want this place to feel like home,” says Roxanne Dominte, the affable new manager of what’s now our favourite daytime hangout in the area. “It is all about the customer, they tell us what they fancy, and we tweak the menu for them.”
Roxanne’s adaptable ethos to The Garage, which she took over a few months ago, is clearly striking a chord with local residents and workers. Swing by at lunchtimes and there are always swarms of people lining up for fresh salads, soups, baps, pizzas or whatever specials the chef has conjured up that day.
The open-fronted café is all about offering generous portions of healthy, nutritious food. “Everything is organic, all our ingredients are fresh, seasonal and our chef is very talented,” says Roxanne, beaming.
A statement we can certainly vouch for: every time we’ve stopped by for lunch we’ve been presented with salads containing the plumpest tomatoes, perfectly charred cauliflower, spongy bulgur wheat, crumbling, creamy feta, and hunks of juicy pumpkin.
The Garage is owned by the adjoining Wesley Hotel, which gives Roxanne and her chef the freedom to be experimental with their menus – but also the ability to keep things reasonable. A box of salad sets you back a mere £3.50, a panini or baguette is the same – while coffees are £1.50 if you bring your own cup. Result.
On that note the café has also inherited the hotel’s much-reported ethical attitude, placing an emphasis on not using plastics – all their packaging is compostable – and ensuring that they only prepare what they will serve that day.
As for the space itself, until a few weeks ago all the seating was outside in a beautiful courtyard with painted murals, wooden chairs and a fully stocked bar outback.
Just in the nick of time – now that the weather’s turned arctic – Roxanne has added a roof and heaters so the back is a cosy little nook. Perfect for a quick coffee or a couple of Friday night tipples to warm those cockles.
Main image: Clare Hand