I am a big foodie; I love food, though I am fussy too, so fussy in fact that I am well known for my fussiness amongst my friends and family. I have eaten out at Michelin star restaurants and the local cafe and I do like all types. I particularly love going out for breakfast; it feels like such a treat. However; I am somewhat disconcerted by the new trendy “boutique” cafes – you know the type that do things like avocado and chia seeds on sourdough toast and sencha tea. I actually love sourdough toast, but I could definitely leave all the rest.
So it is refreshing to eat at a cafe that keeps it simple. I love a simple traditional english breakfast; and that is what they do best at the Super Sausage, in every variation and every size with chips or hash browns, simple tea (no leaves or pots) and it was cooked perfectly and delicious. Plus they serve breakfast all day – bonus!
Inside it is decorated as one would expect from an english cafe, but it has the addition of a couple of booths and outside seating (picnic tables). Though the view of the A5 has much to be desired. One does not come here for the view.
It is not the best place to go if you are keen on social distancing as the tables (inside) are tightly compacted together; you have to brush past people to get in/out to use the facilities.
Even with these minor drawbacks, it is well worth the drive (just outside of Milton Keynes) is the perfect low-cost greasy spoon cafe; perfect after a hangover; or for me, the perfect stopover on the way to Whittlebury Hall (where I was having a spa day).
The Super Sausage cafe is on the A5 in Potterspury towards Towcester, postcode: NN12 7QD. They have on site parking and toilets.
Now that the country has gotten through three lockdowns – yes 3 lockdowns in one year, it seems that companies are having to become more creative to keep afloat. I had been hearing about pods popping up in local pubs and restaurants. Frosts (our local and favourite garden centre) has a fantastic restaurant and cafe; they do some of the best cakes and afternoon tea around (their brownie is special but I digress).
Not only do Frosts do these outdoor pods, but theirs are called (and look like) Igloos and they are transparent; which on the cold but sunny day was lovely. When we visited Frosts in April, the current Government rules were that we were allowed to eat and drink outside but not inside (great idea in the coldest April we ever had, it was snowing the week before). So going out for breakfast with my family in the snow and -2 Degree weather was not at all appealing – even though I had not eaten out since October 2020, but I was desperate to leave the house (those 4 walls I have been staring at during lockdown 3.0 for the last 4 months) and see my family (again who I had not seen in person for 4 months), so we booked an Igloo at Frosts during their opening weekend and had a lovely breakfast both outdoors and indoors.
The Igloo was outdoors but since it was fully enclosed, it felt like we were indoors. They had a heater, a fridge and a blutooth speaker. It sat six people, I would like to say comfortably but it was a bit tight.
The breakfast was glorious!
First they brought us a tray of fresh fruit and danish pastries. And pots of tea (loose leaf).
Then they brought out piles of toast.
Then they brought out our cooked breakfasts (that we had to pre-order).
It was delightful; and every time we asked for more toast they brought it out.
The temperature was cold but we felt so warm and taken care of; and when the sun came out, we decided to go out into the patio area with the other customers where they had lovely and comfortable rattan seating, then we sat in the sunshine and enjoyed some more tea, the kids loved their milkshakes.
It was so good, I absolutely pray that they will be keeping these pods as UK weather is so unpredictable; it felt so special.
The only minor annoyance was booking the igloo was not easy; it can only be done over the phone, and when you ring they take your details and someone rings back, but if you miss their call and you call back, they won’t take your booking so I spent all week playing phone tag; and even though I rang them on the Monday; it took until Friday before I had to beg them to just let me book already! And by then most of the dates I wanted were fully booked. Online booking would be great.
There is a minimum spend of £75, but with the six of us it was not an issue. I think it would be difficult for 2 people to reach the minimum spend (unless you have some bubbly too). They serve breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea.
*No one paid me to write this article, I just love Frosts.
Are you thinking about going out for a meal, but not sure what to expect? Then read on my dear friends.
On Saturday night, the family and my parents were excited to enjoy a bit of normalcy – we had our first meal out in 102 days! Harvester is a family favourite so that was our choice and we were excited.
