Billed as one of Fareham’s ‘finest and most distinctive buildings’, Westbury Manor has a lot to live up to.
The West Street museum has recently reopened following a £665,000 refurb, which also included the café.
Dish Detective decided to put the café to the ultimate test and visited with a group of seven new mums and small babies.
The sight of this group would be enough to strike fear into the heart of many café owners.
Would they block the café with their prams? Hog the loo with their changing? Were they going to sit there ALL day? And most fearfully – would their delightful darlings wake and scream the house down putting everyone else off and emptying the place in one fell swoop?
Despite all this, the staff at Westbury Manor were nothing but friendly and welcoming.
The café has extended into the room to the left (if you look at the building from the front) .
This means there’s now plenty of space for prams.
There was even room for other customers, plus, the original café space is still there in the heart of the building with seating so there was room for others to escape to
There’s also a terrace at the back looking over the beautifully-kept garden and there is the new addition of seating at the front for those who prefer to watch the hubbub of West Street.
The café, with its updated menu and serving area, boasts a typical lunch menu of sandwiches, salad bowls, paninis and quiches ranging from £3.75 to £6.95. There are also cream teas (£6.95) and an array of cakes (from £2.40), plus a children’s option – £4.50 for a sandwich, fruit, smoothie and yoghurt.
I opted for a chicken and pesto panini (£5.70), which came with a fresh and generous side salad as well as a small ramekin of relish and coleslaw – a satisfying lunch for a reasonable price.
The café also caters for those with dietary requirements.
One of The Dish Detective’s group has coeliac disease but was delighted with the choice – and opted for a gluten-free broccoli quiche.
Local produce is a selling point of the café with a range of produce for sale too.
I was pleased to see various flavours of the delicious apple juice from Hill Farm at Swanmore on offer. I went for the Cox and Bramley – my personal favourite because it’s so clean and crisp – at £2.
Lunch was rounded off with a treacle tart (£1.20) – after all looking after young children definitely requires extra calories.
During our visit some of the babies grumbled, but nothing was said, and when they needed to be fed – the place was friendly and relaxed. (A woman from a nearby table said that she had been visiting the café for 25 years as back then it was the first and only place in Fareham to allow breastfeeding – how times have changed!).
And when the babies needed to be changed, there was a large changing room on the ground floor.
The museum is run by Hampshire Cultural Trust and is largely operated by volunteers.
The building has served an array of purposes, from a farmhouse to council offices, converting to a museum in 1990.
There’s an exhibition about Fareham’s history as well as a changing exhibition space – the Egyptians on our visit.
There are plenty of activities taking place throughout the year and a lift to get the prams upstairs – and the best bit, it’s all free.
In all it was a good value lunch accompanied by a great family-friendly day out.
Well worth a visit.
RATINGS (out of five):
Tel: 01329 822063