Eat Out(side) to Help Keep Safe

A Review of Outdoor Cafés

By Catherine Moxey

In these times of Sars-cov-19, motorcycling is an excellent way of getting out and about with friends, being out in the open air and naturally at a safe distance. But when you are out on a ride, you are going to want to stop at some point for a rest and bite to eat. Where can you stop that will provide good facilities in a Covid-safe way?

This article shares a selection of places that we have found to be nice options to stop for a bite (or more) to eat, while also having good procedures in place to help keep you safe.  Many are also convenient for other attractions, or are interesting destinations in their own right.

Note that some of these locations were visited before the rule changes introduced on 19th July 2021, so they might have relaxed their procedures since then.   As the year turns colder, these might be venues to explore in 2022.

Gilks’ Garage Café

Bikes at Gilks' Garage Cafe - Kineton
Gilks’ Garage Cafe – Kineton

Visited in: October 2021
Location: Banbury Road, Kineton, Warwickshire CV35 0JZ,
We had a lovely ride through rural and forested areas of the Midlands (thanks to Dave Tomlinson for the route) to arrive at a low white building with Gilks’ Garage Café across its frontage.  There was ample parking in front and around the cafe, and we made our way to the tented area at the back.
Covid-safe procedures:  You can eat in an outside ‘marquee’.  In warmer weather this was open to the sides, but later in the year the canvas and clear-plastic sides kept the weather out while retaining ventilation.  The best feature of Gilks’ cafe is that they have QR codes on the tables, which you can scan to place your order online (from your phone) and then wait in comfort for your food to arrive.
On-site attractions:  It is a former garage, which is interesting in itself.  The food is very good – their menu changes from time to time, but I had a delicious halloumi salad followed by an amazing Oreo cupcake.  For any cat lovers: I spotted a black and white cat in the garden next door!
Convenient for: The British Motor Museum at Gaydon is nearby, and is stuffed full of interesting vehicles and history.

Café Corsa at Moto Corsa

The entrance to Moto Corsa and the garden
Café Corsa – the entrance and a view of the gardens

Visited in: October 2021
Location: The Old Brewery, Wyke Road, Gillingham, Dorset SP8 4NW,
Café Corsa is located within the Moto Corsa Motorcycles shop.  It can be a little difficult to find your way to the car park, which has its entrance around the corner from the front of the shop, but it is well worth tracking down.
Covid-safe procedures:  There is outside seating in the pleasant gardens, and for the colder weather there is a conservatory-like area, and an even more open area known as ‘the shed’, which is a wooden structure with clear plastic windows.  You place your order for food and drink inside, and the food is then brought out to you.
On-site attractions: There is a very interesting showroom with bikes and accessories.  Outside is an italianate courtyard garden, complete with columns and three ponds.   The showroom and cafe are located in what was originally a brewery, so it is a very interesting old brick building.  Their sandwiches and toasties are served with salad and tasty crisps, and they also offer a good range of main courses and desserts.
Convenient for: Stourhead, with its fine landscaped gardens and lovely walks, is a short ride away.

Brewers Fayre

Numbered spoon sticking out of outside table, awaiting arrival of food
Glastonbury Brewers Fayre

Visited in: September 2021
Location: Various, but we visited Morland Road, Glastonbury, Somerset BA6 9FW,
Covid-safe procedures: At first, this didn’t seem very promising, as it was cramped and busy inside and while there were some tables outside, only those inside had numbers on them.  But, it turned out they have a system for this: if you place your order at the bar and say you would like to sit outside, they will give you a numbered spoon to place on (or stand between the grooves of) your table
On-site attractions: It is a Brewers Fayre, so mostly plentiful food and drink, with a good range of choices for both.  At the Glastonbury site there is an interesting old abandoned factory building on the opposite side of the roundabout (for those of us who like that kind of thing).
Convenient for: The breathtaking rock formations of Cheddar Gorge.  A good stopping point on a trip to the West.

Waterfront Café at Benson

Outdoor seating at the Waterfront Cafe - Benson
Waterfront Cafe – Benson

Visited: Several times in 2021
Location: Benson Waterfront, Benson, Wallingford, OX10 6SJ,
This is a favourite place to meet for a coffee and a chat.
Covid-safe procedures: There is plentiful seating on a large grassy area alongside the river, and between that and the café building is an area of decking where the seating is roofed over.   They have things set up such that it feels safe placing your order, and then  your food and drink is brought out to you, but it is also possible to order online from your table.
On-site attractions: As you might guess by the name, the café is along the waterfront, and does have lovely riverside views.  We once had the excitement of seeing a cow being rescued from the river.   Their cakes are a particularly tasty treat.
Convenient for:  BMW Club Oxford get-togethers, and as a starting point for ride-outs.

The Cheese Shed at Nettlebed Creamery

View of the farm buildings and the seating outside and inside at the cheese barn
The Cheese Shed – Nettlebed

Visited in: July 2021
Location: High Street, Nettlebed, Henley-on-Thames RG9 5DA,
The Cheese Shed is owned by the Nettlebed Creamery, and was original known as the Cheese Hatch when it was just a serving hatch.  It has since expanded to serve a range of ice creams, cakes, snacks, and their signature cheese toasties.
Covid-safe procedures:   The seating is all either outside, or in an open-sided barn.   There is a hatch where you purchase your choice of food.   We ate ours in the evening sunshine at one of several circular tables made out of what looked like aged wood from old barrels.
On-site attractions: It is very rustic and charming, amidst the lovely wooden buildings of the creamery.  There is a ball run made out of bits of guttering attached to the side of one of the buildings, for children of all ages.
Convenient for: Nuffield Place National Trust house, and future home to BMW Club Oxford’s Green Biking trees.

Burford Café at Burford Garden Company

A ride briefing in the glasshouse area at the Burford Cafe
Main Cafe at Burford Garden Company

Visited in: September 2021, amongst other times
Location: Shilton Road, Burford OX18 4PA,
The Main Café is located in one of the glasshouses within the extensive site of the Burford Garden Company.
Covid-safe procedures:  The café has two seating areas: either within the airy glasshouse area, or outside in a pleasant garden area.  After placing your order, the food is brought out to you. We have not tried the Planters Café, but that apparently has covered outdoor seating.  The Burford Garden Company are very good at keeping their website up-to-date regarding the latest COVID-19 guidance, and provide full details of all the measures they take to keep people safe.
On-site attractions: it is quite a long walk through to the café, but that is only because the garden centre buildings are absolutely full of interesting things to buy.  All of the food looks good and home-made, and they seem to specialise in lovely mini cakes.
Convenient for: A good starting off point for rides to the West or into the Cotswolds.  Or as a shopping destination in itself.

Costa Coffee at Seacort

The seating outside the Costa at Seacourt
Costa Seacourt Seating

Visited: Frequently in 2021
Location: Seacourt Tower Retail Park, West Way, Oxford OX2 0JJ,
The Costa Coffee at the Seacourt Retail Park near Botley is a convenient location that is easy to get to and good for meeting up ahead of rideouts, or just for a coffee and chat.  There is plenty of parking, and typically you’ll be able to park the bike where you can see it from your seat.
Covid-safe procedures: There is a good amount of seating outside around the front and side of the building, with a good distance between tables.  The staff seem to take safety seriously.
On-site attractions: All your favourite Costa drinks and snacks.   The coffee shop is open from 6am to 7pm (7am-6pm at weekends), so you are unlikely to turn up on your bike and find it closed.
Convenient for: Meeting ahead of rideouts, or the centre of Oxford if you want to venture there

Bikes within view of the seating area
Bikes at Costa Seacourt

Author: catherinemoxey