Scarrots Lane is a bustling little thoroughfare containing all manner of specialist shops. Want your drum kit tuning? No worries: Beat This has it covered. Broken the heel of your pole-dancing shoes? Try Purple Dreams for acrylic-soled platform stilettos and a feather-trimmed basque.
Strolling through this veritable Aladdin’s Cave, past Market Bakery and Wight Dwarf (a shop, not a celestial body), Matt and Cat arrived at The Retreat. This peaceful cafe is surprisingly spacious and benefits from a sunny aspect. On a warm day there is even a little terrace at which to have a light lunch, away from the traffic-clogged streets nearby.
For the third time Matt and Cat decided to have their lunch at this Scarrots Lane eatery. And the place has changed names in as many visits. In moderately quick succession the venue has been Monroe’s, Take 5 and now The Retreat. Would it be a case of, “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” as Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr might say?
Before they’d even taken off their coats, Matt and Cat were approached by a helpful waitress proffering a menu. There was a simple range of light bites; not particularly extensive – nor were any of the dishes a culinary challenge – but there was enough for M&C to make their lunchtime choice. And, like most venues, the staff at The Retreat were happy to accommodate Cat’s typical off-menu bread-swap request.
Bacon, cheese &
chicken panini £4.25
Bacon, Brie &
cranberry sandwich £2.95
Pot of tea £1.20
Bottled water 80p
The neat little eatery may have had a lick of paint since it was Take 5 but some remnants of its previous incarnation persisted, including a branded specials blackboard. However, it did not seem so desperately American as before; that market is reaching saturation since the arrival of Hard Rock Café wannabe venue House of Legends.
While Matt poured his tea – top marks for a tea pot and a jug of spare hot water – he and Cat gossiped about their morning while listening to local radio hissing out of the speakers at such a low volume that a bat would have trouble detecting it. This, by the way, was not a complaint. Regular readers of this website will be aware that M&C are intolerant to piped music and Matt reserves a particular loathing for the inane burbling of local radio.
Before long the food arrived. The tiny table could only just accommodate the tea and its paraphernalia; lunches were positioned with the skill of a war strategist shoving tiny models around a map of 1940s Europe.
Cat had a lovely bacon, Brie and sandwich. Meaty rashers (does anyone eat streaky these days?) lay atop some generous slices of cheese and sauce, all enveloped in the softest white sliced bread. Matt enjoyed his bacon, cheese and chicken with barbecue sauce panini. Both lunches were served with some salad garnish and oniony coleslaw.
Once they had eaten their lunches, Matt and Cat paid up and wandered back into the sunshine. The whole meal had been slickly processed from the welcoming arrival to the speed of service and the prompt clearing of the table. Maybe next time they’ll sit outside.