Sera Cafe Bistro, Buxton Road, Leek, Staffordshire, ST13 7LN.
The Sera Cafe Bistro is on the main Buxton Road, the A53, between Buxton and Leek in Staffordshire, on the corner where the A53 meets Thorncliffe Road. The restaurant is described as being in Leek, but it is really in the small village of Blackshaw Moor on the northern outskirts. This is a small restaurant named after the owner which serves Italian food.
The restaurant itself looks, based on its location and layout, as if it used to be a pub. There is a comparatively small car park - if the restaurant was at full capacity, there probably wouldn't be enough space in it for cars - reached from Thorncliffe Road. On this side of the restaurant there is an outside eating area, including one part that is in a mostly enclosed conservatory area.
Inside the location there are two main rooms. The first is reached from the car park, and has a bar counter; the second is beyond and has a pizza cooking area and oven overlooking it. This layout resembles the lounge and public bar setup of a traditional pub, only converted to a restaurant.
The restaurant was visited comparatively early on a Sunday evening. The first dining area was almost completely full; the second was initially empty. By the time the restaurant was left, most of the other customers had also left. The restaurant menu is comprised of Italian dishes.
On entering, you are shown to a table, and orders are placed there too. The tables are laid with paper napkins and a knife and fork, as well as a tray holding stoneware bottles of oil and vinegar, and salt and pepper. As well as the all day menu, there were also a number of specials on a blackboard. The food was chosen from the all day menu, which had a variety of hot and cold starters, risottos, pizzas, pastas and mains, the latter being predominately steaks and beef, but including chicken, pork, lamb, fish and shellfish. Children's portions of pizza and pasta were also available, as were some side dishes.
Two drinks were ordered, both 330ml bottles of Coca-Cola. These were served in a glass and were suitably chilled.
The starter was Antipasto Misto. This consisted of a wooden board which had the food on it. There were two slices of white rustic bread, a small bowl of pitted red, black and green olives, another small bowl of cherry tomatoes and similarly sized balls of mozzarella, two very thin breadsticks, two slices each of four types of meat - one Parma ham, the other three Italian salami - a large, thin circular slice of Italian cheese, a few pickled vegetables and served on a bed of mixed leaves. A small plate was brought to actually eat from.
This was quite a substantial starter which would probably do for two people (it is also available in a larger portion, presumably as a main dish). There was a decent amount of meat, and quite a variety of ingredients. The thin breadsticks were a bit unusual, and the rustic bread could probably have done with some butter, although olive oil was drizzled onto it instead. All the items had a decent flavour to them as well.
This was a 12" (all the pizzas are 12" and stonebaked) Calzone pizza, which was served on a wooden board with a pizza cutter. Inside the calzone was tomato sauce, mozzarella, ricotta and Parma ham. The folded pizza was topped with tomato and basil oil.
The Parma ham inside the pizza was very strong tasting; being cooked seemed to have brought out the salty taste of the ham, which may not be to everyone's tastes. The dough was soft, and there were plenty of juices inside the pizza itself. The quantity of fillings inside it were decent, but not enormous; there was enough but it wasn't really overstuffed.
There were a number of different homemade cakes to choose from, which were all on display in a chiller cabinet, all of which could be had with cream or ice cream. The one chosen was the Honeycomb Cheesecake. This had pieces of chocolate honeycomb both on the top of the cheesecake and inside it, as well as a chocolate and biscuit curl placed on the top. The plate was drizzled with chocolate sauce and had a few dabs of a green sauce, which tasted slightly minty, the whole being dusted with icing sugar. This was chosen with vanilla ice cream.
The cheesecake had quite a thick base, and is was a decent sized wedge too. The honeycomb chocolate pieces hadn't been skimped on either; there were plenty both on the top of the cheesecake and inside it. The dish was quite filling. The vanilla ice cream was fine, but it didn't appear to use genuine vanilla in it.
The total cost of the meal, including drinks, came to £24.25, which was quite reasonable for the quantity and quality of the food. The service was decent, despite being in the second dining area that was rather out of the way for most of the staff, especially when there weren't any other diners in that area.
The restaurant itself was easy to get to, as it is located on a major road, close to Leek and not that far from Buxton, and the outside dining area looked like it would be pleasant in warmer weather. Although it was in a village, there wasn't much else near to it. The size of the car park could be a problem should the restaurant be full, as it didn't look like it could cope with that level of business if it all came in cars, and there really wasn't much within easy walking distance.
The Sera Cafe Bistro served a nice meal at a decent price with a good quality of service, which is recommended as a place to visit when in the area.