Christmas vibes and Sunday lunch at Riverside Nursery, Hockley

Riverside Nursery, Hockley, Christmas,
I love a Christmassy visit to a garden centre – all the poinsettias, decorations, food & drink, gifts... I’m in my element! We recently went to visit my Nan, as we hadn’t seen her since July and unfortunately she wasn’t able to join us for lunch. But we had decided on the Riverside Nursery as they have the Garden Room cafe and it’s somewhere her and my mum often go together. I’d been before on a weekday, but never on a weekend – I’d heard good things about the Sunday menu though.

There was a queue for the cafe, so mum stood in line, while we all looked around the shop. Of course, I was instantly drawn to the Christmas bits – the beautiful decs, the smell of pine and spices, it was like a winter wonderland. I definitely got all the festive feels and couldn’t resist buying more tree decorations. There were these beautiful glass hearts and stars that were painted white with gold brushstrokes across them. I go for a rose gold tree usually so this went with my theme and I ended up buying four stars because I preferred them to the hearts. I didn’t really know how many to get and do kinda regret not buying eight – especially when they were only about £2 each.

I could have gone crazy buying things. There were some beautiful wooden boxed frames with carvings depicting snowy scenes. They looked quite nice as they were, but they also lit up, which was magical. I know Alfie would have loved them, but no doubt they would have got destroyed. I’m tempted to have a look online to see if I can find them – they would look great in the window. Unlike most decs, they were quite understated and not at all garish – I’m anti-coloured lights and tack.

In terms of the food, there were some really indulgent looking treats – these huge wedges of nougat in different flavours and colours. In fact, just give me all the sweet treats! There were hampers, tea gift sets and allsorts – some really lovely Christmas gifts for foodies too, including chutneys and marinades. I ended up buying some chocolate balls covered in Christmas pudding foil wrappers. I’m making Christmas crackers at an Origrami Est workshop in December and thought they would just make good cracker favours/gifts. I also bought Alfie another drinks bottle and he chose one with farmyard animals on. He kept picking up everything and whinging when we said no, but luckily it was almost time for lunch...
The Garden Room, Riverside Nursery, Hockley, Table
The Garden Room, Riverside Nursery, Hockley, Pork Belly, Food,
The food at the Garden Room is always good and reasonably priced. In addition to the usual menu, there was a specials board and with it being Sunday, there were different options of roast dinners. Ash and I both chose the pork belly and wow, it was delicious! It was a lot larger than I was expecting, with two cuts of meat, a mountain of mustard mash, apple puree and tenderstem broccoli. I certainly wasn’t expecting two pieces of pork and felt really awful leaving it, but thankfully Ash was on hand to help me out. The meat was so tender and crackling perfectly crisp and seasoned. It was probably the best pork belly I’ve had – I didn’t feel sluggish or lethargic afterwards and it really wasn’t fatty. The plate may have looked simple, but sometimes simplicity is good – and it was so tasty!
The Garden Room, Riverside Nursery, Hockley, Pie of the Day, Food,
Mum had the pie of the day. She often orders pie at the Garden Room because they’re so good and what you’d call a proper homemade pie. She previously had the beef & horseradish and chicken & ham-filled pies but this time it was traditional steak & ale. I have to admit I got food envy – the pastry looked so good, nicely glazed and coloured. Served with mash, carrots and green beans with a jug of gravy, once again there was so much food!

Alfie had one of his favourites: sausage, chips and beans. He barely touched the chips, eating all of the beans first, but was really good in the highchair. It was also good that he was served his dinner on a kids plate with kids cutlery – I cannot believe how many places just give toddlers full-sized (adult) metal cutlery. I think it was The Gruffalo on his plate and he kept scraping away at the bean juice to see what was on it. It then got to a point where he was more interested in my blood orange San Pellegrino and of course, wanted to get out of the highchair... time to go!

Well Ash took Alfie to the car which gave me another chance to whizz around the shop. I don’t think I’ll have time to go back now but will have to check out our local garden centres to see what festive offerings they have.

Love, Lucy xx

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Love, Lucy xx

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