Even a long-time Surrey dweller could be forgiven for not having visited Farncombe, that sprawling outpost of Godalming whose main purpose in life seems to be causing confusion by sounding a lot like Farnborough.
Could Natter Cafe could change that, though? This place had been on my radar for a while having popped up on my Twitter feed, and ticked the Local and Independent boxes, so we headed out on the bank holiday to investigate.
After cruising up and down the road awhile in the manner of some unlikely drive-by shooters we finally bagged a parking space right opposite Natter. It’s an appealing little place sitting brightly in the middle of St John’s Street and it was bustling with customers when we stepped in on a Saturday morning. Luckily a family were just leaving so we were able to nab a table and one of several highchairs. Waiting staff sprang to attention, though backed down when they realised we’re the sort of people that take ten minutes just to choose between one type of filter coffee and another (Yes! They have a choice, coffee lovers!)
Of particular interest to us were the vegetarian options. It’s a bit rubbish to admit, but some of the more creative veggie breakfast options in Guildford seem to come from chains (Bills, Giraffe). We like to give our business to independents but Him Indoors is growing tired of avocado on toast. (He’s not overly keen on eggs florentine either, but that’s just weird imo!)
And – praise be – Natter’s menu offered some decent veggie alternatives. The veggie breakfast included grilled halloumi, which gets a thumbs-up here. There was a bruschetta with passata and poached eggs (It was also ‘smeared’ with pesto. Now, we all love pesto, but you might want to rethink the wording on that one, menu-folks!) and a decent selection of extras with which you could customise your breakfast, veggie or no. All the Eggs Benedict spin-offs: check. And scrambled eggs with leeks; a nom-worthy touch. For the kids, the usual array of stuff on toast, crudités, finger sandwiches, babychinos. And, btw, there were also some pretty yummy-looking lunch specials on the board.
Him Indoors ordered a Sumatra coffee which was poured slowly and solemnly through the filter in an almost religious way which I’m sure would please any coffee lover.
I’m not sure the hollandaise sauce was the hottest when my Eggs Florentine arrived, but the eggs were cooked to perfection – no ‘snottiness’, the yolks a fondant consistency, still oozing in the centre, just how I likes ’em. Eva eats like a horse under most circumstances, but I sneaked a mouthful of her scrambled eggs on toast, and can confirm that they were buttery-good. DP declared his mushrooms in tarragon butter ‘nice’. He’s a little less easily-pleased than yours truly, so that’s actually better than it sounds! There was also paper and crayons available to keep the little ones amused when not scoffing.
So, what could possibly be wrong with this happy scene, you may ask?
Well, upon enquiring about changing facilities, I was greeted with a rather sheepish face from the friendly waitress and, once I entered the Ladies as directed, I could see why. The place as a whole is pretty snug and, in keeping with this, so is the toilet. The changing mat is on a ledge directly behind the toilet. Right above that is a wall-hung cabinet. So, even if you manage to straddle the toilet to get a nappy changed (for which some sort of medal should be awarded), you’ll need your baby to be quite young and static to avoid limbs colliding with the cabinet above. I could see it was a no-go for my 16 month old bruiser, so I skipped that one, and there was no room on the floor. Frankly, it would be easier to change her in the boot of the Civic (an indignity she is now quite used to).
On the way out, we snaffled one of the chocolate-coated granola squares we’d been eyeballing on the cake stand. DP tucked in later, but suspected it of being ‘an upcycled Sainsbury’s granola square’. Which is a bit cheeky perhaps, if true.. but I’m willing to forgive them that in light of the general breakfast quality.
So, in summary. Good food. Cosy. Smallish. Nice, home-cooked feel to the grub. It feels like they care about the food and drink. Children catered for well in terms of food, highchairs and entertainment, though beware the changing facilities unless you have a very relaxed baby and legs like a cowboy!
Mums, it might be easier to park and leave the pram in the car at busier times, though I did see a couple in there, so its do-able. Also, when finding your way there, don’t confuse this Natter Cafe with their takeaway coffee outlet in Farncombe Station itself!
All the breakfast stuff came at fairly standard pricing for the area it seemed to me, with a full-on fry-up for £8, and kids breakfasts generally hitting the £3.50 mark. I thought it looked a little cheaper when it came to hot drinks and lunches. I’m no price-hound though so correct me if I’m wrong about that. What I look for in a cafe these days is decent food, a nice atmosphere and small-child-tolerance! Natter delivered on all these fronts, although it was a shame about the changing facilities.
But will we go back? Definitely.
So we might get to know Farncombe a bit better, yet!
Natter Cafe, 67 St. Johns Street, Farncombe, GU7 3EH