The Country Pantry is tucked away on Highland Road, just opposite one of my favourite coffee shops, T and Thistle. It’s a very small place, lodged next to an antique book shop and hairdressers, and still retains its old, vintage shop front.
I have passed it on several occasions but most of the time is has been shut. Their opening hours are odd, 8.30am to 2pm each day. So, it’s not great for an early supper or afternoon snack but, it seems to be one of the few places nearby that open that early for breakfast.
For a Wednesday morning, it was already quite busy with 11 people inside snacking. The décor isn’t spectacular and seems almost as dated as the shop front with red and white plastic table cloths, old fashioned wooden frames and china pots and tea cups on shelves above.
I entered and everyone seemed quite cheerful – two gap toothed builders chatted, an elderly couple smiled at one another and a man in a hoodie gorged on a full English. Their menu, on chalkboards around on the walls, had a lot of choice from various sized English breakfasts, Roast Beef dinners, jacket potatoes, sandwiches and ‘Bangers’ and Mash. There were plenty more traditional English choices. The prices were what captivated me the most with a full English Breakfast costing roughly £5.50 and £3.25 for a panini. Certainly cheaper than some places that charge £6+.
I approached the till and a pink haired woman greeted me cheerfully. I asked what fillings I could have in an omelette and she laughingly replied, ‘anything you want m’dear.’ So, I ordered one with ham, cheese and mushroom; enjoying the flexibility I had with my choices. For drink, I had a classic mug of tea and the lot came to £6. A bargain, I thought, in a city where something similar would cost a lot more.
I sat myself down and helped myself to cutlery and sauces at the front of the shop. I noticed that there were no cakes or snacks, such as pastries, on offer but an empty cabinet instead. I assume they normally have some but not today when I really craved something sweet.
My tea was given to me shortly after I had sat down, in a stained mug mind you, and the omelette 5 minutes later. At this point, I wasn’t expecting much but a large slab of an omelette was given to me with a neat side salad. It was a good size and as I cut it open, big chunks of ham and mushroom fell out with gooey cheese oozing on top. The cooks were very generous and I liked that. I was impressed with how much filling they gave me – certainly too much for me.
I only ate half before I gave up but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I wondered if their other meals were just as big, filling and tasty and looking over at the other people eating, I was sure they were. One person had ham, egg and chips with a pile of fat cut chips and another was halfway through a pile of chunky coleslaw. A few more people entered, one of which was my postman, and they all chatted to the nice waitress. They asked her how her holidays were and she asked them how their mornings had been. Obviously, they enjoyed The Country Pantry to be on such good speaking terms with one another. They were regulars who would definitely be back again.
The Country Pantry wouldn’t come on my list of top eateries as I find it lacks the atmosphere and I wasn’t too impressed by my dirty tea cup. But, it does come on my list of affordability and £6 for a tea and a huge omelette, crammed with generous mushrooms, ham and cheese, is impressive. The opening times also let it down but if you are after a hearty breakfast for next to nothing then this is your place.
It reminds me of Mumms Café, just down the road. It doesn’t try too hard to be anything special but serves good, no nonsense food like your Nan would make. It’s cheap and it’s filling and on your way to work, or if you’re hungover, is just what you need.
I’ll remember that next time I go to Hampshire Boulevard.