A few months back I spotted on social media that a new sit-in cafe was opening within about five minutes walk from my office. Now I don’t work too far away from Inverness city centre, but it’s a good 10-15 minute walk to get to some of the cafes and that obviously takes a good chunk out of a lunch hour, and most of the lunch options on the west of the river Ness are takeaway only, so I was interested to see how it would shape up.
My Let’s Bake buddy Kirsty and I took a trip there not too long after it opened, and although we had a good lunch I forgot to take any pictures! That time we also didn’t indulge in any of their sweet offerings, but they had been noted in the back of my mind! Last week, a day off for Mr B and I didn’t go quite as planned as an appointment had been forgotten about, so our trip out of Inverness was unfortunately called off. However, we did find time to get a late lunch for Mr B (and some cake for me, as I had been able to have some soup while Mr B attended his appointment) so it was an ideal time for us to revisit Cafe Ness!
It’s not the biggest cafe, with seating for 10 people at an assortment of nice dining and coffee tables, but it feels very spacious with light walls, and art and a small selection of gifts displayed for purchase, and jazz music can be heard which does make for a very relaxed atmosphere. For those waiting for a take away, there’s a nice window seat where you have a full view of all the cupcakes and cheesecakes while you wait for your food!
On each table there’s a menu, which at the moment is just printed out in black and white on paper. Maybe they are waiting for printed menus to arrive but paper menus didn’t really fit with the tasteful decor of the place (I also think that grubby fingers handling them or the occasional drop on the floor can make them look tatty quite quickly – maybe that’s just a personal bug bear of mine).
I was also a little confused by the pricing of some items. For example, on the breakfast menu, a bowl of porridge and two toppings would cost £4, but you could get a bagel with salmon and cream cheese for £4.20 which in my mind is way better value than the porridge. The price of an Americano for Mr B was also quite expensive at £2.70 a cup. Maybe they’ve got an amazing coffee machine or source excellent coffee – I can’t comment on that as I’m not a coffee drinker, but the price seemed a little high to me for a single cup of coffee. The slices of cheesecake however were priced lower than I’d expect them to be – just £2.80 for a whopping great slice. Mr B and I both agreed that we would be content paying 50p more for the cheesecake and £2.20 for a cup of coffee. I don’t want to seen as being harsh on a new business but these are just my opinions (and hopefully taken as constructive!) on a couple of points, I’m sure being a new business, they will be learning from customer feedback about what works and what doesn’t. I certainly don’t know what it’s like to run a business so I fully accept there will be things I don’t know about how you go about pricing food and printing menus, so these are just suggestions from a customers point of view.
Anyway, onto the food! I had already had a bit of lunch, so I was happy trying a piece of cake. As well as a tower of cupcakes, there was a white and milk chocolate cheesecake, smarties cheesecake and a pina colada cheesecake. After umming and aahing for a couple of minutes, I decided to go for the carrot cake instead – it’s probably one of my favourite cakes to eat. I made a very good choice!
I can’t remember having such a good slice of carrot cake in ages! It was so light with a nice spiced flavour and the ratio of cream cheese frosting was just right. It was also a huge huge slice (priced at £3 which I think is about right).
Meanwhile, Mr B was tucking into his lunch – a BBQ pulled pork and cheese bagel which came with a generous handful of tortillas and coleslaw. Another bugbear of mine is when cafes serve up bought in coleslaw from supermarkets, thankfully this wasn’t the case as there were huge slices of red cabbage and it makes a nice change to have a colourful chunky slaw!
There were certainly no complaints from Mr B – and I didn’t even get an offer to try the bagel, so I think it’s safe to assume that it was very very good!
Mr B then even had room to try a slice of cheesecake and he opted for the Smarties cheesecake. I did get to try this and it was so creamy. I do prefer baked cheesecakes to set ones, but this was really tasty and it had a very substantial digestive base! The crushed smarties also provided a nice change in texture.
We were really happy with our visit – (despite the small points I mentioned above on pricing and menus – these wouldn’t put us off going again at all) we paid £15 for a lunch dish, two slices of cake/cheesecake, a coffee and a soft drink.
I’m sad though because I’m moving to another office in the new year across town, so Cafe Ness definitely won’t be visited on my working days – but hopefully Mr B and I will pay Cafe Ness more visits in the new year as we really liked the atmosphere and the quality of the food.
This is not a sponsored post – I like to review local independent places and promote businesses in the Highlands when I’ve had a good experience!