THE FABULOUS Follies
The brainchild of owner Aimi, Folkestone-based Follies outright refuses to be your run-of-the-mill local café. Brimming with character, this pioneering Aladdin’s cave combines delicious menus with equally striking antiques in a bid to bring an entirely new café culture to Kent.
by Gemma Dunn
Having swapped the London pub scene for the coastal realms of Kent, Aimi spotted a gap in the market for a café-come-antiques pairing, and quite literally set up shop on Folkestone’s busy Sandgate Road. Formerly a furniture shop, Follies’ venue boasts three spectacular floors of seating – each bursting with exclusive antique and vintage finds for sale. What’s more, guests are invited to dine amongst the tables, sofas and home décor. Well, as they say, try before you buy!
So with that in mind, three weeks after its opening on 18th April this year, my colleague and I – armed with laptops – made an executive decision to make it a café workday at this extraordinary new hangout. And I’m glad we did.
Operating under the expert opinion that breakfast really is the most important meal of the day – not to mention a working day – I kicked mine off with a delicious caffè latte and classic portion of toast, served with condiments. However as anticipated, this breakfast staple wasn’t so typical at Follies. Requiring a spot of customer DIY, it serves freshly cut inch-thick bread to be cooked in a number of vintage-inspired toasters dotted around the venue. This bloomin’ good idea not only allows diners to achieve their individual preference, but it also successfully adds to the fabulous interactive customer experience Follies has worked so hard to create.
Whether it’s friends popping in for coffee, shoppers or families and workers perusing the lunch and cake menus, one thing I noticed from my third floor sitting is that interest in the new business was high and its flow of customers, constant; and it’s certainly not hard to see why. From freshly made juices to flowing creative juices, when working or dining at Follies it is impossible to not draw inspiration from the well-appointed collectables that surround you. In fact, I happened to be sitting on a show-stopping, opulent gold velvet sofa that was once pride of place at the prestigious Grosvenor Hotel in London. Like much of the desirable antiques on display at Follies, a truly distinct piece that I’m sure could tell a thousand stories.
For those who like a browse, Follies is a superb snooper’s paradise. As an eclectic mix of dazzling chandeliers adorn the ceilings, you’ll find opulent chair sets, rugs, mirrors, lamps, vases, furniture, paintings, clothes and more vintage finds around every corner. An ever-changing interior such as this also means regular clientele can return again and again, while enjoying a new experience each time.
In addition to Follies’ evolving decor, owner Aimi also let us in on her imminent plans to expand by first opening an outdoor courtyard and restaurant area, before increasing the menu to offer hot dishes and the famous Folkestone pop-up, That Burger. Having already established a community presence, the concept of introducing day-to-night dining and special event evenings will undoubtedly see Follies’ success continue to soar. Moreover, it already offers a BYOB policy, and with corkage charged at £4 per bottle of wine and £1 per beer, it’s certainly a reasonable – and incredibly intriguing – place to have a tipple or two.
On this occasion, Follies’ current menu did not go amiss when lunchtime reared its welcome head. Picking from their seasonal, daily-varying menu, my guest and I opted for a superb roasted mustard topside of beef served with salad; fresh potato and horseradish potato salad; Greek salad; and to finish, a cheeseboard comprising of Kentish Blue, Taw Valley Cheddar and Cornish Brie, accompanied by bread, a delectable chutney and grapes. A feast fit for a king you might say – which seemed rather fitting as we perched on a spectacular chaise longue.
Continuing with our reign, the perfect end to our day could only be realised if we indulged in a sliver of Follies’ homemade exquisite cake selection; well, having been greeted by the delicious array upon entrance first thing in the morning, we’d done well to hold off until this point! Our choices: a slice of Kent-based supplier, Samovar’s, award-winning honey cake and a piece of the divine pink grapefruit drizzle. With so much on offer and a further recommendation of the cherry bakewell cake, we will most definitely be back to work (and eat) more.
Back in April, Follies set up with a vision to bring something new and diverse to the town of Folkestone. Just two months on and its tasty food, elected antiques, friendly team, and above all, community spirit, has ensured this upcoming institution is well on its way to achieving, building on and surpassing that aspiration.
Follies, 133 Sandgate Road, Folkestone CT20 2BL