Darsham Nurseries Café, Darsham, Suffolk
Darsham Nurseries Café has gained an excellent reputation for its imaginative, tasty and largely home-grown food. Shopping for plants has never been so colourful and delicious.
Darsham Nurseries in Suffolk has one of Britain’s best garden cafés
I really love a great garden café. The combination of flowers, plants, fresh-out-of-the-soil home-grown produce and imaginative cooking, literally make my heart jump for joy.
As Suffolk’s answer to Petersham Nurseries Cafe in London, Darsham Nurseries has long been on my radar. Sitting in their café on a warm autumnal afternoon, as September ebbed to a close, was a particularly golden moment of my year.
It’s in these kind of places that I feel I’m in the company of kindred spirits. Warm, welcoming and delicious (just like their fig leaf wine).
The Story of Darsham Nurseries
Darsham Nurseries is the vision of one man. We have him to thank for the transformation of what was once an abandoned roadside nursery not far from the Suffolk seaside resort of Southwold.
Drive across the level crossing at Darsham station, blink and you may almost miss it. But that would be a great shame indeed.
After many years of hard work for American plantsman, David Keleel, his labour of love has paid off. He’s created a culinary and horticultural haven that is deserving of its growing reputation.
Source plants for your garden
Book a table for lunch in the café restaurant
Stroll Through the Kitchen Garden
Taking the ordinary and the unloved and turning it into a destination for foodies and gardeners alike, requires patience and a lot of nurturing. It also needs great teamwork.
Kitchen gardener, Niamh Mullally, is responsible for producing the fruit and veg that’s used in the café restaurant. Wander around the garden in the autumn and you’ll see an abundance of courgette flowers, beans, fennel and squashes.
Walk through the sweet pea tunnel in the kitchen garden
Sit outside in the summer
Sit Down to Lunch in Darsham Nurseries Café
The café’s seasonally-inspired dishes are influenced by a Mediterranean and Middle Eastern style of cooking, popularised by chefs such as Ottolenghi.
Regular favourites include courgette pilaf with lemon, sage and tahini, and Balkan peppers with Autumn goulash and ricotta.
With its clever use of mirrors and tall French doors leading to an outside seating area, the café is a light and airy dining space.
Bare white brick walls are offset with colourful floor tiles and cubist artwork. Small glass vases show off crimson dahlia flowers.
Such is their reputation, they regularly have to turn people away.
The restaurant has a colourful floor
September’s dahlia display in the restaurant
Take Time for Tea and Cake
Swing by for breakfast in the morning or pop in for tea and cake in the afternoon. The cakes are a thrill.
Sink your teeth into rich pistachio and lemon drizzle cake with an orange and pomegranate glaze and interesting combinations like chocolate and coffee.
Often incorporated into their baking, are some of the more unusual fruit wines they make by steeping botanicals, such as fig leaves, into vodka and sweetening with sugar.
Pistachio and lemon cake
Darsham’s fig leaf distilled wine
Browse in the Garden Shop
Take time to smell the roses in the garden. Shop for plants or sit on a bench overlooking the kitchen garden.
Browse the excellent gift shop with its wall of enticing Franchi seed packets, beautiful vases, artisan soaps and scented candles.
The cookbook section will tempt you with old and new favourites such as M.F.K. Fisher’s The Art of Eating, The River Café Cookbook and Diana Henry’s wonderful books including How to Eat a Peach (winner of The Sunday Times Food Book of the Year).
Browse the gardening gifts in the shop
Choose your Spring bulbs for next season
- Darsham Nurseries now serves dinner on Friday and Saturday evenings. (They offer a Prix Fixe menu on Friday evenings)
- Walk off lunch by visiting nearby Southwold and going for a bracing walk along the sandy beach to admire the colourful beach huts
- Have a foodie day out by combining a visit with the Adnams Brewery tour in Southwold or their Copper House Gin Distillery Tour
- Visit Walberswick and have a drink at the Anchor pub
Inspired by Darsham Nurseries? Shop This Story
Where to Stay in Darsham
If you’re looking for accommodation in Darsham, one of the best places to stay is at Darsham Old Hall. This 13th century property is set in 60 acres of grounds and is now a luxury B&B offering four rooms.
Comfort and joy comes in the form of alpaca duvets, Egyptian cotton sheets and either double-sized showers or a huge copper bath.
The historic house is a peaceful place to retreat and re-energise in between exploring the Suffolk coastline. It’s convenient, too. Southwold, Aldeburgh, Walberswick and Dunwich are all within easy reach.
Ready to Start Planning a Weekend Break in Suffolk? See All: Best Places to Stay in Suffolk
Please check with Darsham Nurseries directly.
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The Foodie Travel Guide
Sally is the founder and editor of The Foodie Travel Guide. She travels around the UK and beyond in search of the best foodie days out, tasting experiences and delicious places to stay. She loves a glass of English sparkling wine, afternoon tea with friends and escaping London for gastronomic adventures.