THOSE quaint tearooms with dainty china and fancy tablecloths are all well and good.
But it’s great to stumble on a quality, no-frills neighbourhood café that focuses on serving delicious food, with a smile.
Aroma in the wee town of Larkhall in South Lanarkshire draws plenty of loyal customers with its varied menu, friendly service and relaxed atmosphere.
It’s the delicious smell of coffee and bacon that lures us in off Larkhall’s busy main street.
Even on a Tuesday morning, Aroma is bustling and clearly a hit with all ages, from families with small kids to pensioners catching up over a pot of tea and bacon and eggs.
We take a seat at one of the café’s brilliant bespoke tables painted as movie posters for E.T., Beetlejuice, Gremlins, The A-Team and Dirty Dancing. It’s like a virtual trip down movie memory lane
At the back, there’s a snug of sorts with a mix of comfy armchairs and sofas clustered around low tables, ideal for having a chat over a hot drink.
The breakfast and lunch menu has plenty of enticing dishes, and there’s a specials board filled with sandwich and baguette options.
I opt for the “healthy choice” breakfast option of poached eggs and crispy bacon on avocado and toast, a complete contrast to my companion’s full breakfast.
My smugness at being good turns to jealously, though, when his square sausage, bacon, haggis, tomato and fried egg comes encased in an enormous wrap.
In my years as a hardened café critic, I don’t think I’ve come across one of these before.
The wrap is huge, crispy and tastes just like a tattie scone. Aroma also offers this wrapped around haggis, caramelised onion and goat’s cheese… yum!
Mine is delicious too and, as it was the healthy option, I don’t mind treating myself to something sweet.
Aroma has a tempting range of home-baked treats including huge meringues, pineapple cake, millionaire’s shortbread and rocky road slices, plus plain, fruit and treacle scones.
We try a huge strawberry tart with a nice, crispy base filled with cream and big slices of fruit slathered in a sticky strawberry sauce – delicious.
The fruit scone is decent enough but a bit on the small side and a little stodgy with a soft crust.
But it is packed with a good amount of dried fruit and isn’t too sweet
And the coffee here is brilliant.
I slurp down mine far too quickly so decide to order another to takeaway while I pay at the counter.
I imagine that most people leave Aroma on a high – and not just due to a double caffeine hit!