But what should you expect now that lockdown is being eased – what has changed, will it be safe? Those were our initial thoughts, so below was our experience…
I booked a table online – but actually no, stop there.
I wanted a meal out with my kids but also with my mum and dad who are not within our social bubble (because neither one of them is single). So how do you eat out with someone not within your bubble? Well you have to keep 2 metres distance (or 1m plus a facemask or other measures), that appears to be the same answer to all Covid questions – always maintain social distancing.
However, when booking on the Harvester website, there is no way to request that. It asks how many people are at your table, but it does not have a facility to book more than one table in one booking, so I had to make two separate bookings and put a note in the system imploring that we are sat on tables next to each other – but not at the same table – my what a headache just to book.
Not a Harvester problem as such, but more about the complexities of “the rules”.
Next we looked forward to our meal, and even arranged to meet early in the bar for a drink, to prolong and really enjoy our first eating-out experience in many months. But alas, a few days later I received an email confirming our booking and letting us know the rules, one of which was that you are not allowed to arrive more than 5 minutes early, due to the lack of a waiting area.
On arrival there were clearly marked entrances and exits, and Harvester were firm about you using the correct ones. There were markings on the floor denoting where you had to queue (though there was no waiting for us at 5pm) and then you were greeted by the host.
I was surprised that they did not have a screen (to protect us and them) at the hosts station and neither did they have any screens around the bar (though they are probably not required as you are not allowed to approach the bar to order). The staff were not wearing any facemasks or visors, also a surprise.
The great thing though was that they completely understood my notes in my booking and we had our own alcove within the restaurant, so it was easy for us to sit together but 2 metres apart – I really appreciated that.
Food and Drink
The waitress took our drinks orders at the table (you cannot go up to the bar); and refillable drinks were refilled by the waitress.
My dad requested his favourite ale of choice, but they had very very little choice in that area – I think only Guiness, Fosters etc. the usual bar detritus. He was not pleased, but of course they did warn us when we booked that some drinks and food may be out of stock due to supply issues – to be expected.
Salad bar – the unlimited salad bar is still there, though your waitress has to choose the items for you and place them in your bowl – yes that was strange – but what can you do? Harvester are doing their best to limit contact.
Dinner – I ordered exactly the same item I ordered the last time we were here (in January I believe), which was the Beef Rib with chips. The January visit I was surprised and delighted by how delicious the food was – it actually tasted elevated, like they had a new chef or menu, it was absolutely delicious, the chips were impeccable, I remember commenting as such.
However, this time, it was not as good. Neither the rib of beef or the chips were up to their usual standard; and I have to put that down to either:
It was the first day they had been open in 4 months
Lack of their usual supply of food
I hope our experience is not how the food will be in the long-term; I hope that a loss in income will not result in lower quality food, because one of the main reasons one goes to a restaurant is to enjoy superior food; not something as good as one can cook at home (though not me, my food has all of the taste of and nutritional value of a hostel mattress).
That being said the service was very good, as I always find it there; and I really love Harvester so I truly hope it survives the economic crisis.
Overall, it was lovely to get out of the the house; to feel less inprisoned and to get a taste of normal life pre-lockdown. Let’s hope that we can all continue with these little delights and get back to a little of what we had before; and dare I say it – no more lockdown. One day… soon?
I would say be prepared that it might feel a bit strange, and it might not be the same as it was before, just like everything else in this almost post-apocolyptic world that is the year 2020.
A little about Harvester…they opened their first restaurant back in 1983 and have over 220 locations around the UK (we have 2 in Milton Keynes). They are owned by the Mitchell and Butlers group.
Today Rishi Sunak announced that people will be given £10 off their food and soft drinks bill (per person) if they eat out in August (only Mondays to Wednesdays). I don’t know if Harvester will sign up for this scheme, but I hope if they do it will help them and other restaurants and cafes stay in business.
*I was not paid to review Harvester and all of the above our my own honest thoughts and feelings.