Tue. Apr 16th, 2024

Squires of Southwold. Simple charm, or desperately dated?

Squires of Southwold - Exterior
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I have fond memories of visiting Southwold in Suffolk as a child: driving up with my parents from Essex to spend the day on the beach and walking along the seafront.

Those were always summer days – but it’s just as great a place to visit in the winter months.

I’ll share some of Southwold’s main attractions in a separate post. No matter the time of year, there’s plenty to see and do for all ages.

Walking along the beach in the bracing January weather (hunting, unsuccessfully, for amber, which the Suffolk coast is known for) was understandably freezing. We needed to warm up. We needed to refuel.

We steered away from the plethora of Adnams Brewery-owned places on this visit, as we’ll be staying overnight at one of the local firm’s hotels in the near future. We wanted something quick, easy and warming, and the frontage of Squires of Southwold on the town’s High Street drew us in.

“Quaint” is a word some might use to describe the place. For some, “dated” may be the word that first springs to mind. The building’s charming frontage is adorned with hand-written menus in bold colours, and their prominence makes sense. Peer through the windows and all you’ll see is the old-fashioned sweet shop in the front room (boasting over 150 jars of sweets, according to their Facebook page): the tea rooms are tucked away in the back of the building.

Squires of Southwold has very much gone for the “quintessential British tearoom” vibe. I don’t need to explain – the photos say it all…
 

Squires of Southwold - Interior 2

Squires of Southwold - Interior 1

Squires of Southwold - Interior 3

 
Bear in mind if you visit that the single toilet cubicle is up a flight of incredibly steep stairs, with handrails that may prove unreachable for smaller children – and the toilet room itself is a draughty affair which could do with some modernising.

Some may think that the menu and food presentation could also be modernised. In all fairness, they did have a flat white (£2.95) and a luxury hot chocolate (£3.95) on the drinks menu, which we thoroughly enjoyed.
 

Squires of Southwold - Flat White

Squires of Southwold - Hot Chocolate

 
The food is exactly what you’d expect as traditional tearoom/cafe fayre: a range of sandwiches and jacket potatoes, alongside hot options that include soups, fish and chips, fish pie and a liver and bacon casserole. There are also, of course, cakes, scones and teacakes to feast on – including takeaway cream teas.

From the triangles of thinly-sliced brown bread to the sprinkling of cress on the salad, the whitebait (£6.25) ordered by the small child certainly gave off the appropriate retro vibe but he demolished it with gusto. The same goes for the scampi, chips and peas (£9.95) across the table: all cooked absolutely fine, no complaints at all.

My Brie, bacon and cranberry sandwich (£5.95) offered a choice of white or brown bread, and was served with a handful of ready salted crisps and the same cress-garnished salad as the other two meals. The bacon was nicely cooked, crispy in places, but Squires of Southwold were a little stingy on the Brie front – and the cheap, thinly-sliced bread wouldn’t have been my first choice.
 

Squires of Southwold - Whitebait

Squires of Southwold - Scampi

Squires of Southwold - Brie, Bacon and Cranberry Sandwich

 
We sadly weren’t 100% convinced by the service, which was a little sullen (plus one item was missed from our order). At the end of our meal we were presented with the scribbled order sheet which hadn’t been totted up to give us the final bill. We weren’t told that we needed to go through to the sweet shop to pay, which left us a little bemused.

Would we go back to Squires of Southwold? With so many other food spots to choose from in the town, possibly not. The place served its purpose, though, and there’s no denying that it’s a beautifully charming spot. In a town with so much competition, though, we felt that both service and food could be brought up a notch in order to better compete.
 

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