on December 2, 2012
I had been to the Mariner’s Cafe in Bosham, West Sussex, about two years ago for coffee and cake and was enthusiastic about going again. It’s right at the end of the High Street by the water’s edge, and some of the tables have a view across the harbour. The first time I went it was so crowded that we didn’t manage to get a table with a view, but on our second visit we arrived at about 1pm on a Saturday and were surprised to find that the place was almost empty. We found a large round table from which we could see the swans and ducks enjoying the water. There are always cups and saucers sitting waiting on the tables, but for some reason they aren’t actually used.There was a laminated menu already on the table, and a small board hanging up gave details of the day’s specials. These were homemade quiche of the day, coronation chicken either as a filling for a jacket potato or with a salad, and for dessert there was fruit strudel with cream or custard. Having had cake on our previous visit, although it had been excellent, we decided to try something savoury this time. Jacket potatoes with salad are mostly priced £5.50, and my son’s partner decided to have one with chilli. My son and I both went for the coronation chicken jacket. I had been tempted by the stilton and vegetable crumble (£6.75), and there was also a good choice of sandwiches on either white or wholemeal bread and several salads. My son asked for a pot of mint tea, his partner ordered a large cappuccino and I decided on a small Americano with which there was a choice of hot or cold milk. The waitress had come very promptly to take our order but she didn’t mind at all that we needed a bit more time to look at the menu. This wasn’t just because they were quiet, as people had begun trooping in soon after we arrived.Our hot drinks were soon served, along with cutlery wrapped in paper serviettes. The cappuccino had a good dusting of chocolate. We agreed that the coffee was particularly good, and we are not the most easily pleased when it comes to coffee. Not long after that came the jacket potatoes. The accompanying salad consisted of lettuce, rocket, grated carrot, a slice of tomato and a slice of cucumber, in other words a good variety if not a huge amount. There was also a wrapped serving of butter for the jacket, although it was a little difficult to find the way to the potato underneath the generous fillings. I liked the fact that the coronation chicken contained thin slices of chicken rather than the usual chunks. The chilli was also apparently very good, and the potatoes were well cooked but not overly so. In other words, we all enjoyed our lunch.The strudel sounded very tempting and we knew how good the cakes were, but we had all eaten well and resisted the temptation to have a dessert. My son went to the counter to pay the bill by card but had to come back to us as payment has to be made by either cash or cheque. Fortunately we did have enough cash between us. There was a note on the menu to say that a discretionary 10% service charge would be added to bills over £25, but I don’t think ours came to quite that much. We did leave a tip, however, as the owner and waitresses were very welcoming, efficient and polite.There is just one ladies’ and one gents’ toilet with a single outer door and a shared washbasin. The ladies’ toilet itself was fine, but the grouting round the washbasin was very discoloured. As well as a hand drier there was a towel which seemed clean enough.There is also a cafe in the craft centre nearby, but it doesn’t have the delightful view that the Mariner’s Cafe has. Having tried both lunch and cake at the Mariner’s, I can certainly recommend visiting, and the coffee alone is worth returning for. I’m not sure what the opening hours are, but if you are in the area this is a place worth visiting. Bosham is not far west of Chichester, but if you are travelling by rail it is roughly a mile south of Bosham railway station. If the tide is not too high you can go for a walk along the shore, and there is a Saxon church whose distinctive spire can be seen as you drive along the main road. Whether you’re feeling like some lunch, a sandwich, homemade cake or just a hot drink, the Mariner’s Coffee Shop is a delightful place.There is a pay-and-display car park about two minutes’ walk away on the other side of the road.
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