Starting out in a basement in Penzance in 1991 ’with two staff and a potato peeler’, Archie Browns has evolved into one of Cornwall’s most loved independents – a health shop, a cafe and community noticeboard all in one friendly place. The original Penzance shop and cafe continues to thrive at this Truro location, which opened in recent years and features the familiar sky-blue frontage and vegetarian menu.
Archies, as it’s fondly known, is underpinned by strong ecological values, employing organic and local ingredients, biodegradable packaging and green energy. When it comes to the menu, all food is vegetarian or vegan, and salt and sugar are kept to a minimum. Careful thought goes into both the quality and sourcing of ingredients and also, more unusually, the nutritional value, which means that you’ll encounter ingredients such as micro-alga spirulina, toasted seeds, agave nectar, superfoods goji and acai, and barley grass.
All of this might sound like a very virtuous lunch ticket, yet the surprise here is the food, always made from scratch by chef Billy and his team, is totally taste-driven. The legendary salads, for which Billy runs occasional evening masterclasses, are a case in point. Expect flavours such as preserved lemon, fennel, pomegranate molasses and sesame to burst through, and a profusion of fresh herbs are often the key ingredient rather than a mere garnish.
Alongside comforting stalwarts such as homemade quiche of the day, homity pie or veggie burger, there’s a blackboard crammed with seasonally changing specials – from refried bean quesadillas oozing cheese and richly stewed beans to spiced spinach tart with cheddar and breadcrumbs and mushroom, butterbean and preserved lemon pâté.
Finish off with Archies’ peerless chocolate brownies, a slice of gluten-free rose and raspberry polenta cake, or a decadent mojito-flavoured baked cheesecake, in the confidence that, in addition to being absolutely delicious, it’s probably also doing you a world of good. <em>IA</em> <em>Published on December 18, 2012.</em>