Ladies Who Lunch

Thetford Garden Centre

I went to Thetford some years ago, and made the mistake of not driving straight past it on the new bypass: I thought it might be entertaining to look around a bit. It was until I tried to find my way out of Thetford and back to civilisation. No signs anywhere. I had to ask twice then realised that it was the same people I enquired of both times.

Thetford garden centre (thankfully) is not in Thetford itself: if you can find the A11 (North), you’re almost there. It’s a few yards away from a whopping Tesco store on Kilverston Road. It being almost Christmas, I was urged to go because of the fantastic range of Christmassy stuff on sale there. Only later did I remember that I don't do Christmas! But I did manage to buy enough strange things to have my credit card cowering in the back of my wallet begging for mercy.

We hastened to check out the café / restaurant, and have coffee. The coffee was large, strong, hot and fresh. Thus revived we went in search of things to buy: and what a range of things there was! An hour later we met up again for lunch. In addition to the indoor tables, there is a large warm sun room which overlooks the late lamented wildlife park (now extinct) and we sat overlooking it. There is an extensive menu which includes brunches, lunches, salads, soups, and baked potatoes, also a specials board. The menu makes much of the ‘Happy Hens’, Local Farms, homemade cakes and biscuits, and there is a children’s section offering kids’ favourites such as sausage rolls, baked beans and spaghetti, all for about £3 to £3.50, or an Activity Bag Lunch with sandwich, fruit, biscuit and crayons (to play with, not eat ..... although who knows?) for £4.

The three of us chose different dishes: I was hungry and went for a jacket potato with chicken Tikka which was very tasty indeed: the accompanying salad was plentiful. ‘Old friend’ chose vegetable soup which was almost a mini veg casserole, and came with 2 small rolls chosen from a basket. ‘New Friend’ chose a panini with brie and red onion relish; this was comfortingly large and came with salad garnish. We were all delighted with the cheery quick service and quite soon were best friends with the Waitress from Oldham. The restaurant is not licensed so I had a bottle of St Clements which was very citrussy with a gentle tingle on the tongue. My friends had an ice cream milkshake each which they said were the best they had ever had. Puds came next and I saw some of those lovely big open fruit tarts with cream and jelly holding the strawberries in place: I do like a chance to see my pudding before I order, and had no hesitation in choosing this one. Both friends who are noticeably thinner than I am ordered blackcurrant and elderflower sponge pud with custard which, although a little small, was delicious. I almost offered to help clear them up, but was rapidly silenced by two hard stares.

I really enjoyed this place, it was happy and a tiny bit noisy, but that was hardly surprising considering it was Christmas (well, next to the last day of November which amounts to the same thing nowadays!).

There’s good parking, access all round is good and the loos clean and fresh. It is incidentally a garden centre and I am sure there must have been plants outside; I’ll check - in the summer. 643

These are the prices for two of us (for continuity): not the cheapest lunch, but very enjoyable and filling.

Milkshake 2.99
St Clements 1.99
Jacket spud 6.99
Panini 5.99
Sponge pudding 4.49
Strawberry tart 3.35
2 Coffees 4.40

TOTAL 30.20

Thetford Garden Centre, Kilverston Road, just off the A1075 (the old A11) north east of Thetford.

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