Coffee under canvas

Nicholsons new yurt café at its fabulous North Aston nursery is a tenty triumph

The clocks have gone forward, the sun has finally shown its face and I’m now officially in sandals until October (podiatrists of Bucks & Oxon, form an orderly queue).

So this means there will be lots of summery stuff starting to pop up on the blog, and I can start by telling you about the new yurt at Nicholsons nursery in North Oxfordshire, which soft-opened a few weeks ago. I snuck in at its launch for a gander and it’s defininitely worth you knowing about.

Yurts are gaining popularity as cafes – there’s also one at Peterley Manor Farm in South Bucks and (from memory) Rectory Farm at Stanton St John in Oxford and probably others if anyone cares to prod my fluffy brain, and it’s no surprise as they tap into a kind of inclusive festival, upbeat, artisan vibe whilst no doubt also being much less hassle to erect than a whole new building.

The Nicholson’s yurt, like everything else this upmarket nursery produces, is beautifully presented – it was hand made in Devon, from ash timbers, sanded by hand and treated with oils with a fleece lining for winter! –  and offers more of a ‘dining’ experience than panini style dining though I think later in the summer when the family trail around the 23 acre grounds is completed that this may relax a bit.

Yurt chef Sonya in action. Photo: Ian Wallman

The chef Sonya Kidney sounds wonderfully quirky – she won’t be called a ‘chef’ because chef means ‘authentic’ and as soon something is labelled that way it ceases to be authentic, and apparently on being asked to join the team she leaned back in her chair and said, ‘See here… I don’t talk about food. We will just have to wait and see’. Well, she came on board and I bet Nicholson’s are mighty pleased, because what’s coming out of her kitchen is fantastic.

If you’re close enough to the village of North Aston you can test it out for yourself for coffee, cake or lunch, but if you’re further afield and thinking it’s too far for you to trek, I should let you know another excellent reason to make the journey and that is Rosara, the outdoor style arm of the business. I’ll write about this in more detail another time but for now think outdoor furniture, planters, lighting, decorative accessories, textiles like woollen throws and sculptures. It’s tasteful but very cool, and most surprising, not at all expensive. John Lewis should be very worried…

  
I’ll let you know when the summer trail for kids gets up and running, but even without that you can see with the nursery (one of the best in the country), garden design arm (Tony and Cherie have used them), Rosara and the yurt there’s quite a bit to get your teeth into here. Also worth putting the location in context – you’re 15 minutes from Soho Farmhouse (if you’re lucky enough to be a member),  25 mins from Chipping Norton, and 15 minutes from Banbury.

As always let me know if you make it there and let me know what you make of the yurt and good luck for not spending some money at Rosara!!

Hero x

Yurt opening times: Monday to Friday: 8.30am-4.30pm; Saturday 9am-4pm; Closed Sundays.

Nicholsons Nurseries, The Park, North Aston, Bicester, OX25 6HL. Tel: 01869 340342. theyurtatnicholsons.co.uk.

 

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cafeEAT OUT

4 comments on “Coffee under canvas”

  • Carolyn Grieve March 28, 2017

    Have been lucky enough to visit twice soon after opening, good coffee & lovely veggie brunch of rosti potato, mushrooms & poached eggs.

    Our first visit on a Saturday morning was perfect, unfortunately by our second on a Friday, the yurt had been discovered by the family crowd & was overrun by mummys, pushchairs & screaming babies. Worse still was the family group who let their kids run riot in & out of the yurt, slamming doors & generally making a nuisance of themselves while the parents showed a complete lack of interest or consideration for other guests.

    Onviously none of this was Nicholsons fault & the young male severs in the yurt are charm personified. I will definitely return although I may avoid a Friday morning next time.

    PS I could spend a serious amount of money in the shop!

    Reply
    • muddystiletto March 28, 2017

      Hi Carolyn, yes you’ll need to reinforce your credit card, it’s all too beautiful! Thanks for the tip about Friday mornings, with three of my own kids I spend my time looking for peace and quiet where I can find it! Hero x

      Reply
  • Liz Nicholson March 29, 2017

    Thanks Hero – lovely words!
    I have to add that I remember the day that Carolyn refers to – unusually free range kids!
    Everyone is always welcome at Nicholsons and normally our visitors are really considerate about other guests. Our menu is geared towards “good food” encouraging our younger guests to try an adult palate….no chips here, so I don’t think we will be overrun with feral children! We have added a book corner and the yurt has a calm reflective air…Carolyn, please come back and try us again!
    Liz Nicholson

    Reply
    • muddystiletto March 29, 2017

      A book corner is a great idea. There are 23 acres to knacker your kids out in before lunch too, so I’m sure it’s all under control! Hero x

      Reply

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