The day I visited Nottingham Arboretum, that stifling hot weather had finally broken and the day was cool with sudden rain showers and a refreshing breeze.
“Weather has turned,” said a disembodied voice from the kitchen of the Arboretum Café to the guy front of house. “Yep, it’s cold today,” he replied.
“No it’s not,” said I, eternally grateful that the infernal heat had finally subsided, “It’s lovely and I’m going to sit outside.”
I ordered lunch and a coffee – grand price £7 – and went and found a table, moving the umbrella so I and at least part of the table should be covered in the event of another downpour.
The café has taken up residence in the old park keeper’s lodge at the bottom corner of the arboretum by the gate. It’s a welcoming place, for humans as well as canine friends.
My coffee (it was strong and delicious) arrived just as the next shower was beginning.
“Are you sure you want to sit out here?” the waiter asked me. I said I did. “OK, I’ll pass your food out of the window when it’s ready,” he grinned.
The café is open 10am to 4.30pm and does a range of breakfasts, brunches and lunches as well as ice cream and cakes. It was 2pm(ish), I had been walking around the city all morning and I was hungry so I chose sliced ciabatta with roasted vegetables, grilled halloumi and hummus. I was expecting something resembling a sandwich, instead I was delivered this.
Now how good does that look? The heap of roasted vegetables included tomatoes, various shades of pepper, courgettes, red onions and aubergines, the halloumi was grilled to add texture as well as flavour and the hummus had enough of a garlic kick for me to want to cover my mouth when speaking to anyone for a few hours. Perfect.
Considering most coffee bars are going to charge you £6 upwards for coffee and cake, this huge plate of food was damn good value… and delicious. I love the gorgeous saltiness of halloumi. I’m not a vegetarian (although I have vegetarian tendancies) but if I was, halloumi would be my bacon substitute.
The ciabatta, also grilled, was sliced thinly and crisp and crunchy. You didn’t really need the butter (yes, OK, I ate it anyway but you didn’t need it).
It chucked it down with rain while I was eating and I was glad I’d moved the umbrella – soggy ciabatta would not have been the same.
Although, as you see from the size of the brollies, had I not been eating alone, one of us would have been likely to get wet. As it was, I spent a very enjoyable hour sitting watching the world scuttling by under umbrellas and then putting them down when the sun came out again and repeating regularly as a little sun/rain cycle played out overhead.
I could have sat inside, it’s cute and cosy and has some lovely photographs on the wall, but where’s the fun in that?
- Location: 8/10 – lovely old cottage in the corner of the Arboretum next to the gate but also a main road so there are cars and trams going by
- Ambience: 7/10 – Both inside and out are lovely.It gets an 7 because there was no one there but me
- Staff: 9/10 – friendly, helpful, not in your face. And no one said: “How is your meal?” which is something I actually hate.
- Beverages: 7/10 – Small range of hot and cold drinks, coffee was lovely
- Food: 9/10 (specifically one ciabatta with roast vegetables, halloumi and humus: 9/10 – absolutely delicious, very satisfying and great value
The Arboretum Café is at the Waverley Street, Nottingham. Open 10am to 4.30pm.