Funky Newquay Brunch Spot: The Garden Café
Every mum needs an emergency coffee-and-cake destination for those days when you feel you can’t go on and this is how, two years ago I discovered The Garden Café in Newquay’s Trenance Gardens. Being near the zoo, Waterworld swimming pools and a decent playground, it’s inevitably popular with the buggy brigade in the mornings but for a little café it wears a lot of hats (and serves up a really good coffee too). From casual lunch meetings to weekend beers and brunches, monthly supper clubs to biannual DJ nights – there’s plenty to please the loyal, local following.
The café opened just two years ago and is housed in the Heritage Cottages in Trenance Gardens, which date back to the 1800s. They were reopened (by the Duke of Kent) at the same time as the café, following a major community renovation effort and are also home to an events room (which hosts the loveliest Xmas grotto around) and a small museum. Away from Newquay’s town centre and busy beaches, it remains a fairly quiet local haven, though business definitely picks up in the summer months, when the staff swells from two to ten.
The café is run by friends Alex and Caroline, who met while working in Watergate Bay, in a café and surf shop respectively. And if the people make the place, it is their super-friendly and creative approach that keeps the punters coming back for more. Alex has always been in catering and heads up the café’s little kitchen as well as an outside catering and wedding cake sideline. While Swedish-born Alex’s background in retail (and er… zoology – she is a primate specialist) means she is brilliant with customers and has a killer eye for style.
Small but perfectly formed, the café’s interior is colourful and eclectic, with floral wallpaper, mismatched furniture, and a bright mix of crockery, cushions and blankets that bring the wood floors and exposed brickwork to life. Outside is an ice cream kiosk and plenty of picnic tables and customers can even spill over onto the beautiful garden lawns to enjoy coffees or beers on busy summer days.
Which brings me, rather tardily (I do apologise) to the food. As I mentioned, the kitchen is small, so Alex and Caroline focus on a small choice of brilliant breakfast, lunch and now weekend brunch dishes made with local, sustainable and organic produce, as far as possible. They offer classy takes on classic, casual dishes and great options for veggies, vegans and gluten-free diets. Their gorgeous cakes are all made in-house and the delectable brownie alone is worth a trip to Newquay.
Recently added to the menu is the weekend brunch, which is a like a breakfast smorgasbord – including everything you’d choose from the best hotel buffet. Eggs benedict and cold meats and cheeses vie for position among pastries, pancakes, granola and fresh fruit. They also serve a ‘Full Cornish’ but despite its size, the brunch still feels like a lighter option and makes a perfect mid-morning sharer. For lunch, deli platters, soups and ploughman’s are joined by daily specials – I once had a veggie chilli here that spurred six-months of experimental home cooking, as I tried to recreate it.
And finally, The Garden’s themed nights, such as ‘Jazz & Tapas’ and monthly supper clubs, with local chef Nat Tallents, are not to be missed. They even run party nights twice a year with cool, Newquay DJ collective Upstairs/Downstairs that have pulled more than to 450 people. Stay tuned to their Facebook page to keep up to date with all the latest events.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Since it serves coffee, beer and jazzy G&Ts the appeal of The Garden is broad but it’s particularly popular with parents and kids, dog walkers and small groups of friends looking for a laidback place to catch up.
Not for: It’s kind of a quiet part of town in winter, so you can’t expect a buzzy atmosphere mid-week and not being on the coast, we’re not talking coffee with a sea view but the panorama of the gardens is really pretty special.
££: About average for the dishes on offer but the food’s definitely not average, so for me that means great bang for your buck.
The Garden Café, Trenance Cottages, Trenance Road, Newquay, Cornwall, TR7 2HW . thegardennewquay.co.uk