Shaw Trust Cafe

Palmer Gardens


BA14 8QJ

01225 716316

Parking: yes

Disabled access: yes, and toilets

Child and dog friendly

Food: 8/10

Decor: 8/10

Service: 10/10

TripAdvisor rating: 4.5

I'VE been to this lovely little cafe, part of the Shaw Trust Palmer Gardens complex on Islington, Trowbridge, several times but it was a first-time visit for my friend.

As it was a lovely sunny day we took advantage of the outside seating area, which gives you tempting views over the rows of plants for sale, garden sculpture and pots and has a little play area which is perfect for younger customers to work off some energy.

The cafe is run as part of the Trust's work in educating people with learning difficulties and other issues to gain skills and find employmnet, so its food is freshly made daily by the trainees, with tuition and supervision, and served by them too.

There's a full range of breakfast items, teas/coffees/soft drinks and scrumptious cakes, sandwiches and salads and a hot food counter doing jacket potatoes with various fillings and several dishes of the day.

We went for cool soft drinks and a hot meal each: while I chose the lasagna, which came with vegetables, my health-conscious friend went for a tuna-filled jacket potato and salad.

Our food was dished up on the spot, although you sometimes have a short wait for some made-to-order items.

The lasagna was a very generous plateful. The main dish was creamy and meaty without being stodgy, and I really felt that the veg took the edge off its calorie content.

Five portions - that's all you need for a day and it was only lunchtime! In my personal healthy eating plan, where you can pay it forward if you over-eat your allocation (how is that different from promising to be good tomorrow if you have ice-cream today?) I was on a winner.

The broccoli looked to have suffered a bit from being on a hotplate but was nicely cooked, not soggy; the sweetcorn was what sweetcorn is; the peas I enjoyed as they are a veg we don't eat often at home as one family member doesn't like them and the only let-down was the carrots, which were curiously chilly.

Top place went to the cauli cheese, which was absolutely delicious and I would happily eat it as a meal on its own.

My friend was defeated by the generous size of her spud and its topping, though she did wish the tuna had had a little less mayo mixed with it. The salad, she said, was plain but very fresh.

After an hour's eating and chatting she had to head off, but I wandered back into the centre in search of plants. In fact I spent so long there I thought a little something was in order and, being a sucker for a good cake, sampled the rainbow sponge and a cup of coffee.

It was magnificent, light sponge which had been flavoured as well as coloured, and with a generous coat of icing. As those FB posts of dogs trying human food go, nom nom me want more of dis!

A good place for an inexpensive lunch (the total bill came to £23.10) but watch out for splashing out in the garden centre afterwards.