REVIEW: Café Alf Resco in Dartmouth
PUBLISHED: 16:55 11 February 2019
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ANDY COOPER visits a Devon institution where the emphasis is on being that little bit different
In this day and age doing anything for 25 months seems to count as longevity. The ‘wham, bam’ cultural period we seem to live in – reality TV, social media, talent show ‘pop stars’ – seems to almost have sidelined long termism to the sidelines.
In the hospitality trade a similar pattern emerges. I am always wary of recommending a good spot to stay or dine if I haven’t been back for nine months or so in case the owner or chef has moved on.
To be in the hospitality trade for 25 YEARS no less then – and here in Devon – must show a rare and passionate approach to the job.
Which is why I salute Kate and Peter Ryder at the Café Alf Resco in Dartmouth. For this year they reach that amazing quarter of a century milestone in situ at this wonderful spot.
And how have I managed to clock up 22 years living in this county – with plenty of visits to Dartmouth along the way – and never visited this fabulous place? Having now done so I want to make it a weekly event!
‘Alf’s’ is rightly a Dartmouth institution. Its novel and all-embracing approach to hospitality means it stands apart from so much of its competition. Perhaps that why it has lasted so long and shows no sign of waning.
Community spirit, customer service and innovation all come pouring from Kate Ryder when she greets you, busy though she is in and around the café. The novel nature of the place is exemplified by the fact it is only open from 7am-2pm every day, meaning breakfast, brunch and lunch are the options.
But what options! This is no standard menu we are talking about – twists and turns and seasonal variations abound – and if you like marmalade then you will simply have to share Kate’s passion for the stuff. Pots are everywhere – on sale and as part of your brekkie.
Try tempters such as the salami and cheese toasty I enjoyed…you will see a difference from the standard café fare immediately. And then the surroundings – atmospheric, charming and busy – only add to the delights.
We were lucky enough to also stay at Alf’s in the amazing penthouse room at the top of the building, fitted out in dark wood with quirky, considered interiors and amazing views up and down the estuary.
There are other bedrooms for guests too and it makes an ideal central stop-off point for busy Dartmouth.
The place is a true delight and is top of our ‘must return’ soon list. And, ever helpful, Kate has helped me as I struggle to summarise the experience as her mantra for Alf’s is ‘Live, Love, Laugh’.
It’s possible to do all three – and more – under the comforting embrace of Café Alf Resco.