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Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Cafe Review - Smoooth

I'll be frank and say that when I heard that a smoothie bar was to open on Wells Road, I had big doubts. When the opening got delayed by several months, failed to get a hot food licence, announced that they didn't want to appeal just to school children and then struggled to find staff (they even approached me, so they must have been desperate!), my expectations were low. It was therefore a pleasant surprise when I tried it out last week, having had favourable comments from my children who had already been several times in the opening few days. The place is bigger than I expected, going right back into a lounge room at the rear. The decor is clean and fresh and not nearly as cheap and cheerful as I feared. The menu is very extensive when you consider it revolves around a few drinks, sandwiches and salads. For example, there are a dozen different smoothies to try with exotic ingredients such as acai and passion fruit. And here lies the problem. At peak periods they just can't cope with the menu. I called in on a Saturday afternoon and, whilst not over full, you could immediately sense from the absence of drinks and food on the tables that service was struggling. I had to wait nearly forty minutes for a basic panini (the only hot food). Others had clearly got fed-up and left. A waitress was wandering around with a tray of items and I had to point out that the people had gone at least fifteen minutes before it arrived. The preparation area is on full display and staff were trying to identify - without success - whether table 14 had ordered a Tropical Storm or a Brazilian Boost. The quality of the food and drinks is general very good. The smoothies are not cheap but interesting and tasty. The cakes - especially the organic carrot cake - were good, the panini (goats cheese and roasted vegetables) ok but served with a very tired salad garnish. Some things are over the top. You can't just have a pot of tea, you have to have a wooden board boasting a "tea temple with a fine glass teapot". All very well but glass is not good for keeping the tea hot and it was half cold by the time it arrived. There was more commotion when it was time to pay. A long wait whilst staff were trying to work out more orders and then no change in the til, meaning that the tip box had to be raided for coins. I hope Smoooth succeeds. A lot of preparation has gone into the place and - with the multi-nationals like Pizza Express creeping in, Ilkley needs small, individual places to open up like this. They must get the service sorted out and need to consider opening on Sundays. They also promote their website, but that doesn't exist yet either. Do go when it's quiet; avoid on a Saturday, or if you've got a train to catch. 14-16 Wells Road (01943) 600064. Take-away also available. Quality 9/10, Atmosphere 9/10, Service 2/10, Value 7/10, Wow factor 8/10. STOP PRESS - December 2010 - we hear that Smoooth has now closed. Very sad.