Thursday, November 23, 2017

Caffe Sala, Colchester: Vegan friendly and family friendly

On our recent holiday, we ate lunch out on most days. This tended to be at chain or casual places that don't require reviewing, but I wanted to mention Caffe Sala in Colchester. This is a cosy, charming cafe with vegan and non-vegan menu options, an amazing array of vegan cakes, and a delightfully thought out family set up.

Upstairs toys at Caffe Sala

Mini Bite is pretty good at eating out, but understandably wants to roam rather than sit in a highchair before food arrives. She is also, at present, very interested in stairs. She wants to walk up them, then down them, then up them, then down them, and so on seemingly forever. As she isn't yet capable of going up and down stairs on her own, this means we go up and down them a lot too. It can be tiring!

Caffe Sala helpfully addresses these issues by providing a buggy/pram park area in the downstairs of their cafe, and then placing a stair gate upstairs along with a selection of toys. Perfect!

The stair gate

The upstairs of the cafe has three small rooms - one, for those without children, on the 'wrong' wide of the stair gate for safety, and then two on the 'right' side. The rooms are nicely decorated with painted walls and assorted seating options. I didn't take photos of the downstairs, but that room is appealing too, although it was very busy on our mid-week visit.

In terms of food, the vegan cake selection really is phenomonal. Most of the (many) cakes on offer were vegan and most were tiered, layered creations that looked like works of art. I took home a slice of the lemon and Earl Gray cake and this gives a sense of scale of the items on offer.

I didn't end up eating the cake until the next day, and so it was a little dry, but this probably reflects the car journey plus time in the fridge in a paper bag. It was still enjoyable and the flavours were pleasingly subtle, with just the right amount of icing to lend sweetness without it being cloying or sickly.

As for main meals, my ordering was slightly complicated by my leaving Mini Bite's prepared lunch in our holiday cottage. I had opted to pack her up some pasta salad because she isn't a big fan of sandwiches, wraps or similar, and I knew this cafe would mostly offer those choices. In the end the pasta salad was left behind and so I tried to order something we could share, knowing she would be unlikely to finish a whole portion.

If we had arrived a little later I would have ordered Mini Bite a jacket potato as she does love these, but they aren't available until after 12.30pm, and we arrived right on 12pm. Instead, I chose a vegan pesto, sun dried tomato and olive panini, a counterpart to the tuna melt panini that Mr Bite selected. It was good, although if I was ordering for my tastes alone, I would probably have chosen a wrap or the chilli sweet potato soup instead.

Partially deconstructed vegan pesto, sun dried tomato and olive panini

Most of the vegan lunch options are variations on a theme, in that there are a few sandwich fillings (salad or similar with vegan pesto, a vegan cream cheese, or hummus) that can come in sandwich, wrap, bagel or panini form. In summer they also offer salads, and there are the jacket potatoes and some soup options too. There are various non-vegan filling options too and Mr Bite was positive about his tuna panini.

To complement my food I had a flat white with almond milk, which was done very well, with the coffee on a par with Australian standards. There are lots of teas to choose from too, and there was a seasonal pumpkin spice latte on offer when we visited.

All in all, if you are in Colchester, I recommend you check out Caffe Sala - and leave room for cake.

Caffe Sala is at 5 Eld Lane, Colchester, Essex

Have you eaten anywhere good lately?


  1. I love the wrong side and right side of the stair gate - more cafes should consider this as it means that those who want to avoid the kids can. I guess we have less upstairs at cafes in Australia but I still love it. Glad you got around leaving her lunch at home and that slice of cake looks very impressive.

    1. I agree - both the wrong and right sides of the gate are important! Even downstairs cafes could benefit :-)

  2. The cake really does look good. It's nice to see that the cafe has really put some thought into its child-friendliness too.

  3. It's always great to find little cafes that cater to vegans and families! The cake looks delicious!

  4. Sounds like a neat place! Wish I was able to visit it, too!

    1. Hopefully you have some local places to make up for it :-)

  5. We go to Essex so see my mother in law near Southend, but when my father in law was alive we travelled a little more extensively across Essex having visited places Basildon, Pitsea, Southend, Leigh on Sea, Billericay, Brentwood, East Tilbury, Maldon and Colchester, but we haven't been to many of these places since his passing. So I am thankful to the memories he gave us on those trips. I did like Colchester when we visited. That cake does look pretty good and its good to see indie places making more offerings for vegans and veggies alike.

    1. You have traveled widely in the county - most of those places I've never visited. I'm glad you have the memories from visiting him and it's nice you can link his memory to the travels.


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