Dobbies in Gillingham Kent asked me to pop by this weekend to pick up a Mother’s day treat from their newly revamped food halls. Conveniently we were in the area at a kids party (standard) on Saturday so it was a total pleasure to stop by and take a look around.
I mean, what Mum doesn’t love a garden centre? It’s basically a day out; a poor mans trip to the zoo and a safe haven for parents looking for coffee and cake, and solace in a place of calming greenery.
Dobbies is undoubtedly the elite of garden centres; it has the full complement of garden centre essentials… Plants (obvs), toy section, pet corner, aquatics, an incredible cafe (which does unbelievably good food and even afternoon teas), a children’s play area, the food hall, homewares, toys, seasonal gifts…and, the most amazing garden centre toilets you will ever see.
Today though we headed for the food hall – somewhat different to the Aldi shop I’ve become accustomed to, the finest of Kents homegrown was laid out before us; a foodies dream.
Imagine a high end farm shop, with artistic displays of locally sourced produce. Total eye candy for the tummy, especially the candy.
We intended to check into the cafe afterwards for a bite, yet we didn’t need to. With samples from a number of Kent based food manufacturers, we were treated to a three course meal with refreshments and even an alcoholic tipple. Samples we worked our way through included…
Apple juice; Owlet Apple Juice is grown in Lamberhurst Kent and as well as the traditional Apple juice, we had a little taste of their Pear juice and Apple and raspberry juice too.
Gin & Vodka; I just couldn’t say no to a spot of flavoured Gin from Nip from the hip. The rhubarb flavoured vodka was immense, and apparently goes perfectly with Prosecco…These little beauties were brewed just down the road in Maidstone, Kent.
Pies; Who ate all the pies? Me! The chicken one was scrummy, and the sausage roll went down pretty smoothly too. Kentish Mayde is based in Ashford, where there is also another Dobbies FYI.
Ice cream; Probably my favourite stall from the food hall, these two lovely ladies plied me with some incredible ice cream. Simply Ice Cream is another Ashford based producer, who I will be looking out for in a freezer aisle near me.
Bread; I couldn’t believe it when I found out that bread from The Bakers Bicycle is served straight from the freezer. How clever is that? You would not believe it when you taste it… These lovely ladies from Margate impressed me with their amazing product.
Fruit crisps; No meal is complete without a side nibble. Nims fruit crisps had me at hello…wonder if the girls would switch their pom bears for these?…
Clearly the mouse had her eyes all over that ice cream, and I can’t blame her – the coffee and cobnut was definitely a Kentish classic Mummy will be hiding from the kids.
I could have spent all day (and a small fortune) in the food hall. Around every corner lay another feast for the eyes; with everything you can possibly imagine laid out in all it’s finery. It’s like window shopping for the tummy.
The back of the hall boasts it’s own Brogdale butchers, where the best cuts of meat can be selected and purchased for the perfect special dinner. The steaks looked incredible.
I have honestly never seen so much cheese in my life, which when sporting a cheese and wine night hangover wasn’t the place for me to hover too long. Should have stopped by here yesterday…
Come to mention it, the alcohol section was impressive enough to make me consider a hair of the dog Kentish beer.
Not quite ready for a wine just yet…
Although, the soft drink section was pretty impressive too.
If I ever do win the lottery, this is definitely somewhere I would be doing my weekly shop – just imagine. In the meantime it’ll be a place to pick up a couple of special treats. I always think a hamper of delicious food would make a really personal gift – chutneys and chillis, a favourite beer and perhaps a sweet treat. What cheese lover wouldn’t love a stinky cheese parcel? The opportunities are endless…
And so, after a wander around the plants, the play area and the animal corner, there was time for a latte and some impulse purchases (can you ever leave the garden centre empty handed?).
Of course, not forgetting my Mother’s day treat on the way out…a beautiful hamper filled with all the essential goodies on Mother’s Day – fizz, chocolates, flowers and cake. Wow, WHAT a cake!
Thank you so much Dobbies.
Have a wonderful Mother’s Day.
I was gifted the hamper in exchange for a review of the food hall. All opinions are my own.