Fri. May 24th, 2024

Visit this hidden gem in Bury St Edmunds!

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It’s the Easter holidays. One of my regular battles during school holidays is persuading the six-year-old that he needs a trip to the barber: a suggestion that’s always met with resistance. The answer? Bribery – this week, with the offer of lunch somewhere in Bury St Edmunds town centre.

For me, the criteria were somewhere independent and somewhere that wasn’t ridiculously busy. For him? Somewhere we could sit outside and soak up the occasional rays of sunshine that were peeking through the clouds.

I figured it was as good an opportunity as any to try the Old School Café, which has been on my Bury St Edmunds radar for a few months. You’ll find it at the top of St John’s Street, next to the church and within The Centre: a building that was formerly a Victorian infant school.
 

Old School Cafe Bury St Edmunds - Exterior

Old School Cafe Bury St Edmunds - Front Door

 
Now, the building hosts all sorts of events and activities and has spaces available for hire. It’s also home to the vegetarian café, serving up hot and cold dishes, cakes and drinks.

I hate how overused the term “hidden gem” has become, but the Old School Café definitely fits the definition. Even on a Wednesday lunchtime (one of the town’s two market days), with plenty of kids in town to meet baby dinosaurs, the Easter bunny and the Easter chick, it was still relatively empty.

The front door leads through to a beautiful room with a lofty ceiling and a small selection of gifts for sale. You’ll then enter the café itself, with further seating, a tantalising display of cookies and cakes, a children’s area and shelves heaving with books for you to enjoy while you’re there.
 

Old School Cafe Bury St Edmunds - Front Room

Old School Cafe Bury St Edmunds - Cakes

Old School Cafe Bury St Edmunds - Kids' Area

 
Out the back there’s a suntrap of a garden, with lovely views of the church spire and plenty of flowers that give the area a relaxing, homely feel. It was a *little* chilly, but aside from one other table we had the garden to ourselves and it was lovely to get some fresh air.
 

Old School Cafe Bury St Edmunds - Garden 1

Old School Cafe Bury St Edmunds - Garden 2

 
The menu is simple: it’s toasted sandwiches, flatbreads, salads and a few other options. Everything is vegetarian, and their dishes are also available gluten-free or vegan. The prices are also decent, with lunch dishes ranging from £6.95 to £8.50.
 

Old School Cafe Bury St Edmunds - Lunch Menu

 
We shared a glass of raspberry and apple juice (£3), the perfect balance of tangy and sweet, while we waited for our food. The boy loves a hummus bowl so I wasn’t surprised that he chose the loaded hummus (£6.95). The sizeable bowl of fairly coarsely-blitzed hummus was full of flavour, added to by the topping of salty olives, juicy pomegranate and crunchy pumpkin seeds. There was supposed to be feta too but this was missing – and as nobody came out to the garden to see how our meal was going, I couldn’t bring it up at the time, annoyingly. The flatbread was delicious: warm and pillowy and just enough to scoop up the hummus and its variety of toppings.
 

Old School Cafe Bury St Edmunds - Loaded Hummus

 
For me, it was the shawarma halloumi flatbread (£6.95). Again, one missing element here: there was no sign of the fresh mint that was promised. The warm flatbread, though, was generously slathered with tahini yoghurt (the tahini flavour was sadly lacking), more fresh pomegranate and pumpkin seeds, salad leaves and the halloumi itself. The flavour was beautiful, with plenty of warming spices coating the three generous slabs of the salty cheese.
 

Old School Cafe Bury St Edmunds - Shawarma Halloumi Flatbread

 
Yes, there were a few small niggles but overall we were really happy with our lunch at the Old School Café in Bury St Edmunds. It’s a beautiful spot staffed by both paid workers and volunteers, and everyone we spoke to was so friendly. I love the fact that they have such a great setup for children, and the 100% vegetarian menu is varied, exciting and – based on what we tried – delicious. I’m looking forward to heading back again in the near future.
 

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