If you're lucky enough to escape to the Malvern Hills, then it is essential you have a place of refreshment in mind that will revive and revitalise you after the long hours of walking. And isn't it just as well Malvern has the perfect place: Mac and Jac's.
Situated perfectly at the bottom of the Malvern hills, Mac and Jac's provides solace and edible treats for locals and hikers alike.
At first glance it seems to do everything – which confused me. 'Oh this is a coffee place that does food'. Oh no, 'this is a brunch and coffee place that offers dinner too'.
I kept trying to compartmentalise it in my mind, but soon I realised that their varied offerings are by no means a happy accident – all food and drink have been carefully curated in order to cater to their varied clientele for their specific needs.
Walkers fuel up here before the big ascent; cyclists stop off for a quick outdoor espresso; social gatherings are held on their big rustic tables; and dressed up gangs of women come here as the sun sets to dine before heading out to the theatre.
It manages to negotiate that well-worn hole between coffee shop and restaurant, which is a lifeline when you're out with friends when some want 'proper food' and others want a 'coffee and a quick bite
Come here for brunch, lunch, pre-theatre dinner, coffee, tea and cake, freshly baked treats. All has been catered for to an exceptional standard (with no weak link) whilst still maintaining a humble identity that is quite simply: Mac and Jac's.
The coffee is absolutely delicious. Perfect for my preferences (well balanced, smooth, easy-drinking). I'm not one to have two coffees a day, but this place made me break all the rules. They source beans from small family company, James Gourmet Coffee in Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire. They also offer a guest espresso which they charge at an extra 20p.
I haven't come across a coffee shop that does food so well.
It's restaurant standard in its quality; restaurant standard in its variety.
Breakfast options range from toasted waffles, to warm ricotta pancakes, from stuffed brioche buns and all kinds of eggs on toast; for lunch and dinner choose from a range of sandwiches, their famous savoury tarts, flatbreads, soup; or more hearty meals like lamb kofta with tabbouleh, a rare roast beef salad or the salmon and pollock fishcake.
I had one of their specials – the pea risotto – with a side of the garlic flatbread strips (pictured above) which was a superb.
Their menu is served until 6:30pm, so it works perfectly for theatre goers. And as for their sweet treats... I defy you not to try one.
Try their white chocolate and mascarpone tart, or their homemade shortbread, or their 30 day aged sticky ginger Parkin – I could go on, but I think it's best for you to encounter the same delectable shock I had.
Being such a glorious town, I felt spoilt when stumbling across a coffee haunt as good as Mac and Jac's.
It manages to negotiate that well-worn hole between coffee shop and restaurant, which is a lifeline when you're out with friends and some want 'proper food' and others want a 'coffee and a quick bite'.
It answers to a plethora of needs and tastes, without ever losing sight of its commitment to quality, personality and its identity every step of the way.
And if you happen to get a table outside, you will be blessed with one of the best views of the hills. A view, I'm sure, even Elgar would be satisfied with.