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Review: Not a Yacht of homemade fare at this Preston Docks cafe

Posted on - 6th November, 2021 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Ashton-on-Ribble, Food & Drink, Opinion, Preston Docks, Preston News, Restaurants in Preston, Riversway, What's On in Preston
The Beach Hut scone
Oh yes.

The next venue to get a visit from Blog Preston as part of our series of reviews on dog-friendly establishments is The Beach Hut Coffee Shop at Preston Marina in Ashton-on-Ribble. I took my mother Yvonne, my elderly Chihuahua Archie and my new puppy Georgie to try it out. The website describes the menu as featuring ‘specialty coffees, home cooking and baking’ as well as being a licensed bar pizzeria from Thursday to Saturday. It also mentions the Doggy Diner, a special area of the coffee shop where dogs are welcome with a special doggy menu.

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We found it a little difficult to find a parking space as the car park that belongs to the coffee shop didn’t have any empty spaces except for those labelled as being for moorings only. We eventually parked on the road outside the area, but with an edge of apprehension due to the Docklands being under the terrifying shadow of the hated Parking Eye of Sauron.

Inside, the cafe was roomy and bright with a bank of windows overlooking the Marina. We were told to sit anywhere so we took a table near the window and had a look at the menus. They were dismayingly grubby, but after debating whether or not to stay we decided that based on the cleanliness of the rest of the cafe and the fact that there was a big bottle of hand sanitizer on a cleaning station near the counter, we could chalk it down to an oversight. The savoury food offered was the usual fillings in sandwiches and jacket potatoes and a couple of salads. Nothing that couldn’t be found in a 1970s cafe, although thankfully The Beach Hut didn’t smell of Quink Ink and squashed egg and cress sandwiches, which is the official theme stink of the 70s.

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I asked the friendly waiter which items were homemade and was told that the spicy pulled pork and the chilli were made from scratch. I opted for the spicy pork bun with coleslaw, crisps and a salad garnish at £7.75, and Yvonne ordered a chicken and feta salad at £8.95. They arrived quickly and were served with a smile. Yvonne’s salad looked appetising, with a decent amount of chicken on top, a wedge of lemon, a small roll and little pot of coleslaw. The vegetables were crisp with a lovely sharp dressing that complemented the feta, but the chicken was unpleasantly dry and woody with a slightly sweet taste which added nothing to the meal.

The Beach Hut chicken and feta salad
The chicken and feta salad

My bun had a good amount of filling, but I found the flavour overwhelmingly sweet with little spice to it. I could only manage a couple of bites so when the waiter asked if everything was ok with our meals I told her the problem. She offered to ask the chef to make something different, so I asked what else on the menu is homemade. That turned out to be just the chilli, of which they’d run out, so I asked for a club sandwich (£8.50) in its absence.

The Beach Hut club sandwich
Nobody likes it floppy

The sandwich was on the table in record time, along with a scattering of crisps. It contained lettuce, tomato, chicken, bacon and mayonnaise. The chicken was in the same dry, uniform slices as those in Yvonne’s salad, so I ended up picking them out. The bacon was fine, but the sliced white bread was pale and floppy, which led to the sandwich falling apart like it had just watched episode six of Squid Game.

As I was squabbling with my meal, a lady who I presume is the manager or owner asked me what the problem with my spicy pork sandwich was, and I told her that it was extremely sweet. She replied that she was surprised as it didn’t contain any sugar, which left us baffled. She disappeared and a few minutes later returned with a copy of the recipe, which showed honey as the culprit.

The Beach Hut pork sandwich
The crisps couldn’t believe the pork was pulled again

Unfortunately I love spice and dislike sweet sauces, so my relationship with that sandwich was doomed to fail. If it was on the menu as pulled pork with barbecue sauce instead of simply ‘spicy pork’ I would have steered clear. However I’m sure that anyone who enjoys pulled pork with barbecue sauce would be more than happy with the flavours and the generous amount of filling.

As we hadn’t had too much luck with our mains, we decided to see if the sweets were any better. A number of cakes were ‘bought in’, but I was told that Granny’s chocolate crunch, the scones and the flapjacks were homemade so I ordered a scone and a cherry flapjack. There were only date and walnut scones left, which I try to steer clear of as I don’t like vitamins cluttering up my desserts, but I resigned myself to it just this once. It was surprisingly wonderful; not at all dry or claggy like some scones or overly sweet, and they weren’t skinny on the cream. I’m now a convert to date and walnut scones, but only from the Beach Hut because they nailed it.

The flapjack was puzzling as although it had ‘freshly prepared by The Beach Hut’ on the plastic packaging, it came with a list of ingredients that I’ve never seen before in a homemade flapjack.

The Beach Hut flapjack ingredients
It’s complicated

Flapjacks should taste like their simple ingredients; oats, butter, syrup or honey and maybe fruit or spice, but this one had a Play-Doh smell and tasted oily rather than buttery. I don’t know why there were so many ingredients such as emulsifiers, preservatives and colours added to a homemade cake when they brought nothing to the quality and flavour of the dessert, but that’s not a problem as we’ll just order two (or ten) of their lovely scones next time.

Archie and Georgie were also out of luck as the doggy menu consisted of a slice of bacon or sausage which they aren’t allowed, or a scoop of special peanut butter ice cream. Sadly there was none of the ice cream left so the boys went home outraged.

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The Beach Hut has some good things going for it, such as the location, the friendly staff, the scones, their coffee and tea and the well spaced out tables. There was a nice buzz in the place and about half the tables were taken with people that the staff greeted like regulars, which is impressive for a Monday lunchtime and indicative that my glitchy visit was the exception rather than the norm.

The menu mentions that The Beach Hut holds a pizza night every Thursday, describing the pizzas as homemade and stone baked. If the pizzas are as good as they look on the menu and are added to a warm summer evening, a bottle of wine, friendly staff and outdoor tables looking out onto the Marina, customers have the makings of an exceptional night and I’d happily try The Beach Hut again for that.

The scarcity of real homemade food available during our visit wouldn’t entice us back for lunch. However, it’s a great spot to stop for a coffee and multiple scones and watch the seagulls riding on each other and the blue-green algae becoming terrifyingly self-aware.

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Have you eaten at The Beach Hut? What did you think? Let us know in the comments.

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