I like lunch, of course I like all meals, but lunch especially so. It is the most versatile meal of the day. Depending on your mood, company or diet, lunch can be a three course meal, especially on a Sunday, a quick sandwich or a long catch up with friends and a few glasses of wine. Now today I was at home with the Wifey, the toddler was at the childminders and we had spent all morning tidying the house, so popping out for lunch seemed an appropriate reward.
We didn't want a big lunch, just a sandwich and maybe soup and this is sometimes a struggle to get. Most restaurants and bars try to push you towards a larger meal or they sell gourmet sandwiches with hot fillings and obscure combinations like Avocado, Cornichons, Kumquat Salsa or other suitably obscure ingredient. Sometimes folk just want a plain ham sandwich! If you are in the Falkirk area and want a simple, freshly made sandwich then you could do far worse than the Courtyard Coffee Shop.
The coffee shop is off the main road and has its own car park. The entrance is up a ramp and there is easy access for a pram or wheelchair. However there are maybe a few to many tables in the available space so it is tight, but not unbearably so.
The menu is simple, soup (lentil and a daily choice) sandwiches and paninis, served with crisps and salad. There is also pate and quiche if you so desire! We arrived at two, thinking the lunch rush would be over, and I had been waiting for the washing machine to finish so I could put another load on...! How Rock 'n' Roll am I? Well the lunch rush was still in full swing with only one table free which we promptly occupied.
We ordered the Brie and Bacon Panini and a soup and sandwich. We asked what today’s soup was, but they had run out and only had Lentil soup. They also had run out of Cranberry sauce for in the panini. Now running out of things is not always a bad thing, it shows you have been busy and also small business can have a lack of storage or cash-flow to have it all tied up in stock. If its a common theme or a key selling item I would take umbrage. For example in a KFC when they say, we have no chicken ready at the moment, it'll be five minutes,are you OK to wait? No not really OK, you sell chicken, you only sell chicken, its in the name (well it used to be) so running out, even temporarily of chicken is not OK!!!The better half asked if she could go off menu and have a ham and cheese sandwich as that's what she fancied. There was no problem at all with this and we ordered some drinks too.
The service was friendly and quick, even though they were full and the drinks arrived in a few minutes, with the food not too far behind. The soup needed a touch of pepper just to liven it up, but that's just personal taste and why they put those little pots of salt and pepper on the table! There was a good sized portion of soup and the sandwich was well filled and the brown bread fresh. The panini could have done with just another minute in the press, the brie hadn't really melted, but that may have been because there was so much bacon in the way! It was very well filled and served with crisps, coleslaw and a side salad.
We fancied a cake after and yet again I ended up with meringue envy, I challenge you to find bigger than the ones served here. The cream inside was fresh and there was a solitary cherry perched on the top, which seemed a bit of a token gesture really!
I had a plain scone and paid the 20 pence extra for a portion of jam. This is one of those times foil wrapped butter portions and a plastic portion of jam is acceptable, in fact expected. I paid £1.70 for that I wouldn't expect anything else, Willow Tea Rooms at £12.95 take note! The scone was clearly home-made, probably that morning or at the longest the afternoon before. It was a bit crumbly and light in the middle and was just the right size for the jam and butter.
The soup and sandwich deal is 4.95 and the panini £5.35, Meringue and scone set us back £4.20. The can of Irn Bru was £1.10 which is a touch steep as you just get a glass and no ice, but my pot of tea was £1.40 and I got three cups out of it; I guess I was the winner there. Lunch for two with drinks and cakes £17. Can't really argue with that and the food and service worth every penny.
If you find yourself in the Falkirk area wanting a decent traditional sandwich, without the faff then the Courtyard coffee shop is certainly recommended. The place is busy and deservedly so, but if you find that you can't get a seat just spend a few minutes browsing the Gift Shop or Kidz Boutique just across the courtyard. We popped in after lunch and there is a great selection of bits and pieces. Just be careful that your cheap lunch doesn't end up costing you considerably more!
***REVISIT August 2013***
After finding ourselves at a loose end and feeling peckish the wife and I decided to toddle back to the Courtyard Coffee Shop. Again we were very lucky and managed to get one of the few empty tables.
The soup was as good as before and the tuna-mayo and red onion panini was overflowing, such was the generosity of the filling.
So everything much the same as before then, decent home-made food freshly prepared and efficiently served? Well no actually, you see in the last few weeks there has been a new addition. The area in front of the entrance has been decked and four new al fresco dining tables have been added. Given the popularity of the Courtyard I am sure these extra tables are an excellent investment. I hope the good weather returns to allow us to use them on our next visit.