Moseying down the high street, you might miss this delightful little café if you weren’t specifically looking for it. At the bottom of a small pathway leading from Silver Street, 9 Altars sits nestled between the centre of town and the riverside, in prime position to tempt pedestrians either embarking on, or returning from, a river stroll with their fabulous Full English Breakfast complete with tea or coffee. It is the perfect place for intimate coffee meet-ups, especially if you are lucky enough to be blessed with a rare dose of warm weather, in which instance you can sip your latte and nibble your scone on the terrace overlooking the river. Alternatively, if visiting in winter, the cosy upper floor dining area is the perfect place to warm up, perhaps with a sweet white hot chocolate, and a slice of their sumptuous red velvet cake.
Ciao Ciao is far from your average North Eastern café, don’t be fooled by its modest exterior, for what lies within this bakery-café is a beautifully authentic blend of Greek and Italian cuisine. Nibble on a sweet and sticky piece of traditional Greek baklava, and pretend that the lap of the River Wear is the Aegean Sea. Or, if you’re in a savoury mood, why not try the ‘Venice’ sandwich, made with prawns in a light pesto sauce on a choice of artisan bread, and imagine that Framwellgate Bridge has transformed into the Rialto Bridge. It’s the best way to sample a taste of the Mediterranean without breaking the bank, even by the standards of the price of lunch. And what’s more, enjoying your authentic Italian Espresso whilst bathed in the commanding splendour of Durham Cathedral doesn’t make a bad exchange for the azure horizon of the Med.
Situated in the historic centre of Durham, Treats Coffee Shop offers good, honest food and colossal cakes at good, honest prices. Their menu is somehow at once extensive and modest, offering a wide range of sandwich fillings served in either a wrap, baguette or panini, along with a selection of pies and hot dishes. It is guaranteed that you’ll leave Treats feeling as though you’ve certainly had (or perhaps more than had) your fill, for to use the word ‘generous’ to describe their portion sizes would be an understatement. To give you an idea, when you order a milk shake, it comes with a whole bowl of ice cream. The interior is bright and welcoming, and strewn with beautiful paintings of the stunning Durham Cathedral, Palace Green, and surrounding local landscape.
It is difficult to walk past the beautiful pastel blue exterior of Tealicious without being intrigued by the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party-esque window display, featuring an intricately decorated china set complete with elegant cake stands, framed by some quintessentially British bunting. The tearoom is fit to dazzle even the most experienced of tea connoisseurs, with seventeen stunning varieties of loose leaf tea. Try the Rooibos for a sweet and luxurious alternative to your average cup of breakfast brew. This gem is the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion in style, offering a gorgeous afternoon tea with dainty sandwiches, fruit scones, and a selection of homemade cakes and mini tarts, along with a choice of one of their blends of tea, or a cafetière of coffee. It is necessary to book an afternoon tea at least 48 hours in advance, however the tearoom is just as ideal for those spontaneous cravings for something tasty.
Although breaking the rules a tad with a location twelve miles outside of Durham, in the quaint town of Sedgefield, an exception simply must be made for this fantastic little café. Upon stepping trough the threshold of Number Four and being greeted by an extensive cabinet full of more varieties of baked delights than anyone could have thought imaginable, an emotion akin to that of a child walking into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory erupts. One is not only greeted by your run-of-the-mill deserts like the vanilla slice, strawberry tart, or scone, but a whole array of inventive cheesecakes and cream cakes lovingly made by the Swiss-trained chef. It is advisable to book a table for this extremely popular haven, however the dessert selection is so extensive that you might be glad of a short wait for a table, in order to give you time for the inevitable internal battle over which delicious confection you’d like to sample. Despite the popularity, the staff somehow manages to remain efficient as ever, and are as charming as the cute and quirky décor of the café’s interior.