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Scone Spy: Our cafe critic checks out the new Pavilion Cafe in Helensburgh

© MARTIN J WINDEBANKA warm welcome awaits at the Pavilion Cafe
A warm welcome awaits at the Pavilion Cafe

It has been nice to see the revival of local park cafes over the last few years. Most towns have one in their green spaces nowadays and it’s a real treat to be able to enjoy a cuppa and bite to eat after a walk in nature.

Last week I discovered the recently opened Pavilion Cafe in Helensburgh’s Hermitage Park. I was visiting a friend who has small children and we’d gone to the playground to let them run off steam. Of course, the rain is never far away at this time of year, especially on the west coast, so it wasn’t long before we were hotfooting it inside.

From the outside, the Pavilion looks like a giant wooden box, but the interior is warm and inviting. The floor-to-ceiling windows offer a lovely view of the plants outside and the handsome town hall beyond.

The pleasant waiter seated us at a very clean table, from which I could already spy a pile of scones sitting on a nearby countertop. This was beginning to look very promising indeed, though our server had an apology. A technical malfunction with the oven meant some dishes were not available.

Luckily, there was still plenty to choose from the brunch menu including French toast, eggs Benedict and breakfast rolls filled with Ayrshire smoked bacon, Stornoway black pudding (the best kind!) and house-made tattie scones (no, they don’t count). I went for the smoked haddock kedgeree, my friend had the breakfast burrito, while our small companions had a children’s picnic box.

The kedgeree was spot-on with a generous fillet of fish and a perfectly poached egg on top. The buritto – stuffed with a hash brown, wild mushroom and slow-cooked beans – was delicious, too. And the children gobbled down their sandwiches and chips before amusing themselves with the polystyrene model airplanes, of the kind I remember playing with as a child.

After all that savoury goodness, I was in the mood for a sweet treat. My fruit scone duly appeared with a steaming hot cup of tea. Home-baked, it came with a side of strawberry jam and butter. A lovely crunch on the outside gave way to a soft, crumbly middle. This really is the (park) life.

Scone score

A hand-baked triumph. 10/10