IF you ever find yourself in need of a pitstop in Richmond, there is plenty of choice: several pubs offering food, a couple of large cafes with lunchtime menus, tearooms, bakeries, and butchers that provide hot sandwiches and pies.

So it is always interesting when a new venue opens up to cater to an already over-stretched market. Does it have what it takes to tempt regulars away from their usual haunts, or to attract the tourists?

A Sunday morning walk with the dog and toddler often brings us back into Richmond town, and this week we decided to treat ourselves with a proper, sit-down brunch rather than trying to sneak a bacon sandwich on the way home without Leo the toddler demanding to eat at least half of it.

My husband James and I had a look in at The Market Café, tucked away inside Richmond’s Victorian Market Hall at around 9am, but we were out of luck – it was an hour before opening time, and the hall doesn’t permit dogs.

Not to be deterred from trying out the café, which has only recently been taken over by new management in the form of Lisa and Shaun Lockey, we went home, dropped off the dog, wrestled the toddler into the car seat, and drove back.

We arrived right at opening time but there was already a lone man enjoying a breakfast. We took a table in the corner of the café, which is open and light thanks to the high, sky-lighted ceiling of the pretty Market Hall. The stalls were all open for business too, and although it was quiet, we agreed it would be a nice spot to people watch.

The café itself was clean and modern, and had some very tempting cheesecakes in the counter unit. Mr and Mrs Lockey also run the Donut Box, a converted horse trailer from which they sell freshly cooked donuts locally and at events around the region, and clearly they are experts in sweet treats.

I chose the full English breakfast and cup of tea; James a tuna melt toastie; and for Leo we got a toasted teacake.

Mrs Lockey was very friendly and chatted to Leo while we ordered. Shortly after we’d sat back down she brought Leo a biscuit on a saucer – a simple touch but we were grateful for the gesture which meant Leo was happy to sit on his dad’s knee and watch tractor videos until the food arrived.

Mrs Lockey was apologetic for the lack of highchairs, but she explained it was on her list of things to do since opening two months ago.

The food was served up quickly and we were impressed with the initial appearance – James’ tuna melt was oozing with cheese and came with a side salad; and my breakfast was large but not overwhelmingly so. It consisted of two rashers of bacon, two small sausages, one egg, black pudding, a hash brown, mushrooms, beans and toast.

Butter, or sometimes the lack thereof, can be a source of contention. Personally, I often find that a proper pat of butter takes so long to soften that your toast has gone cold by the time you can use it, so I was pleased the café served up a churned butter-style spread: it tasted buttery, but it was spreadable. Perfect.

Leo demolished his teacake so it was a thumbs up from him. James said his tuna melt was excellent, due to its generous filling and good mix of tuna and cheese. If looking to make a slight criticism, the salad could have done with some dressing as it consisted simply dry leaves. But he admitted he wasn’t that fussed about having salad anyway, so it was a minor note.

My breakfast was also very good. The fried egg runny; the black pudding tasty; the beans had been slow-cooked so the sauce was nice and thick; and the hash brown deliciously golden. It was a decent, strong cup of tea too.

When comparing to other breakfasts in the town, it fared very well. At £5.95 with cup of tea included I thought that was a fair price. It was simple, but very filling and perfect for after a long walk.

The service was efficient and friendly, with Mrs Lockey chatting to us about her new idea for cheesecake-filled Easter eggs, which looked calorific but amazing. She also offered Leo a lolly pop, which we refused because it was nearly naptime, but this is certainly a child-friendly café.

James and I agreed we would return for lunch another day to try one of the daily specials or a slice of cheesecake, which change regularly according to the couple’s Facebook page for the café.

It is perhaps a downside that dogs aren’t allowed in the Market Hall, as many other cafes in town do permit four-legged friends. However, that is a policy of the hall rather than the café.

The bill came to £12.45, which felt like a real bargain for the feed we had just enjoyed.


The Market Cafe, Richmond Market Hall, Market Place, DL10 4JJ

Tel: 07590 605668 Facebook: The Market Café Richmondshire

Open: Monday – Saturday 9am-3.30pm, Sunday 10am-3.30pm

Disabled access. Takeaway available.

Ratings (out of ten): Food quality 8, service 9, surroundings 8, value 10