With themes from Nana’s front room to a sentry post, visitors to Sileby cafe The Green Place can enjoy a meal in surroundings that are anything but your usual.
Created from recycled materials, the pods are set in the garden area and, as well as helping to maintain social distancing, they allow customers to enjoy a meal with a difference.
Having seen photos of the pods, I was keen to pay a visit and try one out for myself.
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The Green Place is part of community project Complete Wasters, which aims to promote all things green and ethical while having fun along the way.
And the pods certainly are lots of fun.
They are dotted around the garden, which itself looks beautiful with all the flowers and vegetables growing, and there’s lots of trees which create little areas, adding to its somewhat magical appeal.
There were initially nine pods when the cafe reopened, including Indian Beach Hut (seats two to four people), Sunnyside (two to four), Honey Cottage (two to four), Nana’s Front Room (four to six), Checkpoint Charlie (two) and The Space Pod (two to four), as well as The Bus Stop (two to five), The Festival Glade (six to 10), and The Confessional (two).
Now, a tenth pod – the Caravan of Sound (two to six people), which really is a caravan – has been added.
I was visiting with my mum and two boys and gave them the chance to choose which pod to book.
A few caught their eye, but it was Honey Cottage that got the final vote.
And a great choice it was too.
The former greenhouse was donated, created and built by a local bee expert. It is complete with bee-design coasters, chintzy wallpaper, bunting, and colourful saris draped from the ceiling.
Around the room are interesting items for sale including tankards, candle holders and German tiffin tins.
Our pod had a lovely setting, next to the vegetable patch, with a view across the garden to some impressive sunflowers.
It’s worth noting that when you book your pod, you do need to pay a deposit, which varies according to the size of the pod. This is a non-refundable deposit, and will be taken off your food bill when you visit.
The cafe offers a menu of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free food, with plenty of savoury and sweet options.
The menu does vary weekly, but there’s always a selection of toasties and homemade cakes, plus a lot more besides.
On the day of our visit, the menu included garlic mushroom melt (£6), plant-based burger (£6), and Tempeh BLT (£6).
I liked the sound of the goat’s cheese, butternut squash and courgette tart (£6.50) and mum was keen to try the feta, pesto and tomato toastie. All toasties were priced at £5.50 and other fillings included Cheddar and chilli ploughman’s relish, Camembert and grilled pepper, and vegan feta with caramelised onion chutney.
As big fans of a simple but tasty cheese toastie, the boys both went for this option (£3). There was also a kids veggie sausage bun available, also for £3.
The ordering process involves you going up to the window of the cafe, placing and paying for your order, then collecting your drinks from the side of the cafe.
For the food, there’s a pager on each table which flashes and buzzes when your order is ready, and you pop back to the side of the cafe to collect it. Simple.
The boys were impressed with their cheese toasties and apparently the ones I’ve made at home since just haven’t been up to the same standard!
Mum also enjoyed the combination of flavours in her toastie, as well as the colourful salad and homemade coleslaw which accompanied it.
My meal was a very tasty plateful of food. The tart itself was excellent, with onion, leek, butternut squash and goat’s cheese, encased in a crumbly poppy seed pastry. It was served with beetroot relish, homemade potato salad, homemade coleslaw and a nice fresh side salad.
We felt quite full after our meals, but couldn’t resist trying some homemade cake, so decided to get a couple to share between us.
The raspberry chocolate brownie (£1.50) was immediately picked, and I fancied trying the parsnip and maple cake (£3) – mainly because it sounded interesting and I’ve never eaten a cake made with parsnip before.
Actually, it was delicious. With a very similar taste to carrot cake, it was moist and had lovely layers of buttercream. In went down particularly well with the boys, who actually ended up eating most of it.
The brownie was good too, with a rich chocolate taste complemented by the sharpness of the raspberries.
Once you’ve finished, you are encouraged to put your plates, utensils and rubbish into different containers.
Interestingly, the cups and plates – which are compostable – are currently being burned by The Green Place, and used to heat the hot water system. The ashes are then used on the garden.
This is part of The Green Place’s ethos of trying to be as self-sufficient as possible.
The Green Place is a lovely place offering an out of the ordinary experience unlike anything else available locally.
The food available is simple, but done well, and there’s a great team running the cafe, offering prompt service with a smile.
We paid £31.70 for four meals, four drinks and two cakes, which I think is good value, for homemade and tasty food.
We loved the pod we were in, and the setting in the beautiful garden was wonderful, especially on the sunny day we visited.
If you get the chance to visit The Green Place, I’d highly recommend it for a fun experience with a green, ethical purpose at its core.
The pods are set to be available until at least mid-October.
Our rating: 4/5
Food hygiene rating: 5/5