Hi Everyone – I am super excited to share my experience of Jack Fenn with you guys! You all know how much I love local/independent businesses and try to promote them as much as possible on Where Is My Teaspoon. Jack Fenn is the latest discovery and I’m really hoping you’ll join me in supporting it by stopping by if you’re ever in the area. It’s new (since Autumn 2017), different to other cafes within the local area and has a great feel to it.
This cafe itself was actually the old Stables at Belleek Castle so think stone walls and cosy corners. If you have never been to Belleek Castle, I would definitely recommend it for dinner at least. It is actually a member of Ireland’s Blue Book now too which will give you an idea about the standards there. I have been to dinner at the Castle before and found it very memorable – and slightly dramatic at times 🙂 I won’t spoil it for you – go visit!
Jack Fenn has been finished to a very high standard – the wooden surfaces, copper lights and themed props all adding to the atmosphere. It feels expensive and is nice to sit in – big enough to escape the sound of the kitchen and grinding coffee, but small enough to see everything going on.
I visited last November after it first opened and was surprised to see it was packed midweek at lunch-time. Good sign! The feel of this cafe is really nice. There is a surprising amount of natural light shining through and the use of rich colours (navy and burnt orange) make it cosy. There’s still a good amount of seating too, not at all cramped. They have a small shop selling local honey and jams branded Belleek Castle and a beautiful display of cakes visible up by the cash register.
On our visit, we had teas, coffees, scones, cake and some french toast. All went down really well. As always, I appreciated the teacup and saucer and the use of loose tea leaves especially. The only slight thing to note is that the scones include almond extract which is quite a strong flavour and may not be to everyone’s taste. I did ask and our waitress said they didn’t have any other to offer us on that day – they may have next time.
The bake of the scone was very good though and I liked the difference in shape (hope you can see in the photo below). The scones seemed to have been baked within a muffin tray rather than on a baking sheet. I have seen this done in smaller cafes before and think it’s a cute, effective way of making scones different, without breaking the bank. I actually might try doing this myself next time I have people over for tea. They look neat and I would imagine it means no one gets a massive one. Who knew portion control could be so attractive to the eye?
On the few times I have visited Jack Fenn since, they always seem to have a Coffee Cake on the stand. It reminds me of a Delia Smith coffee cake recipe (try Delia’s Cakes) in that the icing is not the typical sweet butter cream but rather a silky icing – maybe mascarpone and topped with pistachios? Whatever it was, it tasted good and was a welcome change from butter cream! Jack Fenn serve the slice of cake with a scoop of ice-cream but I’m not sure they really need to. The cake was good without it. Next time I’m in that neck of the woods (local joke) I’m going to try something on the savoury side but it’s worth a visit for tea and cake alone.
I’m glad to see a cafe like this in Ballina. I will definitely do my part in supporting it any way I can. It delivers on setting, coffee, sweets and atmosphere and I hope to see it build up a strong reputation.
It’s funny, but us customers sometimes forget we have the power to choose where to shop or eat. By taking a slightly longer stroll or buying a pot of local jam from a cafe, we can help keep that business in the area; supporting jobs and keeping local communities alive. I haven’t made many New Years Resolutions for 2018, but will do my best to support local, independent businesses wherever possible throughout this year. I hope you all will join me in doing so, even if it takes you slightly off your usual beaten track.