ve been back several times since! I’ve also enjoyed brunch at The Old Library a few times and had no complaints, and we’re regularly in for coffees. I’m sure much of the village would agree that it’s great to have somewhere like this on our doorstep!