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Silver Spoons

Garden Centre/Home improvement eateries

I have Pottery Barned and Ikead with the best of them but have always thought of garden centre/home improvement cafes as a particularly British phenomenon even when they clearly aren’t. I have come to the conclusion however that what they really are, is an additional layer of hell that Dante hadn’t even considered.

Imagine, if you will, deciding to meet a friend or colleague for a quick bowl of soup around lunchtime before getting on with your respective days. If efficiency and economy are are important to you, you’d be better to go to an actual cafe where sitting down and being served are the order of the day.

Yesterday we met at Fraser’s Garden Centre which is on the road from Kilmarnock to Troon. The Lime Tree coffee shop resembles a hanger inside with lots of nick knacks on the wall. There are serviceable tables and chairs in various combinations which will suit groups ranging from 2-10. When full the Lime Tree could easily hold around 40 people. The problem however is that there is no waitress service for placing your order.

What you have to do it go through to another very small area and queue to place your order. You also have to remember to pick up your cutlery from the same table that holds the kiddie meals. You might be oblivious of this if you don’t have children with you and have to make a return journey from the hanger to rectiy your error.

There is a board with specials but these are not wiped off as they become unavailable so have a second choice in your head just in case. The queue wends its way past various cakes and scones and you’ll certainly have lots of time to think about what you might have because here is where is starts to resemble hell. There is only ever one person on the till taking the orders. You are given a tray with drinks after you have paid but if, like me, you have ordered something which requires it to be made up they give you a number and bring it to your table later. I had ordered two soup and sandwich combos which came to £10.50 and although that is not what I consider to be dear, I had to stand in the queue for 15 minutes and then it took another 10 minutes for a nice girl to bring the combos to the table. 25 minutes from arrival to service for soup and a sandwich is unacceptable.

Compare this with:
Dundonald Castle Visitor Centre – 5 minutes
Silver Spoons, Troon – 5 minutes
HAC Bar, Irvine – 5 minutes

Table service is actually more efficient in the long run.


Silver Spoons Troon

Situated in the former site of Velvet Apple in Troon, this new cafe has taken an old-fashioned approach to the cafe experience. Waitresses wearing black, floral patterns on the tea sets on the white linen tablecloths and a cash only approach mark this place out as rather different.

The soup is home made and said to be nice, but we didn’t try it ourselves opting instead for wraps and macaroni cheese followed by tea/coffee and cake.

The menu offers brunch, a soup and pudding combo and afternoon tea.

Their Facebook page is here.

It has the potential to be good but isn’t quite there yet.

For example the “home baking” of large cakes is baked elsewhere so they don’t know what ingredients are in the products – not good for people with allergies. They don’t take cash but don’t tell you that when you order. They have fancy crockery on the table but bring you your cake and coffee on plain white.

When I was a girl I used to get taken for a treat to Wendy’s in Glasgow. My favourite thing was when they brought over the cake trolley with cakes under glass. They used pink tongs to take the slice and put it on your plate. It was the best ceremony in the world for a little girl. If you’re going to put fancy plates on the table they need to be for more than just effect.

They close early (4.30, 5 depending on the day of the week) which rules out High Tea which is something I think people really miss in Scotland. It’s also a good way for places with home baking to use up the fare they didn’t sell earlier in the day.

I hope they iron out these teething problems because there are other places nearby who are already up and running. Competition is fierce so it needs to be right to have staying power.

I’ll give it another try in a few weeks as I’m sure everything will be tickety-boo by then.

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