When the flood of votes for The Duchy of Cornwall Nursery Cafe arrived for the food Reader Awards 2012, we knew it had to be something special – it’d only been open for a few months and it won hands down.
Six months on and the business is going from strength to strength, which is no mean feat given its very rural location with no passing trade, save for visitors to the nursery. Not a fact that’s deterred entrepreneurial foodie Angie Coombs, who’s built the cafe around the holy trinity of fresh local produce, a relaxed, beautiful environment and good cooking.
That may not sound groundbreaking, but the rich seam of quality that runs through every aspect of the establishment makes this an unusual find. You don’t often find an experienced restaurant chef running the kitchen in a daytime-only cafe, for example.
Not that you should expect fine dining, it’s still serving cafe-restaurant food – just done very well. Expect to find dishes such as potted mackerel with gooseberry relish, or local venison burger in ciabatta, followed by homemade summer pudding or lemon posset with biscotti. Sandwiches are on the menu too of course, including what it asserts is ’probably the best bacon sandwich’ made with dry smoked bacon from Denhay Farms on white bread – and it may very well be true.
As the cafe is open from 10am there’s the opportunity to indulge in a fresh croissant and Origin coffee, or crunchy granola with yoghurt, fresh fruit and honey, for breakfast. Or stay through lunch until teatime to build your own afternoon feast with Cornish crab or smoked salmon sandwiches, properly homemade scones (nice crust, soft and yielding inside – stop drooling at the back) paired with clotted cream from nearby Trewithen Farm, Boddington’s strawberry jam and local Tregothnan tea. Then take it to another dimension with a glass of Camel Valley brut, the internationally award winning local fizz.
Hats off to Angie and head chef Richard Du Pille for creating their vision of what local produce, served in a relaxed cafe environment can mean, and hurray for us, as we get to enjoy it. Pass the Duchy? Not likely. JR