See what I thought of our visit to the Bean Below cafe in Twyford near Winchester for brunch.
For a little village, Twyford’s got everything you need – a great pub (The Phoenix), river walks (Twyford Meads and Berry Meadow), a well-stocked shop (Twyford Stores) and, er, a clock maker (Hampshire Clock Works).
There’s also a cafe called Bean Below nestled under the shop. A small group of us headed there for a Saturday brunch – a meal I never thought I’d be a fun of – a few weeks ago.
Even though Bean Below is part of Twyford Stores, the entrance is off Hazeley Road rather than the main High Street where the shop’s front door is.
You enter through the cafe’s spacious courtyard, which has bags of seating and is sheltered behind the building. The courtyard features some unusual large plants and a raised coy carp pond.
Lee and Beck’s toddler Emmeline developed a fascination for the fish instantly. So did I, now you mention it.
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We’d have loved to sit in the garden today. But, there was a bit of rain in the air. So, we took no chances and headed inside instead.
The cafe divides itself into three rooms. The first room is the counter and kitchen, with seating in the other two rooms. The building’s quite narrow, so the first room leads onto the second, which in turn leads onto the third.
The decor has a rural feel, with bare brickwork, wood panelling, exposed beams, pine tables and a cottage-style door leading to the shop upstairs. One side of the cafe looks out onto the courtyard while the other is set below ground, with smaller windows at pavement level. There’s also a wood burner for those chilly winter visits.
Of the two dining areas, the larger room furthest away from the kitchen offers more seating. We took a table there, under a large clock.
Once we were comfortable, a friendly waitress came in to take our drinks order.
I went for my usual Americano coffee (£2.50) with milk while Tiff plumped for a hot chocolate (£2.70) and Beck an English Breakfast tea (£2). Lee, in a surprising move, asked for a “Very Berry” fruit smoothie (£3.50) – raspberries, strawberries and blackberries blended with apple juice.
For breakfast, I chose granola (£5.95), Tiff chose the sausage and egg ‘Breakfast Combo’ (£5.95), Lee the ‘Rise and Shine’ full English (£7.95) and Beck scrambled eggs on toast (£4.95).
Little Emmeline didn’t miss out, as mum and dad ordered her scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on toast (£5.95). Expensive tastes at such a young age, that one.
Much of the food at Bean Below is locally sourced, with eggs from nearby Swanmore and tomatoes and ketchup from the Isle of Wight. The Hampshire Jam and Chutney Company from Colden Common supply the preserves and brown sauce.
Our drinks didn’t take long to arrive. Tiff’s creamy hot chocolate was wonderfully luxurious while my freshly ground Americano coffee with a splash of milk was rich, delicious and not overly bitter.
Lee wasn’t impressed with the small size of his smoothie. But I think he enjoyed it even if he polished it off in a few sips.
When it arrived, the standard of the food was equally fine – the cooked breakfast featured good-quality meat and fluffy scrambled egg and the fried egg on Tiff’s breakfast roll was cooked perfectly, with a running yolk just waiting to be pierced.
Tiff also raved about the smokey tomato ketchup, which you can buy at the counter and in the shop upstairs.
Immediately after ordering our food, I had a pang of regret that I hadn’t ordered something more substantial. I needn’t have been concerned – my serving of granola was overly generous, chocked full of juicy raisins and served with fruit compote, natural yoghurt and honey. It was more than enough to satisfy my mid-morning hunger and went down a great between sips of coffee.
Meanwhile, Emmeline was enjoying picking the smoked salmon off her plate, leaving the toast and egg to mum and dad. Good move I thought. But then I can’t stand egg – unless it’s in cake, of course.
With midday approaching, some cake wouldn’t have seemed out of place as a dessert. And there’s plenty to choose from at Bean Below. In the end though, we paid up and went for a stroll around the nearby water meadows and watched trout as they slivered though the weeds in the Itchen.
We also popped in to get some supplies from Twyford Stores, the Bean Below’s sister shop. As well as being a post office, the shop sells all the essentials, including lots of local produce.
There’s an excellent beer and cider selection too with bottles from the likes of local favourites Red Cat, Fallen Acorn and Flack Manor. I took the opportunity to stock up on some bottles of Red Cat’s coffee-cream stout, “Huehuetenango”.
We had a lovely couple of hours in Twyford. And, the Bean Below is definitely worth visit for a drink or bite to eat if you’re passing through.
Info: Bean Below is at Hazeley Road, Twyford, Winchester, SO21 1NH. Phone 01962 711353. Open from 8am Monday-Friday, 9am Saturdays and 10am Sundays.