Highcliffe isn't exactly renowned for chic cafe style, yet no one told the owners of The Paddle, and it's all the better for it. In a high street dotted with hum drum olde worlde tea rooms, something slightly different was required. And from many perspectives, this is it. Granted, it's a small, intimate affair, but what it lacks in size, more than makes up for in atmosphere, friendliness and choice.
Open Wednesday to Sunday daytime and Thursday to Saturday evening, it's a great place for coffee, homemade cakes or lunch with an imaginative and varied menu. We visited on a Friday evening, when booking is essential, as this little spot already has a good following. Great service from the outset, knowledgeable staff and exceptional, yet reasonably priced food are all on offer.
With a wood fired oven, their thin crust pizza are something of a speciality, notably 'The Billy', with goats cheese, red onion marmalade and spinach, while 'The Superman' with pulled pork and chorizo also tempted the taste buds. We started with a sharing paddle platter, which, given the selection provided, was great value at £12, along with bread and oils for £4, providing the three of us with a suitable appetiser. Mains were two pizzas (Italiana and Billy, both under £10) and Cajun spiced Salmon fillet, with avocado salsa, at £12. All complimented nicely by a bottle of light Italian red at £16. Desserts are more limited, but the Malteaser cheesecake at a slightly pricey £5.75 was delicious all the same. But that was only a small negative to an otherwise outstanding evening.
As mentioned before, booking is definitely a good idea. Were it not for the rain, the outside terrace would have been full, but should eating out not appeal, all pizza is available for take away.
All in all, a great place to relax and enjoy great food, good wine and engaging service. Most definitely a new favourite!
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