I’ve driven up the A10 and past Pearce’s Farm Shop several time and always thought, “ooo, that looks good – I must pop in.” And my Cambridge-area friend Kate has driven down the A10 many more times and done the same. It was far too easy to drive past, but now, having finally popped in – Kate and I met there last week – neither of us will be able to resist a return visit.
Just 15 minutes north of Hertford, Pearce’s is fab. It’s a stunningly good farm shop. Forget muddy veg and bags of chicken feed. There was a glorious range of fresh fruit and veg, lots of delicious deli-style treats, fresh meat and fish, proper coffee, amazing olive oils and flavoured vinegars (definitely recommend the fig balsam one), and a very happy-making selection of gin.
It’s also got a pick-your-own – strawberries are done now, but the raspberries are looking good – and is a ‘proper’ farm. And there’s a selection of plants for your garden.
And – it gets better – they have a beautifully selected range of homeware bits and bobs. Some gorgeous Sophie Allport stuff, as well as some of the nicest cards I’ve seen anywhere in a long time. I was very taken with the fish-shaped serving bowls, too.
But – best of all, maybe – is the café on the back. Somehow, calling it a ‘farm shop café’ doesn’t really seem to do justice to the lovely, airy space they’ve created behind the shop, with a view out over the fields and not even the faintest hint of A10 traffic to disturb you. The terrace extends the space outside, and out there you feel like you’re miles away from it all.
It’s really very lovely. Big beams, massive windows, white walls, pale wood. And the tables seem to be arranged so that even though it felt good and buzzy while we were there, we didn’t feel like we were eavesdropping on anyone else’s conversations – whether we would have wanted to or not.
Kate and I plumped for the afternoon tea. It’s a busy spot for breakfast and brunch, by all accounts, and they also do lunches and Sunday roasts. But the prospect afternoon tea is just impossible to resist. So we didn’t.
It was all just so pretty. Forget mis-matched vintage crockery, this was all just very plain and simple – white china that just fitted perfectly with the whole feel of the place. It was definitely all about the food.
The scones were still just a little bit warm when we got to them. And the cakes and treats were utterly delicious. I don’t really like carrot cake – there, I’ve said it – but this one was amazing. The meringues managed to be both crumbly and marshmallow-soft, with a great big dollop of cream holding them together and topped with raspberry that was probably picked that day. And the little elderflower jelly was light and refreshing.
We got through the best part of two pots of Early Grey tea – the Tealicious blend, produced locally, which adds a bit of Darjeeling and Ceylon to regular Earl Grey – but we could quite easily have gone for a glass of prosecco to go with it. The wine list makes for happy reading, and is amazingly reasonable.
Of course, once we’d finished we had a bit of browse round the shop. And no, we couldn’t resist that temptation either. Artisan salami, very good olive oil, crusty bread. I mean, it would have been rude not to…
Now that we’ve have properly discovered Pearce’s — rather than just driving past all this time, there’s no way we’re not going back.
The Muddy Verdict
Great for: afternoon tea (obvs), the Full English, leisurely lunches, Sunday roasts, catching up with friends, an after-school early tea with the kids, taking your granny — or mum — or auntie — or anyone, really, out for a cup of tea and a slice of cake. The children’s menu looked good, too — a definite step up from chicken nuggets and chips. And, of course, there’s the added benefit of a little farm-style retail therapy afterwards.
Not so great for: well, it’s not open in the evenings.
££: neither Kate nor I could get over how reasonable it all was. Our utterly lovely afternoon tea was just £11.50, and we could have had a glass of prosecco to go with it for just £3.50. Lunch-time sandwiches, you’re looking at between £6 and £11. ‘Large Plates’ are around the £12 or £13 mark — and look brilliant — and ‘Small Plates’ for around £9. There’s tapas, too, for around £3 each.