Sunday 28 August 2022

Woodcote Green Garden Centre Dobbies - New restaurant review

Many people don’t like change, especially when it’s something they are familiar and comfortable with.

So it’s not surprising that some people were a bit dismayed when the independent Woodcote Garden Centre in Wallington was taken over by the Dobbies chain. At first nothing changed, then I saw people on local Facebook groups complain various things were different and in their opinion not as good, and they had moved the gift section to make way for soft play.

That made me sit up and take notice straight away as a mum of a (then) three year old and living very close to the garden centre. So the first weekend that the soft play was open (last summer - July 2021) I arranged a play date with my daughter’s best friend and we went to check it out. Incidentally, I have reviewed the soft play over on my other blog Mini Moo Life - I thought it was great for younger children.

In terms of the garden centre overall and some of the comments I have seen online, I would have no idea whether the quality or choice of plants was any different as I am the least green fingered person you are ever likely to meet. It did look like something was missing though as there is a huge new area selling hot tubs; I can’t remember what was there before but am sure it wasn’t hot tubs. The outside play area is still there, with a climbing frame, slide and sand pit, and inside everything has moved around but it’s hard to tell what if anything is missing, apart from the Edinburgh Woollen Mill concession which I really liked (which went when EWM went into administration). 

There seems to be a much bigger toy area than previously which is both good and bad - great for gifts (in the past I remember it being mainly wooden toys, puzzles and Schleich animals and now they have everything from Peppa Pig toys to Lego as well) but I can’t see myself taking my daughter past that section without her wanting me to buy something!

The restaurant has also expanded significantly and has taken over a large section that used to house barbecues and garden furniture as well as it’s previous site. It’s also changed in that you no longer pay at the till when you order food and instead it’s table service. The menu didn’t look a million miles away from what the garden centre served previously but there were some additions. I decided to try a macaroni cheese toastie - I love macaroni cheese and have had it as a burger topping a few times but never in a sandwich! It was very rich and filling (definitely a bit of a carb overload) but quite enjoyable as a lunchtime treat.

Since I've been back, I've noticed there is a smaller menu than there used to be under the previous owners, but there are some interesting additions on offer like an afternoon tea (which I haven't tried yet).

We have been back to the garden centre many times since it changed hands, to buy plants, gifts, visit the soft play or go to the cafe, and to attend different events. For me, the fact that it has become part of the Dobbies chain is no bad thing; it has given us new opportunities and continues to offer everything we expect from a garden centre - but I appreciate that not everyone wants a garden centre to be as much a source of entertainment and general shopping as it is about plants!

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