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Scone Spy: Our critic heads to Doyles Cafe in Balfron

Family-run Doyles Cafe’s cosy interior
Family-run Doyles Cafe’s cosy interior

A Scone Spy’s work is never done. Wherever I am in the world I cannot pass a cafe without checking out the baking cabinet.

Last week I was visiting friends in Balfron when I happened across a neat little eaterie on the main street running through the village, in Stirlingshire’s Endrick valley.

My hosts told me Doyles is a family run cafe and deli, which offers breakfasts and lunch six days a week. Friday evening is pizza night and you can order sit-in or takeaway.

We were invited to sit down at one of the freshly scrubbed pine tables by the friendly owner, Jack, who runs Doyles with his wife Jo.

It was almost lunchtime and the place was filling up nicely. Judging by the fact Jack knew most customers by name, I could see his shop is a real hub for the community. I’m told it’s also popular with passing cyclists, who you often see sitting at one of their outdoor tables sipping a coffee.

The lunch menu offers a selection of baked potatoes, omelettes and salads as well as freshly made paninis and ciabattas with a variety of filings.

My friend swore by the Hoots Mon Panini, that’s haggis, mozzarella and sweet chilli sauce in a toasted panini. It’s so good that he has not been tempted to try anything else from the menu despite living in the village for 10 years.

I’m happy to say he was not wrong. The sandwich, which came with a side salad, homemade coleslaw and a handful of mini pretzles, was so moreish, I felt slightly bereft after my last mouthful was gone. My other companion opted for the healthier option of the goats cheese salad. She described it as “lovely, tangy cheese, crisp salad and a dressing made balsamic vinegar”.

I was delighted to discover all Doyles bread and cakes are homemade, too.

The scone, when it arrived, was obviously just baked. It was still warm, light and airy and had a delicately sweet, buttery aroma. It was accompanied by butter and a dollop of raspberry jam. It was the highlight to a perfect afternoon.

Bidding my friends farewell later that day, promised to come back soon. And I’ll be visiting my new favourite cafe again too.

Scone score

Hand baked, airy and buttery. A delight. 8/10