Phil Chambers changed careers to open up the Blue Bicycle Tearooms in Newport seven years ago. The premises are at their 300 year old house called De Bille House.
“I retired as a social worker in the Health Service Executive (HSE) and I decided to open tea rooms in my hometown,” says Phil. “I researched it for six months when I retired and went to Ballymaloe Cookery School and did a short course. It gave me a lot of recipes and ideas.
“It was my husband Frank who decided on the name The Blue Bicycle Tearooms. The Chambers family have been in business in Newport since 1865 and the old messenger bike we have in the front was used in the old grocery business and pub on George’s Street.”
Tearooms obviously focus on tea, sandwiches, gourmet salads and cakes. Phil says they make all of their scones, cakes, chutneys, pesto, soups and dressings in-house. Their signature cake is the flourless Princess Grace orange cake.
They serve all of their food on bone China and one of their most popular menu choices is a traditional vintage afternoon tea on tiered plates with cakes, scones and savoury sandwiches. Being on the Atlantic coast, they decided to make their savoury theme around locally sourced seaweed.
“We use carrageen moss in our vegetable soups and we also have a Kelly’s Seaweed Black Pudding served with Irish boxty and Kelly’s Seaweed Sausage blaas on the menu. We also serve Keem Bay smoked and BBQ salmon from Achill Island,” says Phil.
The walled Victorian garden is where they grow some salad vegetables, apples and herbs, and where they get the apples for their chutney, tarts and crumbles. They put seating in the garden to use it as an extra room, weather permitting.
“Recently we had an enjoyable Jazz and Vintage Afternoon Tea. We hope to do more of those events,” Phil says.
The tearooms are open seasonally from April to October. Phil says they have seen a marked increase in business with the development of the Gourmet Greenway.
“It has brought cyclists and walkers to Newport. It has put the town on the map.”