Stratford exactly isn’t short of cafes. Turn every corner in the historic town and you’ll find one. There are the traditional ones serving tea and cake, the big chains, themed offerings and even a cat cafe. So when I Will’s Kitchen was opening on Henley Street, right opposite Shakespeare’s Birthplace, I wasn’t quite sure what it could bring to the table that isn’t already there and ready to be eaten.
Inside it definitely falls into the ‘modern’ category, with a bright, light interior and art provided by TV screens on the walls rather than old-fashioned canvas. The staff are friendly and helpful, and it was doing a fairly good trade when I popped in for a quick bite before a meeting.
The menu has everything from breakfast to lunch, but Will’s Kitchen is definitely trying to do somethign a little bit different from the toasted teacakes and afternoon teas that many of its rivals offer. There seems to be a focus on lighter, healthier food – perfect for someone like me who veers from indulgence to deprivation when it comes to food (don’t worry, I’m working on that…)
Breakfast is everything from homemade granola to toasted banana bread, milennial-friendly avocado on toast and baked eggs. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of temptation there too – from brioche french toast to toasted crumpets – including one with marmite and parsley butter which certainly gets a tick from me and made me wish I had arrived early enough to order it.
Instead I was there for lunch – simply divided into small plates, large plates, sandwiches and ‘wellbeing salad’ plus some specials of the day. It’s here that the differences emerge. Small plates include everything from cauliflower cheese arancini to tart of the day with salad, while larger choices include braised lamb meatballs, sweet potato Keralan curry and a chuck burger.
The wellbeing salads are something akin to what a much-loved vegetarian place in Rugby used to serve and something that is all the rage in bigger cities but perhaps not so much in places like Stratford. You can choose three for £9 or all four for £11, which isn’t half bad when it comes to value and they certainly get my attention.
From the chilli roasted squash with courgette, feta, and citrus mayo, to Will’s own Caesar salad. There’s also the ‘allotment’ version packed with beets, kale, fennel and parsley and a toasted grain salad of bulgur wheat, heirloom tomatoes, soft herbs, chickpeas and toasted grains.
I’d have opted for one but I was on a flying visit so went for the quickest option – soup of the day. A homemade parsnip and pear soup that was not only warming but tasty too.
I could have done with a tad more seasoning but with the target market such as it is in Stratford, I’m aware that a chef might want to err on the side of caution when it comes to things like salt and pepper, instead allowing people to add their own. It was tasty, came served with fresh bread and was just a hint of what I think seems to be a good place doing something a little bit different from many of the cafes we get around here.
Of course, one bowl of soup does not a thorough review make, but it was enough to make me want to let you know about Will’s Kitchen and to make sure I go back to try some more of their creations.
[I paid in full at Will’s Kitchen. They didn’t know I was a blogger]