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Muddy reviews: Woodruffs Café

As the first totally organic café in Britain this vegan and veggie noshery in the heart of Stroud is a local legend. Want to know what we thought of it when we dropped in for lunch? Read on.

THE LOWDOWN

With the undeniably cool claim of being the first totally organic café in Britain, Woodruffs has been a stalwart of Stroud’s high street for 24 years. What you can expect is locally-sourced, organic, vegetarian and vegan fare served up throughout the day, in a buzzy, relaxed atmosphere.

There’s stiff competition for the wallets of foodies these days in Stroud, not least the recent arrival of the brilliant hawkers-style Five Valleys food market, and the town’s star is firmly rising, being named Sunday Times Best Place to Live 2021. Yet Woodruffs has consistently remained a staunch local favourite. So what does it do so well?

The emphasis is on fresh, locally produced wherever possible food, which wins it lots of gluten-free brownie points for today’s sustainability-demanding crowd. On the menu are perennial favourites (toasties, soups and smoothies etc) to a tempting daily rotation of fresh and quirky deli-style salads, specials and cakes.

Owner Jamie Shaw took over in February 2020. Previously working in publishing, colleagues would marvel at his lunchbox salad creations prompting him to get a stall at Stroud Farmers Market and when the owner of Woodruffs was looking to move on he jumped at the chance – just a month before Covid hit – but the cafe has happily come through it.

Jamie has some big plans for the place in 2022, including a refurb, a new menu (look out for awesome sounding CBD truffles!) and more events for the upstairs space such as jazz and art shows.

THE VIBE

Woodruffs is unmistakably Stroudie and boho in its feel, there’s nothing pretentious about this lovely little café . The interior is simple and paired down (perhaps to be jazzed up soon with the refurb but it’s perfectly functional and pleasant currently) with local art and photography dotting the walls as well as books scattered around, I really enjoyed thumbing through one on Stroud as we waited for our food.

Named after the original owner’s dog (it also happens to be a woodland herb) the vibe here is really friendly. There are a cluster of tables downstairs, as well as alfresco seating, but the cafe’s real surprise is its tardis-like layout with a large seating area on the first floor (I’ve lived here for a year now and never realised). At the back of the building is a separate ‘family room’ with toys and books, which if you’ve got little ones is gold-dust as they can roam free as you tuck into your lunch stress-free. There are also a regular weekly sing-along with children’s entertainer Mr Robbie on Tuesday afternoons.

We turned up at midday on a Wednesday and it was impressively busy, with a steady stream of customers and a buzzing atmosphere. The crowd was a wide mix from loyal locals popping in for their coffee on the go, to couples, families and friends.

We had brought the dog too and he was made to feel really welcome, getting lots of attention from the staff. Plus, it would be great place to rock up with the laptop for a few hours with recently upgraded wifi to use.

SCOFF & QUAFF

The platters of homemade salads behind the counter looked totally mouth-watering and did not disappoint. I went for Roast Cauliflower & Tahini (VE, GF) which was amazing, with little sweet and crunchy pomegranate seeds and almonds. I also had the Butternut & Feta Salad which was fabulous. The salads are actually super-filling and perfect on their own, but if you love a warm toastie at lunchtime (as I do) I highly recommend the Vegetable Supreme Toastie with aubergine, sundried tomato and a vegan pesto which came on an organic sourdough ciabatta.

Before visiting I’d heard the Mushroom Stew on Mash (£10) was legendary, and I can say hand on heart, it is. Swimming in a red wine jus, and piled high on a pile of the softest, fluffiest mash. In theory it was my husband’s but every other fork that went in was mine, it was one of the best vegan dishes I have ever tasted, and so filling you seriously won’t have to eat for the rest of the day.

There’s a nicely curated drinks menu, I went for a Super Green Smoothie (£4.25) which was a real winner, (apple, spinach, avocado, lime, basil, spirulina) and one I will be returning for again.

They had run out of Turmeric and Ginger Chai (£3.60) but the staff were really helpful, suggesting a ginger cordial made hot and steaming for my husband, which was delicious.

We were so stuffed after our mains that we decided to get the cakes for takeaway to scoff later. We went for the Kurdish Apple Cake which had a lovely crumble-style topping, and Chocolate Almond Cake (GF) which was deceptively light for a cake with killer looks.

Next time I would probably try the Sweet Potato Burger which looked great or the Spaghetti with Pepper and Walnuts. There’s also a special menu for your mini-vegans here, including faves such as toasties and mini soups and salad versions of the adult menu.

THE DAMAGE

Lunch for two with cake came to around £40 which is pretty reasonable. Perhaps a little more than elsewhere but when the food is totally organic and freshly made from scratch as it is here it is worth it.

THE VERDICT

Good for: Vegans and veggies, foodies of any ilk, families with young kids, freelance desk-surfers, dog-owners, anyone who just wants good, honest food with a friendly smile. You certainly don’t have to be vegan to eat here, but be warned, it may convert you.

Not For: Hardrcore carnivores, you’ll have to get your meat fix elsewhere.

To find out more head to www.woodruffsorganiccafe.co.uk. Or head to the Facebook page to join the community.

****PLUS****

WIN! We are giving away lunch (or brunch) for two including mains, drinks then coffee and cake for afters at Woodruffs Organic Cafe. Click here to enter now!

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