When I say Hampton’s, the home and garden store in Penarth, you probably won’t associate it with music and dinner events. The quirky shop is full to the brim with decorative products such as gorgeous lamps, soft furnishings and a Cath Kidston range. It’s probably the last place you would expect to spend an evening listening to music and eating a meal.
Think again! By night Hamptons is transformed into a classy entertainment venue with a separate entrance that goes straight upstairs, bypassing the shop. The first floor of the store is cleared and becomes a stage area with the Blue Pelican Cafe (as it is by day) becoming the seating area for a night of music entertainment.
By day the Blue Pelican Cafe serves breakfast and lunch interspersed with afternoon tea and cake. By night it is full of well dressed couples and small groups enjoying a 5 course meal and a music event. We were invited along to the Spring Swing Jazz event last Friday and were treated to a meal and an evening of music from Claire Hingott and the Graham Watkins Trio.
When we entered the Blue Pelican Cafe, I first noticed the stage area which was very impressive considering it was in a shop. It was erected in such a way that you couldn’t really see the shop displays behind and it was very well done. The cafe area is separated from the shop by pillars and a railing which worked really well because it gave the effect of being on a balcony looking out onto the stage or even the feeling of being on a cruise ship.
The decor and the atmosphere very much reminded me of a 1940’s war film. The low lighting, combined with the soft jazz music while we waited for the main act the start and the wood panelled walls really gave this effect. The evening seemed to appeal to the older generation although I think other events that are run would pull in a different crowd. Maybe it was the paper doilies that made an appearance with every dish as part of the presentation!
Staff bustled around serving drinks and seeing to customers. Although the meal was a set menu, the staff were still very busy taking drinks orders and checking that we were ok. They were very efficient and friendly and we felt very looked after. Drinks were a good price with a bottle of house wine costing £13 and £4.35 for a large glass.
The whole event was very well thought out with precision timing. Breaking the meal into 5 courses was an excellent idea as it meant that something was going on all night. We weren’t left waiting for courses, there was a constant stream of service with plates being brought out and taken away. The band came on during our second course and ended during coffee which was just right.
The food was presented very nicely on sharing platters. This was slightly strange when it came to the main as it was essentially fish in a cheese sauce, potatoes and vegetables which would have been easier to eat if it was on a plate in front of each person. It worked well with the other dishes though. I particularly enjoyed the 4th course which was a spoonful of Ginger and Apple Granita. The only niggle I had was that although we had eaten a 5 course meal, I left hungry. It was great having so many courses but it felt like a small 3 course meal divided into 5. We could have done with a little more food.
Claire Hingott and her band provided some lovely entertainment. Claire was very welcoming and friendly and chatted to us between tracks which was nice. She introduced her band and joked with them which made the whole thing very relaxed. The music was good, with lots of well-known songs and typical jazz standards. Claire has a lovely voice and was very popular with the crowd.
Overall, we enjoyed our evening. It’s a novel idea to turn a shop and cafe into an entertainment venue and worked very well. The idea of having your food and entertainment all in one place is very appealing to some people. Especially with the weather as it was outside, it was nice to have everything under one roof so you didn’t have to eat and then move onto a club or bar.
Hampton’s have a number of entertainment events coming up. The next is a Soul Sensation Evening on Friday 20th May. Have a look at their programme of events and see what takes your fancy.