RELAX: The Field Cafe, Nettlebed
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When the Little Italy espresso bar opened in Haddenham a few years ago it really transformed the village, immediately making it a much more inclusive place, because the glorious thing about a coffee shop is that everyone can enjoy a brew and a slice of cake, regardless of age or income.
I had that kind of heart-warming villagey feeling today when I went to The Field Kitchen on Nettlebed’s High St, in South Oxfordshire. Like Little Italy, there’s not a hint of chintz to the place. It’s resolutely tasteful in its presentation, down to the Farrow & Ball paint and artfully artisan food crates (below).
I was half-planning to write about this as a cafe deli (part of my research for the region’s 5 best) but this is why I always visit places – it turns out the deli side is a bit of a sideline, and the big draw of this cafe is actually the food. The sweet potato frittata I had was so fresh it was steaming (the waitress is just cutting it in the photo at the top), and the salads, muffins and brioches looked incredible.
The building is an attractive, high-ceiling former church hall, owned by Ian Fleming’s family who lease it out in chunks, although I’m sorry to break the news that there was no sign of Daniel Craig serving frappucinos in his budgie smugglers today. There’s a cafe in one part, moving through to a rather fabulous, quirky interiors shop, Life, selling everything from exuberant chandeliers through to animal skin rugs, and also a village shop and post office.
Realistically you won’t be held here for more than an hour, but if you factor in some of the gorgeous countryside and walks around Nettlebed and its proximity to Henley (only 3 miles) and Greys Court National Trust (a mile or so), there’s a very pleasant morning or day out round here, with some fabulous cafe food attached.
The Field Kitchen, The Church Hall, High St, Nettlebed, Henley on Thames RG9 5DA. Tel: 01491 641831. Open Monday – Saturday 08.30 – 16.30. www.thefieldkitchen.co.uk
Life, address as above. Tel: 01491 642062. www.lifeatnettlebed.co.uk