The Greenhouse Café, Emsworth

The Greenhouse Caf�, Emsworth
The Greenhouse Caf�, Emsworth
20th Century Boy is at The Kings Theatre, Southsea this week. George Maguire plays Marc Bolan.

REVIEW: 20th Century Boy at The Kings Theatre, Southsea

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Pop-up cinema is how Sian and George, owners of Emsworth’s Greenhouse Café, are celebrating its 10th anniversary.

The 1960 movie Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, in which local resident Albert Finney starred as a factory worker, is being screened this weekend in the cafe’s courtyard along with others including The Muppets Movie and one on Chichester Harbour Conservancy.

But why choose film to celebrate a decade of the cafe? Well, the Greenhouse used to be the Pavilion Cinema – and before that the delightful small building was once a chapel with a distinctive clock tower and weather vane.

For those in a pedalling mood, the couple invite you to power the generator for the projector on Sunday’s Cycled Power Cinema Day to complement No Impact Man, an environmental documentary about a family abandoning their high-consumption New York life for a year.

Popcorn and hotdogs are the order of the weekend. But they are offered alongside the usual menu, which runs the gamut of British tried and tested. There are All Day Breakfasts; sandwiches; filled baguettes; jacket potatoes; salads and light lunches including homemade soup; chilli and rice; quiche, coleslaw and salad and ploughman’s.

The specials board changes from time to time, so expect possibly macaroni cheese; French toast with eggs, bacon and maple syrup; Welsh rarebit; lasagne with salad and half a baguette or maybe Eggs Benedict; sesame chicken noodles or a chicken goujon salad.

The friendly prices – Big Breakfast is £5.50, toasted sandwiches from £3.40, soup from £3.90 as are jacket potatoes, salads from £5.40, specials from £3.90 to £7.20 for the lasagne – match the friendly nature of the Greenhouse, where ‘good, honest, home-cooked food for all’ is their motto.

Sit, as many did last weekend, in warm sun in the sheltered courtyard on tableclothed tables with umbrellas or inside the square-roomed café itself with its cake-laden counter. Décor is simple and charming, a seaside mural decorating one wall, a community board on another.

A further wall is home to merchandise, including own-brand jams, marmalades, chutneys, sauces and mugs as well as cake stands and extravagantly-decorated anti-insect mesh cake covers.

Service is at-table, done with charisma by the owners and their young staff. A lasagne with salad and baguette were first up, the very hot lasagne strangely sweet. The large portion would have benefitted from some freshly-grated Parmesan. The mixed salad was perky, but was marred by the homemade vinaigrette which could have done with a good olive oil over sunflower. Again, there was a misplaced sweetness to it. But the meal was definitely ‘honest and home-cooked,’ something to be championed in this age of restaurant, pub and cafe packet-opening.

A chocolate cake from a range including apple cake, coffee and walnut, cheesecake and others for the sweet-toothed to relish tasted like it was made without butter, resulting in a cloying taste.

Where the Greenhouse Café scores points is in its sandwiches, cream teas and hot drinks. The baguette which came with the lasagne, however, could do with an upgrade, as the bread was somewhat tasteless.

But you would be hard-pressed to find a more agreeable, willing couple running a café in the area.

May the next 10 years be as charming as the past decade. My bill came to just over £11 not including a tip.

The Greenhouse Café, St Peter’s Square, Emsworth PO10 7AS 01243 370838

Open: Tues-Sun 10am–3pm

Food: Three (out of Five)

Service: Four

Atmosphere: Four

Disabled access: Great in courtyard but a little crowded for wheelchairs inside. But I’m sure they would do all they could to help

How to get there: Exit the A27 at the Havant-Emsworth junction and follow signs for Emsworth town centre. Take the third exit at the main roundabout, with St Peter’s Square on your right. The café is a notable building in the square. On-street parking or park in the South Street car park.