24 February 2014

February Newsletter: The Montage

A new arrival at 33 Dartmouth Road, The Montage is true to its name - a hotchpotch of cafe, antiques shop and art gallery.

Heading for tea and cake one Sunday afternoon, we were greeted with a room full of enticing shelves and tables stacked with eye-catching things to see. These ranged from old Ordnance Survey maps rolled up into two umbrella stands, to some bookends constructed from vintage Kellogg's cornflake packets, and a old-fashioned blue enamel pan stand that with some love would look quite happy again. Another wall held a beautifully arranged display cabinet with second-hand hardback books and small dolls in national costume - odd but somehow entirely at home in their setting.

Once I'd been persuaded to stop looking at all these intriguing things, it was time to eat - although there were more goodies to discover, through the rooms and down the stairs - leather armchairs, formica tables, stools, wooden furniture all ready for upcycling, so we made quite slow progress to our table! The Montage, it turns out, is a small warren of different spaces. There are a couple of rooms at the back (one wallpapered with those OS maps we'd found - what a brilliant idea) where you can sit and eat.  Beyond these, if the sun's shining, there's a peaceful small garden with tables and chairs, and a dog bowl for canine companions. The garden's newly planted but looks set to become a little green haven, edged by a fence with flowers growing wild on the other side. When we were there, a couple had ensconced themselves at a table spread with books in the garden and another man was inside working on his laptop - very tranquil.

In addition, they have devoted a whole room to a children’s play area which means kids are well catered for too. It's downstairs so ideal as it's out the way and parents don't need to worry about their kids disturbing other customers. The room is filled with a variety of toys which should keep little ones occupied for a while!

In the main café area there was a very inviting selection of homemade cakes and biscuits on the counter. We sampled a fresh scone with a generous dollop of cream and jam in the middle, and a delicious square of summer berry cake (though the lemon drizzle did also look very tempting). They have proper coffee and tea including ten different kinds of herbal tea, which the lady behind the counter patiently listed for me! Plus the tea comes in individual teapots.

After tea, it was time to investigate the art gallery upstairs. There's a good selection of art scattered about the rooms, but in the gallery space there's a bigger exhibition of work by a single artist which tends to change every month.

If you're wandering along Dartmouth Road in search of somewhere new to explore - and if you love St David's, Canvas and Cream, Doopo Doopo and Aga's Deli - then this is definitely a place to add to your list. There's a lovely unhurried atmosphere for reading, working, and meeting with friends, in between poking around for treasures. I'll be going back for some of those maps…

Review provided by Catherine Wood

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