A garden centre cafe may not be the first place you think of for a meal or just light refreshments, but your intrepid reviewers...

A garden centre cafe may not be the first place you think of for a meal or just light refreshments, but your intrepid reviewers decided to stop in Thompson’s cafe for a fortifying meal before choosing plants to adorn Cat’s tiny balcony.

The cafe is set in the middle of a glasshouse now used as a garden showroom. It has serried rows of plastic chairs and tables, in the style of an airport lounge, and is, not surprisingly, surrounded by exotic plants. Sparrows and robins flit about cheeping, and occasionally leaving a little reminder behind them. If you feel the urge, you can even sit outside and have your meal in the pleasant surroundings of the garden plants, so long as you don’t mind people driving trolleys full of Pentland pebbles around you.

Thompsons has an extensive light lunch and snack menu, at reasonable prices. It also serves main meals and has a good range of specials. There was an eager queue of folk at the counter and the wait gave your reviewers time to make their selection; Matt was keen to try the beef rogan josh and Cat chose a toasted cheese and onion sandwich.

Disappointingly for Matt and Cat, hot food – even a toasted sandwich – is not served after 3pm, although tea apparantly does not count as hot food. This isn’t too unreasonable, but on the day of Matt and Cat’s visit there was a long queue of people hoping for hot food at 3pm – and many were disappointed. Thus M & C opted for cold food, a cup of tea and a big cream cake. Once ordered the food arrived surprisingly quickly. Cat’s tuna sandwich had a generous portion of tuna and mayonnaise in nice soft bread, accompanied by a reasonable amount of fresh salad. Matt’s coronation chicken baguette was a good size and tasty. The tea was pretty good, with real milk in a jug, and the individual teapots held three cups – loads of tea – so good value there.

The apple cream puff, chosen from a huge range of very impressive home-made cakes, was lovely and fresh and there was enough tea left to wash it down. Strengthened by their light lunch, the task of buying plants approached… Matt and Cat left the nursery replete with a warm glow from the tea, a variegated holly tree and some violas for Cat’s tubs.
Thompsons Plant and Garden Centre, Newchurch

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