Food Review: The Artisan Cafe at Alby Craft and Gardens

Nestled in the heart of rural North Norfolk, Alby Craft and Gardens is a place I have visited on several occasions over the past decade.

Located between Cromer and Aylsham, it exudes a relaxing and creative vibe that would be hard to find in any other restaurant in Norfolk.

As well as being home to a gift shop, arts and craft galleries, beautiful botanical gardens and much more, it is also home to a charming and quirky café, the Artisan.

Alby Craft and Gardens’ artisanal café

It first opened in February 2020 – at least it tried to do so. After a very successful launch, it was launched deep in what is known as the coronavirus pandemic. You may have heard of it.

But despite the stress of learning how to negotiate a restaurant business under new government guidelines and restrictions, Artisan has steadily grown stronger.

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It describes itself as “a modern café located in a beautiful old converted barn, in a relaxing setting, offering home-made artisan cuisine with local produce”, and it fully delivers on its promises.

Alby Craft and Gardens' artisanal café

L’Artisan Cafe in Alby Craft and Gardens, chic pops

Upon arrival we were greeted with the usual hand sanitizer, clear instructions on the rules to be followed and the choice of seats inside or out. The sun was shining so it was a busy afternoon despite it being the middle of the week, but we were lucky enough to have a coveted table outside.

We were quickly brought menus that offered absolutely delicious meals and made our choices before heading inside to order where I was greeted with a superb array of freshly baked cakes, sausage rolls and scones cheese with an elaborate parmesan cap.

L'Artisan Café at Alby Craft and Gardens, Artisan burger

L’Artisan Café at Alby Craft and Gardens, Artisan burger

My partner opted for the artisan burger with a homemade brisket burger in a bun stuffed with cheese, bacon and caramelized onion, served with fries and coleslaw (£ 12.95) while j was going for the veggie flatbread pizza (£ 9). We both picked up a pop chic Broadland Orchard (£ 2.15 each) with my partner choosing a ginger ale with chili while I had elderflower. They were the perfect refreshments on a sunny day.

It didn’t take long for our food to arrive and we were served by the friendliest staff. They were all very knowledgeable about food and seemed even more excited than us by our choices!

My partner, who reluctantly gave me a (small) bite of his burger, said it was one of the best burgers he’s ever had – and I totally agree. It was meaty with a traditional brisket taste and nice texture. The slice of cheese was thick and it goes very well. The fries and coleslaw were also beautifully presented, well done and delicious.

Le Café Artisan at Alby Craft and Gardens, flatbread pizza

Le Café Artisan at Alby Craft and Gardens, flatbread pizza

However, I was not jealous for long. My vegetarian flatbread pizza was a treat for the taste buds. Loaded on a thin, crisp bread base, sweet red, sun-dried and green tomatoes filled the top, with sweet onion chutney and halloumi cheese adding to the depth of flavor. I could eat this meal everyday for the rest of my life and never get tired of it.

Alby Craft and Gardens' artisanal café

Le Café Artisan at Alby Craft and Gardens, flatbread pizza

Unsurprisingly, we finished our meals quickly and ended up with big smiles on our faces. It would have been rude to leave without taking a little something with us, so I ordered a slice of Victoria sponge cake and a cheese scone to take home, along with some nice memories of a wonderful lunch and the wish to come back soon.

Alby Craft and Gardens' artisanal café

The Café Artisan at Alby Craft and Gardens, cheese scone

Alby Craft and Gardens' artisanal café

The Artisan Cafe in Alby Craft and Gardens, Victoria Sponge


I cannot stress enough that this place is a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach. Art from local artists is on display around every corner, while the food itself feels like a piece of creativity. It is welcoming, relaxing, quiet (despite being close to the busy Cromer Road) and full of charm.


Hasselback sandwiches and potatoes go for £ 7.95, while bigger breakfasts hover around £ 12.95. The produce is fresh and often local so I thought the price was reasonable for what we got. There is also a children’s section for £ 5.95.


There is a long list of hot drinks here with choices of flavored coffees and different teas, including fruits and herbs. They also offer a wide range of chic Broadland Orchard pops.


Spacious, clean and perfectly functional.


The site has a variety of different levels, but there are signs directing users with disabilities the best direction. There are also options on the menu for gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options.

A service

Friendly but down to earth. We didn’t feel like we were being served, but rather treated and looked after by a group of very welcoming hosts.


Where do I start? As well as being in a perfect location, the food was sublime and the staff were also lovely. But if I had to choose, I would say the menu. There are absolute goodies listed there and it has clearly been well thought out.

In summary

Definitely worth a visit, especially if you want a decent, relaxing bite to eat. You may even get lucky and meet the resident peacock when you visit.

Our food critics are always independent. They are the opinion of the reviewer based on his experience of the place during his visit. The property is not aware of our visit, is not informed of our intention to write a review, and invoices are paid by the reviewer. The choice of locations reviewed is also independent and is not based on locations that do or do not advertise in our publications.

If you like it, try this:

1. The Orangery tea room at Ketteringham Hall, near Wymondham

A charming tea room set in the Norfolk countryside. It serves wonderful afternoon teas, including a flavorful variety.

2. Heydon Tea Rooms, Heydon, North Norfolk

Located in the beautiful and historic village of Heydon, the Little Tea Room has so much to offer. It currently offers a take-out service, but it’s worth a visit once it opens. It also serves one of the finest and tastiest afternoon teas.

3. The Green Restaurant, Opie Street, Norwich

Brought to you by the same folks as Pizzaterian, this company serves Indian-inspired international cuisine from the former Namaste India restaurant. The menu emphasizes the stuffed pancakes.

How you can support your favorite restaurant during the pandemic:

Takeout – If you don’t feel comfortable eating out, there are still many places that offer takeout for delivery or collection.

Vouchers – A valuable way to help businesses, you can buy yourself – or a loved one, as a gift – a voucher now to redeem when it is safe to do so down the line.

Buy Local – Make sure you are supporting restaurant and pub suppliers, including beer, cheese, and fruit and veg, by buying local.

Social Media – It is not an easy time for many people financially. A simple like on Facebook or following on Instagram, however, shows support for traders and can help them market themselves.

Remember them when they reopen – The restrictions will not last forever and our support must be consistent.

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