Things to note about me. I love coffee and independent coffee shops. I love fairy tales, the old school and the more modern variety. I love a bit of cottage core. Makes sense then, that when I found all of these things rolled together in a fair trade, vegetarian cafe in the London borough of Richmond, I promptly fell head over heels in love with it.
Even the name has a cottage core, fairy tale feel to it: The Hollyhock Cafe. Tucked away at the top of the Terrace Gardens in Richmond, you could miss it. It’s small and nestled into the trees and gardens as if it’s been there forever. To visit Richmond and miss this place would really be to miss out. It’s a little gem.
If the exterior captured my eye and my imagination – and it absolutely did, look at that terrace, the crooked beams, the way it nestles against the greenery. I was plotting a modern day, Richmond based fairy tale series and selling to to Netflix as we walked- the interior captured my heart.
The tiled floor, the wood burner, big old couches made for snuggling and mismatched wooden chairs. All so lovely. Homely. Comforting.
Can we also take a moment to appreciate the eclectic gallery wall, please? It’s a bit flippin’ brilliant. I’d love a wall like this in my home, but it doesn’t go down so well in military housing. Not when a housing officer is counting picture hooks as you leave. Likewise the wood burner. When I get my forever home though, Hollyhock cafe is some serious interiors inspiration.
It’s not all about looks though, is it? Ah fear not, that was just a bit of scene setting. This place has substance. The whole menu is fair trade, organic and/or locally sourced. Think rustic and hearty. Lots of cakes, quiche, a chick pea curry as a lunchtime option. You’d have to be a very fussy eater not to find something there that made you go, ‘ooh go on then’.
We turned up somewhere between breakfast and lunch so went for Portuguese custard tarts ( no judgement please, they were on the breakfast menu!), croissants and toast. Mr THL had seconds. He’s a beast, I’ve no idea where he puts it. Tea for him and a latte for me. The nicest latte I’ve had in a while and I’m fussy. It was all lovely, couldn’t fault the food or the service.
If you wanted to be a bit more virtuous, there’s plenty of healthy stuff on offer. Salads, juices, smoothies, lovely porridge. Obviously we dumped virtue in favour of treating ourselves. I say that like we ever actually deny ourselves. Life is too short, right?
There is limited seating inside the cafe, but the terrace is the place to be. If it’s a little chilly, worry not. The cafe will provide blankets and hot water bottles. No such thing as the wrong weather.
The hill top location means views for days, over the gardens and down to the River Thames. If you watch the tree tops you’ll spot ( and probably hear) the bright green Parakeets that have become a fixture of almost every London park. Locals seem immune to the sight of them but they make me smile.
If you’re lucky, you’ll have some out-doorsy company. This handsome little squirrel came to see what was on offer. He/she took a piece of buttered toast. Definitely not the grey squirrel’s natural diet, but the sort of thing a squirrel in a Beatrix Potter-esque tale might eat, so…
I’ve never given a lot of thought to what would make the perfect brunch. But I think sitting on the terrace of a fairy tale cafe , admiring a beautiful view down to the river, sharing toast with a squirrel and a table with my husband is near enough.
Find the Hollyhock Cafe at Terrace Gardens, Petersham Rd, TW10 6UX. Look for the glass house and then follow the path uphill. The cafe tucked into the trees on your right. Fairy tale day dreams and sharing with squirrels optional, but totally recommended.
If you likes this post, you might also enjoy The Secret Herb Garden, Edinburgh