Eating Out: Cafe’s high up the list

Mawell's Cafe and Delicatessen, Penny Street, Lancaster.
Mawell's Cafe and Delicatessen, Penny Street, Lancaster.

A day out in Lancaster a couple of Sundays ago led us to Maxwells in Penny Street for a Mother’s Day treat.

Recently sitting at the top of the pile on review website Trip Advisor, Maxwells is now at a very commendable number six out of 120 in Lancaster.

We’d heard good things about the former Penny’s Cafe, which was refurbished and re-opened in August 2011, by owner Paul Wilcock, as Maxwells Cafe and Delicatessen.

Although quite a small space, the cafe is well laid out, with a mixture of high round tables and stools and traditional cafe style tables.

There is bar seating in the window at the front, where you can watch the world, or at least the Sunday afternoon shoppers, go by, and more tables in the raised area at the back of the cafe.

There is also a small yet perfectly formed covered outside eating area just off the back corridor leading to the toilets.

Along one side is a deli counter with a large selection of salads, meat, bread and cakes, and a well put together menu on the wall above.

There was another family eating at Maxwells when we arrived with our two very hungry and slightly unhinged children, who decided to up the decibel levels when we got inside.

In these situations, we often sacrifice a bit of time spent looking at the menu for the ease of getting something, anything, now.

But after growling at them and promising no afters whatsoever if this behaviour continued, we managed to placate them long enough to do some skim reading.

For a cafe, the menu is pretty snazzy, offering plenty of interesting food combinations in the form of toasted and open sandwiches and light bites. There is a distinct Mediterranean feel about the menu.

Options include slow roasted pepper medley, mozzarella cheese and pesto; home roasted sliced ham, slices of French brie with sweet sundried tomatoes; slices of pastrami with chorizo, feta and red onion marmalade and grilled black pudding, sweet apple puree and applewood smoked cheddar cheese.

Certainly enough to get the taste buds working on overtime. All this was priced at between £5 and £6 per sandwich.

We put some of these options to Will and Zoe, but, being kids, all they wanted was good old fashioned cheese on toast, so we ordered that, and decided on a sharing platter for two for ourselves, priced at £10.75, which included a selection of deli salads, home roasted and cured meats, cheeses and home baked bread.

The switched-on waitress recognised that the kids wanted an immediate food fix, and asked if we wanted the cheese on toast straight away.

Less than five minutes later there appeared two plates full of melted cheese on thick white toast, which they launched into happily.

Naturally I had a mouthful myself and as far as cheese on toast goes, this was very good.

Not long after our sharing platter arrived, which was very impressive.

It came as a large platter filled with individual pots of various deli salads including home made coleslaw, olives with feta cheese, cold sweet potato, a pasta salad and a large green salad with a lovely light dressing.

Also on the plate were helpings of peppered steak, ham, pastrami and chorizo, and hefty chunks of cheese of three or four different types.

There were also large slices of bread with butter. With all four of us now eating there was a brief silence, probably the only one all Mother’s Day, but a welcome one nonetheless.

The sharing platter we felt was an excellent choice, and very tasty all round. It was nice to eat a lunch like this after a long winter of heavier foods.

We weren’t “full” but we were completely satisfied, and there was certainly room for cake.

I ordered a flapjack, a chocolate brownie, and two other small square pieces of cake whose content now escapes me, although we could tell a lot of care had gone into their creation.

Our bill came to a very reasonable £23.65 which included the cheese on toast, sharing platter, two lattes, four slices of cake and a takeaway salad box for Monday lunch.

This was a great lunch out, surprising in its quality.

My only complaint was that the cake portions could have been a bit bigger, but the most important thing was that Liz enjoyed her Mother’s Day treat, and she did.