A light lunch and cake at the Corner House, Winchester – review

Read this review of a light lunch with a cake dessert at the Corner House – a cafe/restaurant a few minutes from Winchester city centre.

The centre of Winchester can get a tad busy on a weekend. Luckily, there are plenty of places away from the hustle and bustle of the High Street and Cathedral Close to escape to for a drink or bite to eat.

One such place is the Corner House cafe on the junction of Parchment Street and North Walls. We popped into the Corner House one Saturday lunchtime for a bite to eat a few weeks ago.

As its location on North Walls suggests, the Corner House is on the northern edge of the medieval city’s boundary. But, it’s still only a pleasant five-or-so-minute walk from the High Street along Parchment Street, which boasts a varied selection of independent retailers that are worth a browse along the way.

Versatile

Open early ’til late, it’s not clear whether the Corner House, which opened in 2006, is a cafe, restaurant, tea room or bar. But, with a varied menu that includes meals, cakes and snacks, it fills any of those roles effortlessly.

The only thing that you might struggle with is perching at the bar. Fortunately, it’s table service all the way here making it a good alternative to a the pub if you fancy a quiet drink. The only thing missing for an ale fiend like me is a decent beer on draught. There’s a great selection of local beers in bottles, though.

I was planning on stopping by one of the city’s real ale pubs later. So, once we’d got comfortable on a table near the bar, I went for an americano coffee instead of something alcoholic.

Food wise, I fancied something lighter than my usual burger. The smoked fish platter (£12), featuring salmon, trout and mackerel, caught my attention so I ordered that. My father-in-law ordered it too.

Tiff plumped for the cajun chicken club sandwich (£7). We added a couple of mugs of rosemary chips (£3.50) to our order as well.

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The menu also features classic fare such as fish pie plus salads and flatbreads with all ingredients sourced locally where possible.

Vintage

While we waited for our food, I had a look at some of the more unusual items on show around the cafe including a collection of vintage radio sets, antique trunks and a decorative bird cage.

The general decor throughout consists of a mixture of distressed pine tables, varnished chairs, wood-panneled pillars, north-African style rugs, retro lamp shades, bunting and framed prints. It’s comfortable, homely and, I imagine, very cosy in the winter.

Today though, was a pleasant day and the opened windows and doors let just enough of the noise in from the road outside to add a bit of a buzz to the atmosphere.

Swift service

It wasn’t long until we were tucking into our food. As usual, I nicked a bite of Tiff’s sandwich early doors and wasn’t disappointed with this little cajun twist of the classic club sandwich.

I then made a start on my generous helping of smoked fish, accompanied by a refreshing beetroot salad, flatbread and horseradish creme fraiche. It was tasty and more filling than it looked.

My only tiny gripe was that I expected a little more bite from the horseradish.

The rosemary chips were also excellent, although I don’t recommend them if you don’t like too much salt on your fries (I do, fortunately!).

Alternative dessert

We fancied something sweet following our meals. This is where the Corner House showed its versatility because we were soon sharing a carrot cake and coffee and walnut cake with our post-lunch coffees and teas.

Moist and fluffy, the cakes were lovely and a nice alternative to a traditional dessert.

We had a lovely lunch at the Corner House today. Not only was the food and atmosphere great, but the service was also excellent with friendly and informative staff who achieved a precise balance between being attentive and letting us get on with it.

I’m sure we’ll be back, whether it’s for another lunch or for breakfast, afternoon tea, supper or just a quick drink away from the hubbub of the city centre.

Info: The Corner House is at 71 North Walls, Winchester, Hampshire, SO23 8DA. Call 01962 827779. It’s open from 8am (9am on Sundays) with late opening until 11pm on Thursdays, Friday and Saturdays.

Tom's rating: