Check out the Shelford Delicatessen
I’ve known about the Shelford Delicatessen in Great Shelford for some time now, but despite careering past on my way to various important meetings (*cough* with girlfriends) I haven’t stuck my nose in. A friend mentioned it again to me recently and it reminded me to slam the breaks on next time I was nearby – and I’m sooo glad I did.
Great Shelford is a large village a few miles south of Cambridge. With its own railway station heading into London, a couple of pubs, various shops, a hairdressers, library, a bank and other bits and bobs – you’ll get the vibe that it’s a busy place.
The deli is found on Woollards Lane in a 1930s converted house with a newish wooden frame extension tucked on the side. It’s right at the end of a line of shops before the road becomes more residential.
The space outside at the front is used to display a small selection of fruit and veg – as much as possible locally sourced and all looking very fresh. There are tables and benches at the front, but the road is busy so I wouldn’t linger here too long – push on through and bag a table inside, or head for the back garden if the sun’s out.
My first impression from the outside was more along the lines of a traditional greengrocers, but step inside and you’re in a light and airy extension with a high timbered roof and stone flagged floors – all very rustic looking with the odd industrial touch. I love the quirky designs that they’ve added – recycled dustbin lids as lampshades – not sure I’d choose them for my new kitchen (promised for the last 7 years and yet to be seen, sound familiar?) but they do look very effective in this setting.
As you enter the building, take a left into the older part where you’ll find floor to ceiling shelves displaying an enticing array of artisan bottles, jars, bags and loads of other deli-style treats.
As much as possible is homemade: pesto, tapenades, breads, cakes and ice cream – the list is exhaustive. Two fridges are also chock-full with frozen home cooked meals – supper sorted then.
There’s a whole section dedicated to my favourite subject – chocolate, gathered from various parts of the globe.
I resisted the drool-induced urge to pile my basket high, instead I genteelly opted for the white chocolate buttons with coconut and passion fruit which I greedily scoffed in seconds in the car home – before I could take a picture of them!
Is it wine o’clock? The deli have a whole corner dedicated to wines – provided by Noel Young Wines, just up the road in Trumpington, and handpicked to match the current menu and seasonal products on offer. Craft beers are also stocked from local producers in Fulborn and Harston nearby.
The atmosphere is busy and bustley – there’s a constant stream of people coming in to buy things from the deli, order food from the counter, have coffee in the café and, on a sunny day, relax outside.
The café is located towards the back of the vaulted building – it’s cottage style – wooden tables and painted chairs and the doors onto the garden let in loads of light. The walls are decorated with shelves displaying more artisan products and there’s a cosy slow roasting wood fired oven smoldering away which keeps you warm in the colder months – all properly fenced in so no risk of major burns.
It’s not huge and they don’t take reservations but even at busy times no-one seems to be waiting long to get a seat – table sharing is encouraged at peak times if you’re not using all the space. Orders and money are taken at the counter and food is delivered to your table by staff who all seemed well briefed on the menus and products on sale.
As I was still attempting my own form of detox (in other words, when I feel like it) I opted for the celeriac and nutmeg soup from the specials board – great value at £4.25 and deliciously healthy (er, a tinsy bit smug)…
and then promptly face planted into their chocolate mocha cake with hazelnuts – the story of my life!
There’s a kid’s menu with the obligatory pasta as well as pizza, sandwiches, soup, a range of cakes and cookies and small tubs of homemade ice-cream. It’s all very child friendly and there’s a great enclosed garden with a wooden playden for them to let off steam – there isn’t much space inside for when it’s chucking it down and buggies and prams would need to be left outside.
If you’re planning a trip to the deli you could add in Wandlebury Country Park, just a few miles east of Great Shelford, on the gentle Gog Magog Hills. It’s a great spot for walkers, nature lovers and for kids to run-a-muck – ideal for an outdoorsy family half term adventure. Stapleford Granary is only in the nextdoor village. Set in converted farm buildings it’s a study centre for the arts and music – offering courses, concerts, lectures, exhibitions and events. Take a peek at their programme of events as they have lots planned for spring and beyond.
This is going to be my new go-to-place. If you’re a fan of multi-tasking – grab a coffee and a bite to eat, get a few provisions and pick up tonight’s ready made supper with a bottle of wine, or two! If you’re still after more the Shelford Deli will also help you cater for outside events – whether it’s a party, picnic, business lunch or a sit-down dinner – it’s all under control.
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
Good for: friends looking for a place to meet for a coffee or light bite away from the hectic city. Lots of healthy bits if you’re trying to be careful but heaps of delicious goodies if the diet’s gone out of the window. Kid friendly, as long as it’s not pouring with rain.
Not for: Those who like certainty – it’s busy at lunchtimes and there are no reservations taken. The menu is light bites and a few more substantial dishes so if you’re after steak and kidney pudding to fill you up you might come out a little hungry.
££: Reasonably priced for homemade baked food. Breakfasts start from £3.95, cakes £2.15-3.65, open sandwiches and light bites £4.75-6.25 and the lunch menu £8.45-9.50.
The Shelford Deli is open Mon-Sat 8.30- 4.30pm
Shelford Delicatessen, 8a Woollards Lane, Great Shelford, Cambridge CB22 5LZ, shelforddeli.co.uk