Going out to eat should always feel special. It’s a treat, particularly in these straitened times. When I go out I want to order something really delicious that I can’t just quickly knock up at home. So I always inwardly groan when I arrive at a café offering cheese toasties and tuna mayonnaise baked potatoes on the menu. Nothing wrong with either but really, nothing to get excited about. 

Visitor centre and garden centres cafés often fall into this category. You might get a decent scone but you wouldn’t expect to be wowed. So when news reached me of a genuinely interesting café above a garden centre on the outskirts of Glasgow I was intrigued . . . then impressed. 

Homegrown Garden Centre opened a year ago as a purpose-built garden centre, homewares shop and café in a rural setting near Gartcosh.  The space is designed to be a community hub and on this rainy Tuesday the café is buzzing with young families and groups of friends finding the venue a perfect relaxing place for a catch-up. 

The café is on the first floor, above the design-led interiors shop. There’s a mix of booths and tables, and huge windows look out over fields, trees and the dog walking loop that leads from the car park. A trellis-like structure runs through the room, giving an indoors-outdoors garden room feel. The menu changes subtly throughout the day, starting with packed brioche rolls in the morning. Brunch is really popular at Homegrown, often offering a quirky twist on classic dishes. Smoked salmon eggs benedict comes on a bagel, with a gochujang hollandaise and crispy shallots spicing up the poached eggs. The halloumi version has a beetroot hollandaise, spinach, crispy kale and pickled chilli: definitely worth getting here before midday for. 

The Herald:

I’ve definitely never seen French toast with streaky bacon, maple syrup, crispy onions and watermelon salsa before and I applaud the creativity (and I bet it’s delicious). At lunchtime there’s a small plates menu, ideal for sharing or for a lighter bite. I start with a grilled artichoke dish, which is soft and smoky from the grill, and paired with a well-dressed lentil salad. A tomato and coriander salsa is fresh and crisp, a lovely match for the earthy artichoke. 

I can never resist burrata on a menu but it can disappoint – happily not here. The wobbly young cheese is perfectly ripe and delicious. It’s served with crunchy pan-fried gnocchi and piquant pickled walnuts, with pea shoots from the garden, a delicious combination of flavours and textures. A miniature sourdough loaf with salty butter is an ideal accompaniment, and I take the rest boxed up home. 

After much deliberation my son chooses pork belly bao buns. The soft warm steamed buns are packed with hot and crispy pork with a sweet and sour tamarind glaze, curls of cucumber and pickled chilli. He’s delighted, and a huge side of paprika and garlic potato wedges helps stave off the teenage hunger (at least until pudding). Other main courses include haddock tacos with rainbow slaw, Nduja macaroni cheese and a roasted cauliflower salad with harissa chickpeas and pomegranate.  We eyeball the huge sandwiches arriving at a neighbouring table, no cheese toasties in sight. Instead there are crayfish tails in a brioche bun with bloody mary sauce, a towering Reuben with Scotch beef pastrami and a stacked club sandwich with chicken in a Romesco sauce, smoked bacon and toasted almonds. I’d be delighted with any of them. 

The Herald:

The sourcing at Homegrown sets it apart from your run of the mill café. Eggs are from Corrie mains in Mauchline and the organic milk in my coffee is from plastic-free pioneers Mossgiel. Homegrown uses ethically sourced Matthew Algie Peak & Wild coffee which supports Scottish rainforest restoration. Hot chocolate is made with Bare Bones Chocolate’s 68% Dominican Republic Salted chocolate, served with cream and vanilla bean marshmallows for a real treat. 

Herbs come from the garden with plans for more produce to be grown on site in the near future.

We can’t miss a trip to the heaving cake cabinet, packed with a tempting selection of classic and more contemporary bakes, all baked in house. I’m tempted by the lemon, white chocolate and blueberry sponge, but we opt for a pair of traybakes, decadent slabs of chocolate, biscuit and all the good things – and again take half home for later. 

With queues for a table even on a wet Tuesday, it’s well worth booking . . . and arriving hungry.