Hungry visitors to Ryde will not want for places to eat. In Union Street alone there is a world of choice including Indian, Malaysian, Turkish, Moroccan, Mexican, and American cuisine. And, if you are of the type that loves a good English fry-up, there is the continental-sounding La Croute.
Don’t be misled by its appearance francais; the quaint tiled lettering of its sign and the image of a happy French chef smacking his lips, this is a traditional English cafe. And very cheap, oh so cheap.
Not put off by the smell of grease and cigarettes, Cat decided to go native and ‘method’ herself into transport cafe mode. The wide range of fried food was much more suited to Matt’s less sophisticated palette (!) but there was plenty for Cat to try. The menu proclaims traditional favourites such as sandwiches, toasted sandwiches and baked potato with a variety of fillings but, judging by the deliveries from the kitchen to the tables, all patrons were there for breakfast.
The breakfast menu is simplicity itself. A list of foods is displayed – toast, bacon, sausage, mushrooms, eggs, etc – and, for £1.50 you can choose five items or, for slightly more money, one can have more items (you can extrapolate the pattern). Initially, Cat was going to just have scrambled egg on toast but soon realised that having five items from the breakfast menu represented much better value for money. So she chose scrambled egg, toast, beans, bacon and mushrooms to be washed down with a cup of tea.
Cat sat in a window seat which gave a pavement-side view of the goings on in Union Street (including the enthusiastic activities of the traffic wardens – now rebranded as community police officers). Although the cafe is not a smoke-free establishment, there is a tea garden out the back for those that prefer the fresh air, although its views are less dynamic.
The tea was delivered with a jug of milk and the mug was on a saucer – interesting touch. It wasn’t a particularly nice cup of tea but it served its function of lubricating the meal. Cat’s fellow patrons were muttering about the wait for their food but she was quite happy to sip her tea and gawp out of the window for the 25 minutes or so she had to wait. She also had time to glance around the cafe’s rather shabby interior; it’s floor was scratched by the scraping of chairs, the tables (although entirely functional) were tired and the lighting was very intimate (ie it is quite gloomy).
When the breakfast arrived Cat saw that she had got her £1.50’s worth and no more. But despite its size, the food was lovely and hot, the bacon not at all fatty and the toast was generously buttered. Alas, it was gone all too soon.
La Croute is a very popular place; Cat’s position by the door enabled her to carry out an audit of the many visitors which included pensioners, a young family and some motorcyclists. It’s a cheap and cheerful place although slightly mis-named. Is La Croute French for greasy spoon?