Deben Café Bar

Deben Café Bar on HMS Vale

A unique eating and drinking experience on the aft deck of a floating warship moored on the banks of the River Deben. 

June 2024: We are open 6 days a week 9am to 5pm including all weekends and Bank Holidays (closed Wed)

Welcome to Deben Café Bar. We serve freshly made breakfasts, snacks, main meals and the best barista coffee and hot chocolate on the river Deben – so we’re told. We also have a wide variety of hot & cold drinks, seasonal treats and a licensed bar selling draught and bottled beer, wine and fizz. Our new spring menu is popular with the whole family. We serve: meaty, veggie and vegan food.  We have some gluten free options too – do ask about this when you order. We offer ’18+yrs’ hot drinks!

Our wonderful ship café bar with river views, with a range of seating and viewing options.


How to find us: Our ship is moored on the banks of the river Deben offering spectacular views across the saltings towards the protected grounds of the National Trust and Sutton Hoo. We are located in Melton, nr Woodbridge. You can easily find us on Google Maps IP12 1PE.  There is  on street parking in Melton High Street and Dock Lane.  We are 200yds from the end of Dock Lane in Melton Boatyard (no parking on the boatyard). Park your car, walk across the railway gates, though the boatyard towards the river and you will see our big grey ship floating in the river. There is also good parking in Wilford Bridge Amenity Area.  Walk towards the river and you will find an interesting 500yd river wall walk to Melton Boatyard and HMS Vale. The What-Three-Words app will also help you find us ///goose.sleepless.pouch

You can reach us from Woodbridge: we are a pretty 1 mile walk along the river wall. You can also take the train to Melton for a lovely one way walk. There is plenty of parking in Woodbridge or Melton Railway station. 

Don’t forget to bring your four legged friend.  We welcome all well behaved dogs on leads and even have a dog menu.

OPEN Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun
 9am to 5pm (Closed Wed) 

Galley Opening Hours: 9am to 4pm  (Reduced menu on Tue)

Summer Menu

Summer 2024: Breakfasts, Main Meals, Baked Potatoes, Desserts 
Summer 2024: Fast Favourites, Hot Dogs & Burgers, Bar Snacks & Light Lunches

Menus: Food choices are our passion.  We try our very best to serve vegan, vegetarian, dairy free and items with no Gluten, in the same abundance as our other menu choices.  We passionately believe that when eating and drinking with friends and family there should be something for everyone.

Gluten Free and Dairy Free Raspberry Frangipane & Mango Sorbet with Fresh Raspberries

Our well stocked bar offers draught Birra Moretti, Adnams Southwold, Adnams Ghostship & Aspall Draught Cider. We also serve Guinness, Adnams Broadside, Ease Up IPA, Kopperberg, Ginger Beer and a selection of wines and spirits including many low alcohol options.

Our Coffee: We use single source Guatemalan coffee roasted locally in Halesworth.  Our artisan coffee supplier supports rural coffee farmers, providing storage & transport from plantation to UK.  Your coffee beans are ground on demand and our baristas trained to make coffee to suit your individual taste. We served traditionally made Italian hot chocolate too!

Potato, Cheese & Onion Rolls

King Size Tower Bacon 12oz Cheeseburgers: 2 x Revett’s 6 oz Meaty Burgers, with layers of Bacon, Burger Cheese, Lettuce & Tomato in a super size roll.

Sicilian Lemon Meringue Roulade with Cream & White Chocolate Sauce. Served with a slice of Fresh Lemon for an optional extra zest.

We bake our own sausage rolls, cheese & onion rolls, vegan rolls, cheese and fruit scones.  Time your visit to perfection and enjoy these at their very best – piping hot just out of the oven.

Baked Potato with Cheese & Butter.  We have a large range of baked potato toppings.  Have you tried our beef chilli hot and loaded? 

Check out our seasonal menu for more tasty treats!

Bangers and Cheesy Mash with Onions and Gravy.  Good wholesome food at its best.

We offer seasonal snacks, breakfast rolls, filling lunches, freshly made hot pastries, ready made sandwiches, homemade bakes and chef specials on the deck of an ex-Swedish Navy warship. We serve a range of food for the whole family: meaty, veggie, vegan with some gluten free options too. 

