FINDING somewhere to sit in a coffee shop isn’t usually difficult - the need to book a table is usually reserved for restaurants only.
But that’s not always the case, judging by a recent visit I made to the Couples Café and Bistro in Retford with my folks on a busy Saturday afternoon.
The café was packed with customers enjoying lunch but we were immediately given a warm welcome and offered the chance to reserve a table.
After enjoying the shops and sunshine for half an hour we returned to find yet a few more reserved tables - suggesting the place is a firm favourite with its regulars.
Our friendly waitress handed us the menu which had plenty of choice, from breakfasts, light bites and paninis to club sandwiches and jacket potatoes - all with an enticing choice of fillings.
There was also a great choice of more substantial specials, from meatballs in tomato and basil sauce to chicken in white wine - all priced £4.75-£5.
And for those wanting to simply catch up over a coffee and cake, with a varied drinks menu and plenty of tempting looking treats on display.
It’s also fully licensed, caters for special diets and caters for parties of 4 to 12 on Saturday evenings.
Seeing as it was a lazy Saturday lunch, my parents opted for the brunch approach, with my dad ordering poached egg on granary toast and my mum creating her own breakfast, which also come with a free coffee. I plumped for the jacket potato with cheese and beans, accompanied by a generous side salad.
As we relaxed with the daily papers, I noticed a sign on our table stating: ‘We do not offer fast food - all dishes are cooked fresh to order’. And they weren’t wrong - after 25 minutes wait our food arriving piping hot to the table.
But it was worth the wait. My jacket potato was cooked to perfection with plenty of filling and an extremely generous side salad.
My folks commented that their food was also delicious, attractively presented and served with generous helpings.
My mum’s only gripe was that, given the long waiting time, she had finished her coffee by the time the food arrived.
Perhaps it would be a good idea to offer free re-fills on hot drinks or stagger the time they’re brought to the table.
But that was only a minor quibble on what was a really enjoyable meal, served in pleasant surroundings with a warm and friendly smile from all the staff.
And we had a smile on our faces when the bill arrived - £11.15 for three generous and tasty meals with drinks is really excellent value for money.
The Couples Café ticks all the boxes and really is a gem to be explored in Retford. And don’t forget to reserve your table...
by Chantal Spittles
Star rating HHHH