Best cafe/teashop 2015: Glebe Gardens and Café

A Baltimore spot family set up with open gardens, live music and great tea

Glebe Gardens and Café is a Baltimore spot set up by Pete and Jean Perry, a couple who ran a market garden and farm shop in Gloucestershire, and who, while on a sunshine-filled family holiday in the 1980s, fell in love with Baltimore.

They were cautioned about the weather but, completely smitten, put their farm on the market and started house hunting. They fell for the Glebe, a rectory on five acres of coastal grounds overlooking Church Strand, Baltimore in 1989.

Instead of hanging up their hoes, they opened the gardens to the public and started serving teas, first in the house and then in a refurbished cow shed.

Three of their daughters run the business. Tessa and Kez do the cooking, while Jo-Jo runs front-of-house. "Rather than it just being a sales pitch, they really do grown their own vegetables," says judge Simon Pratt.

“You might even see one of the family watering their special heritage tomatoes in the polytunnel as you wait for your salad of just-picked greens served with a slice of crab tart.”

Reader Myrtle Collins agrees it's worth a detour for "the best chocolate cake in the world" .

Events, mainly gigs and plays, take place in the amphitheatre, an artificial hollow created when the family filled in a railway cutting on the old Baltimore to Cork line that used to transport fish to market. On a dry summer’s evening you can sit on a picnic blanket and listen to bands. If it rains, the action moves to the courtyard, where sails act as awnings.

You can buy old-fashioned flowers, fresh produce, or wander the gardens where chickens have free-rein and there are goats bleating. “It is the end of the line, but what they’re doing is special and worth a detour,” says Pratt.

It is available for private hire for weddings and parties, open weekends only in low season, and closes completely in January and February.

Glebe Gardens & Café, Baltimore, Co Cork, tel: 028-20579, glebegardens.com

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