We bake our own tasty scones.  This is our Cheesy Cream Tea

Seating: Our covered seating area provides spectacular views over the river Deben.  We  also have plenty of open air seating with a variety of table and seating choices.  Further seating is available on our picnic benches along the river wall. No need to book, just turn up and enjoy the view. 

Popular with bird watchers and dog walkers alike, Deben Café Bar offers a place where everybody is welcome and can be at peace with nature.  Avocet, Oyster Catcher, Red shank, Green shank, Egret, Godwit, Teal, Shelduck, Kingfisher, Red Kite, Kestrel and Cormorant frequent this stretch of the Deben. The views change every moment of every day with the changing light, weather and ebbing and flowing of the tide. Visitors watch the deer grazing on the far shore and lucky ones see our seal passing by.”

We have lots of riverside seating

Recycling: We serve all our food in takeaway cups, boxes and paper bags which keep our food hot and are all recyclable.  We encourage our customers to use our sorting bins for recycling, glass and general waste. We aim to have a reduced impact on the environment, reducing the need for single use plastics, vast amounts of water and detergents.

We are proud of our friendly welcome and super service.

Supporting local business is at the heart of Deben Café Bar. We are delighted to have formed a links with Havensfield Happy Hens (Hoxne), Freshpac Teas and Coffees (Halesworth), Virginia Nurseries (Newbourne), Adnam’s Brewery (Southwold), Lacons Brewery (Lowestoft) and Revett’s Butchery (Wickham Market).

We all have our specialist roles within Deben Café Bar, but we work together as a whole ship’s crew, sharing tasks to offer the best customer service, food and drink provision possible.

Jared our manager making waffles. 

  Our food is freshly made in our ship’s galley. Our ship made sausage rolls are at their best fresh out of the oven.

We are open 6 days a week: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday (closed Wednesday).  Our opening hours vary with the seasons.  

Our menu changes with the seasons. We source fresh ingredients locally as much as possible. We serve locally grown fruit and veg, free range eggs, Revetts Sausages and 100% Beef Burgers. Quality is at the heart of our food and drink provision.

Opening hours: In the winter our hours are 10am to 4pm, but in the spring and autumn our standard opening hours return to our usual 9am to 5pm.  In the peak of the summer our closing time stretches with the light evenings and you will find us open until 6pm – watch our Facebook page and google page for regular updates. We also have extended opening hours on special occasions. Check our website, Facebook page or Instagram for updates.

We float on every tide, choose water round the ship or birds feeding on the mudflats. 

Deben Café Bar on HMS Vale covered and open air seating areas

We currently do not open late into the evenings but prefer to allow the river to quieten and the wildlife to relax into their peaceful surroundings. 

Our Customers love it here: “Sitting on the deck of HMS Vale, it is immediately clear that Deben Café Bar is one of those places where time seems to drift by.  Far from the madding crowd, with enviable views over the river Deben, you find yourself simply watching the tide as it ebbs and flows or admiring the variety of wildlife that fills the air and water. Deer graze on the far shore and occasionally a seal pops his curious head up to stare at café visitors. 

Despite all the difficulties we have faced preparing the ship, and everything the weather and Covid has thrown at us, Deben Café Bar has continued to serve breakfasts, coffee and cake to our river wall walkers, since September 2018.

“Looking back, it’s hard to remember all the challenges we faced, at the time they were almost insurmountable but now are moulded into the story of the ship and her history.  Once a mighty warship she has her own tales to tell and now we are part of that story.  And it all turned out alright in the end, she is the perfect place for the boatyard and wider community to come together and make their own. Every day we continue to move the project forward and it is a lot of hard work but I expect it’s always going to be this way; she’s settled in now and that’s what really matters.”

“It’s been a busy time since we made our first tentative steps towards converting our ship’s former wardroom into Deben Café Bar and we’ve not finished yet. Future plans include a pontoon for small craft to moor up while visiting the café or club house.”

“Thank you for your wonderful and continued support, your words of encouragement keep us going.”