Open for just a year, The Natural Apothecary Shop and Café was originally home to Michelin-starred JSW, now just around the corner in downtown Petersfield, and the short-lived Lounge.
The look is retro and stylish and equally as homemade as the food. There’s fine mauve and pale green painted wood and walls, as well as the iconic, beautiful apothecary wooden drawers lining the back wall.
An His Master’s Voice gramophone, a vast gilt-framed mirror and spectacular metal and glass hanging lights, one resembling the famed Louise Bourgeois spider Maman sculpture, add further style. Health food – teas, supplements etc - is on display. Soft music plays.
The simple, classily-designed menu kicks off with the all-day breakfast: homemade granola; porridge with a berry compote and honey (this is a health food shop too after all) plus smoked salmon with cream cheese on a bagel and grilled bacon with tomato on toast. Or choose an open sandwich on toasted sourdough, rye or wholemeal.
There’s also halloumi, roasted aubergine, hoummus or goat’s cheese with roasted red pepper and rocket or chicken with Satay sauce, avocado and chilli jam.
There are toastinis, a low calorie, low GL alternative with vegetables, tuna or egg and the Apothecary lunch which includes five different salads to go with chicken satay; grilled salmon fillet; marinated tofu or grilled halloumi.
There are fresh juices; smoothies; healthy drinks; teas including flowering green teas and coffees from a state-of-the-art Gaggia are on tap too as well as organic wines by the glass, carafe and bottle. Prices range from £2.95 to £7.95, drinks from £1.95 - £3.95.
I had a selection of those salads – chick pea, broccoli and red pepper; Greek salad; quinoa; butternut squash – with the grilled salmon fillet. The perfectly grilled salmon’s companions needed more oomph, particularly the Greek one, lacklustre olives and feta not impressing, the crunchy broccoli and pepper the best of the bunch alongside the butternut squash.
Bolder flavours would have made this luncher more satisfying, but the lightness did gratify and the lack of carbs were a welcome change.
I drank a pleasing organic Sauvignon blanc from what must surely be the most Scandi-stylish glass found in any restaurant, let alone a café. A water carafe with different smart glass was delivered without asking, another point in the café’s favour.
The on-view selection of fabulous, mostly homemade cakes, some gluten-free, included carrot and walnut; beetroot and chocolate and lemon with almonds, the latter my choice. The chef excels in cake-making, the moistness and balance of lemon and almond, both ground and roasted, winning me over alongside an espresso of merit.
The owners have exchanged the London lifestyle for the art of hospitality, seemingly effortlessly, as well as creating a fine balance of café and shop and cooking.
Their marketing skills are equally impressive, the less is more principle adapted over the hard-sell chain mantra. The business is timely too for those keen to adopt a healthier lifestyle mixed with retro charm. My bill came to just over £15, not including a deserved tip.
The Natural Apothecary Shop and Café, 1 Heath Road, Petersfield, GU31 4JE. 01730 858183. Open 8.30am–5.30pm Monday to Saturday.
FOOD Four stars (out of Five)
SERVICE Five stars (out of Five)
ATMOSPHERE Five stars (out of Five)
Disabled access: One step down to main seating area. It’s a narrow space for wheelchair users, but it’s possible.
How to get there: Exit the A3 at Petersfield and follow signs to the centre. Heath Road is to right off Dragon Street. Parking at a nearby car park, but some on-street parking as well.