Drinking

Strong Adolfos

Not just a roadside cafe…it's a wonderful combination of Swedish and Cornish with an eclectic retro mix. Oh and really good coffee.

Fine coffee. Fresh food. Subcultural happenings.

 

  • The Atlantic Highway is worth a visit in its own right - such a road deserves a splendid driver’s cafe; a beacon on the highway.
  • “We didn’t want to own a generic cafe”, so it's a wonderful combination of Swedish and Cornish.
  • Thinking of the strongman character in the tales of Pippi Longstocking, they liked his name and it stuck – providing an identity for the cafe that’s as eclectic and colourful as its owners.

Driving along the A39 you are treated to a wonderful different view of Cornwall that’s every bit as beautiful as the seaside and the surf.

Fields of solar panels and towering wind turbines blend into a rolling green countryside of patchwork fields that cascades down to the ocean, a shock of blue – just visible on the horizon.

Naming of roads beyond numbers is often reserved for routes of beauty and this one is no exception. The Atlantic Highway is a road that is so much more than a means to an end – it is worth a visit in its own right – a great drivers’ road that attracts serious motorists. From classic car enthusiasts, to motorcyclists, to those who love the top down or just appreciate a stonking bit of scenery.

Such a road deserves a splendid driver’s cafe; a beacon on the highway; a place to pull in for a great coffee or some homemade food. And that’s what you’ll find just before you reach Wadebridge. Next time you’re in Cornwall, make time for the Atlantic Highway – and make time to stop off at Strong Adolfo’s.

This cafe and creative hub has been lovingly assembled by John and Mathilda Friström Eldridge and, like them, it’s a wonderful combination of Swedish and Cornish: mixing fabulous Fika coffee culture with amazing locally-sourced, homemade food – with a splash of creative happenings on the menu too.

Serving breakfast, lunch, coffee and cake, and open in the summer for evenings too, Strong Adolfo’s is the perfect place to stop before or after a day at the beach – or to find sanctuary and friendship on a rainy day. The menu centres around an ever-changing specials board and the artwork on the walls features exhibitions by local and international artists, so no two visits are ever the same.

John and Mathilda met while travelling in Indonesia and both had long harboured an ambition to open a coffee shop. It took a long time to pick their perfect spot. They originally thought they’d like to be in a town. But what a spot they chose. Stopping at Strong Adolfo’s is a worthwhile experience whatever the weather. Elevated above the highway so cars pass by almost unnoticed, and with floor-to-ceiling sheets of glass for windows, you’re granted a panoramic vista of the surrounding landscape. When it’s sunny you can eat surrounded by the pastoral idyll of the Cornish countryside, and in a storm, John tells me it’s equally spectacular: “It’s like you’re part of the weather; watching but safe from it,“ he says, “because you’re in this little protective bubble of the cafe. Like being in the eye of the storm.”

Something for everyone The interior features raw and reclaimed wood, metal, concrete and glass; John’s brother made the tables from reclaimed wood, the bar is built with reclaimed glass bricks and the lampshades are re-sprayed pig-warming lamps. The industrial, urban look of this new build is then softened with comfy sofas, Scandinavian-style woven rugs, tea lights and jam jars filled with flowers.

“We are here for everyone,” says Mathilda, “we’re not going to limit ourselves to this group or that group – we have said that from the beginning.” That means they get a whole melting pot of people in the cafe. Strong Adolfo’s has gained quite a local following – from the retired chap from Wadebridge who tells me he comes a mile and a half every day to eat his bacon butty and read his paper, to Mums who bring their children to enjoy milk from a jam jar. All appreciate the friendly welcome and stylish surroundings that bring a flavour of Stockholm and New York to blend with the Cornish vibe.

“We are here for everyone,” says Mathilda, “we’re not going to limit ourselves to this group or that group – we have said that from the beginning.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

“We didn’t want to own a generic café,” says John, “we wanted to do something with it, something from the ground up that had to be really us.”

“To be able to put your whole soul into something, for us, we really have to feel like it is ours and this is us,” Mathilda agrees. “And I think that’s part of why people like it because it is different and we have done what we would like to come to when we go to a place. We collected ideas travelling and living in cities and going to places and then assembled it.”

Influences John tells me another big influence in their decision to build the café here, rather than in a town, was influenced by a trend that’s captured his imagination. “I’ve got into motorbikes in the last five years or so and there are a lot of people in my age group coming to it from a fresh angle,” he explains, “there’s a lot of people coming to bikes from design, photography and media backgrounds that are creating customisation and being creative with it. We were worried about not having passing footfall being a problem but it hasn’t been at all. We’ve been really busy which is great.”

Strong Adolfo coffee

In fact, John says they’ve been so busy that the ‘subcultural happenings’ that are part of their ethos have taken a back seat so far. But now it’s time for a focus on that. Look out for monthly film and food nights, guest chef evenings, art exhibitions, live music sessions and custom and classic car and bike events running throughout the year.

Mathilda’s Swedish childhood baking with her mother and grandmother ensures there’s always a series of wonderful cakes on tap too – the apple cake and vanilla custard served up to me is a freshly baked dream. There is always more than one gluten-free cake option and the (free-range) eggs, dairy and meat are locally sourced. They also use Origin Farmer 30 coffee, which is roasted locally in Helston and guarantees a return of at least 30% for the farmers who produce it. Sat, as the cafe is, between the wind turbines and solar panels, there’s a real sense of authenticity, caring – and a responsibility that extends far beyond the beautiful countryside around them.

Who is Strong Adolfo? Sweden also gave them the name for the cafe – which comes from the tale of Pippi Longstocking, a childhood favourite of Mathilda’s: “We discussed ideas for a name but then we stopped talking about that and got onto talking about vintage circuses. We were sat on a motorbike actually, and I was behind John and I think I confused him at first and I had to explain about Pippi Longstocking and how there’s a guy called Strong Adolfo who is the strong man.”

They liked the name and it stuck – providing an identity for the cafe that’s as eclectic and colourful as its inspirational owners. The strength of this roadside beacon lies in excellent food, combined with an atmosphere that begins with John and Mathilda’s commitment to creating something that is uniquely them, and ends by making you stop and compelling you to be a part of it. Don’t miss it.

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