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The Waterfront Cafe, Benson

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I’ve been meaning to come to the Waterfront Cafe in Benson since my friend Katrina raved about it last year. Finally I made it there today with my 10 and 4 year olds. If you haven’t been to Benson, it’s of course best known for its RAF base but actually the village itself is prettier and leafier than I imagined – I think I’d been watching too many news reports of repatriated soldiers on wet, windy days.

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The Waterfront Cafe is away from the main village, off a very busy road that I think must be a dual carriage way. However, the road is behind the back of the cafe, with all customer views out to the River metres in front, and I have to admit I didn’t notice any traffic noise at all.

The view from the municipal toddler pool to the left of the Waterfront Cafe

The view from the municipal toddler pool to the left of the Waterfront Cafe

The cafe has the feel of a restaurant, both inside and out – there’s a fantastic, spacious outdoor decking area that kind of reminded me of New Zealand/Australian equivalents, with comfy seats, big umbrellas, shady and sunny space depending on what you want.

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The ‘cafe’ bit comes from queueing to order your meal, and paying up front. The food is good value, probably for the same reason – Finn’s hake and chips was just shy of £9, my caesar salad was around the same. Cass’s hummus and bread came to £3.50 but drinks bumped it up to £30. There are paninis and sandwiches on offer too if you’re looking for a cheaper nibble.

The food took some time to come today – 45 minutes – largely I think because of a mix up about the hummous. I asked for it to come asap for Cass, and the staff thought it was a starter so didn’t bring anything else out until it had been finished. When the food did come, I was so hungry I forgot to photograph it. Naughty blogger! Sorry about that. I remembered to shoot Cas’s half way through, once I’d scoffed his salad but you can get the idea.

Benson july 2013 009All meals were as you would expect really. Perfectly well presented and were gastropub standard.

We didn’t stay for dessert/icecreams (which looked lovely by the way) because we wanted to go for a walk down by the river. There’s a tow path outside the Waterside that leads directly from Benson to Shillingford Bridge, about 30 mins walk away.

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Moi, with the Thames in the background

Moi, with the Thames in the background

Benson july 2013 046We did perhaps half of it, as we had to get back for school pick ups, but the boys loved trying to catch the many butterflies and dragonflies on our path. No shortage of insect life down in Benson that’s for sure.

There are gates that would make buggies a bit of a hass, so if you have small kids this would be the time to put them in the backpack. Older children will be fine, as the path is flat and well-defined. A romantic little walk for those without kids too – I caught a couple in their fifties snogging like their lives depended on it half way down the track, the dirty berties.

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If you’re not a walker, you can rent kayaks and even a day boat (ie NOT a rowing boat, it’s a kind of cruisy thing)  from just outside the cafe.

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For little ones, there’s a municipal toddler pool 50m to the left of the cafe too, so you really can while away a couple of really pleasant hours in the area.

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I think what I’ll try to do next time is take the kids for a swim at Shillingford Bridge Pool, then walk down the path to the Waterfront for lunch. Have a kayak for half an hour after and then either return down by the Thames or catch a taxi if the kids have had enough. I’ll let you know how it works out, or if you get to try it before me, give us all the low-down!

Benson waterfront, Benson,Wallingford Oxon. OX10  6SJ. Telephone 01491 833732.

Please note that you can’t reserve outside tables – now the kids have broken up from school I’d advise getting there for 12pm if you want to snaffle a table with a view. x



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