As a child, I must have driven through Malton a hundred times, but we never stopped for coffee or tea. I don’t know what it was like in those days, but with Malton promoting itself as North Yorkshire’s Food Capital, standards have really crept up and this was one of the highlights of our Fancy a Cuppa? North Yorkshire tour.
Coffee was our first aim, as usual. And the word around town was that a little place called Leoni’s – in Wheelgate – might be the best spot.
I loved this place. Intimate, olde worlde in its décor, friendly in its customer service and nicest of all: one of the best coffees I’d tasted in North Yorkshire.
These guys really know what they’re doing and although we didn’t get to meet Simon, the owner, he has trained his staff well and it’s not surprising when you learn that he was UK Barista Champion some years ago.
And that’s something else I liked about this place. Simon has retired from all the glitz, glam and headlines of national barista championships these days. He’s just created his own bit of coffee heaven in this market town of North Yorkshire, and the locals clearly love the place – isn’t that, ultimately, what running a good coffee shop is all about?
Hats off to him. And, as we ordered second coffees, we also began to look at house prices in the area…This would be a great local coffee shop if we lived nearby!
I mentioned earlier how our family would drive through Malton on our way from East Yorkshire to Teesside. Funnily enough, Malton has been the kind of place you pass through ever since Roman times.
This was a major fort on the Roman route from York to Filey (yes, really, Filey!) and there’s still a large area of parkland on the outskirts of town where you can walk all around the grassy perimeter of what was once a pretty massive fort. Now, if I’d known THAT when I was a kid, I’d have insisted we stop here for coffee in the 1960s too…
Back in town we went in search of tea, and found the perfect place for afternoon tea, with quality loose leaf, at The Hidden Monkey Tea Rooms in Malton’s Market Place.
Now, what I don’t get about many tea rooms in Yorkshire, especially when they serve tea from Taylors of Harrogate, is why they don’t always offer loose-leaf tea. It tastes so much better, and you can always charge a little bit more – for the quality and for the extra fiddly washing up later; it should at least be an option wherever Taylors is on offer, in my view.
Well in the Hidden Monkey, that’s exactly what they do do. You can opt for the Yorkshire Tea bag if you want, but we went for a pot of Assam and very good it was, too.
They do great home-baked cakes too – Victoria Sponge light and moist at the same time; it was gone in seconds!
And to cap it all, there’s a nice little story here, too. I shan’t spoil it for you but it links up to the Royal Family, the Royal Yacht, and a game the family plays, involving a cuddly toy monkey…You’d better go there to find out more…But that’s how the tea room got its name!
There’s actually so many facets to Malton, apart from its foodie and drinkie attributes.
They reckon the horse racing industry may have started with the vestiges of the Roman cavalry left behind nearly 2000 years ago. It’s certainly a booming business in the town today.
There’s a great livestock market, too, with a fair few hundred head of sheep up for grabs on the day of our visit.
And, with an eye to a potential future Fancy a Cuppa? tour, Malton also has a beautiful old independent cinema. The Palace Cinema has lots of old fittings and shows a wonderful range of mainstream and independent films. It’s also run by a really nice couple, so we’d be regulars if we lived just a tad closer.
Coffee, tea, cake, cinema, market, Romans, racing – what more could you ask for in a town? So, where ARE those estate agent notes??