Old business, new cafe: bear with us

Hildreth’s in Prestwood isn’t quite as old as the dinosaurs, even though a model tyrannosaurus rex used to adorn the entrance to the garden centre. These days it’s reproductions of a boar, a couple of chickens and a bear whose beady eyes are on visitors to this 400-year-old business. It’s like a mini-shopping mall: an ironmongery and hardware shop (the original Mr Hildreth was an ironmonger), a garden centre and two gift shops, all on the same site.

For many years there’s also been an unassuming small cafe. As the gradual easing of Covid-related lockdown continues, this has now re-opened under new management as ‘The Limes’. (I’m not sure of the reason for the new name; lime isn’t a conspicuous element on the menu, so maybe it’s a subtle tribute to Delia Smith, whose name is an anagram of ‘It had limes’).

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In terms of decor and layout, not much has changed. Some decluttering has taken place, though this may have been driven in part, at least, by the social distancing requirements of placing tables further apart. Some of the props from the cafe’s previous incarnation are still in use, such as the cherry-picking ladders in the ceiling and the suit of armour on which an exit sign sits at a jaunty angle.

The two most obvious differences are that The Limes operates table service rather than counter service (again, no doubt this fits in with social distancing needs), and that there is a new menu. The management say they want to get away from the ‘old hat jacket spud and pre-made carrot cake to something inspiring and creative’.

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That’s maybe a little harsh on the old menu – there’s nothing wrong with a good jacket potato. But Helen enjoyed her duck and orange salad (the orange may have been mango), and my steak and ale pie was a well-made pleasure.

The Limes looks like a promising addition to the local cafe scene, a worthy competitor for The Pantry at No 51 in Prestwood’s high street. It should help the current Mr Hildreth (the 13th) and his successors to keep attracting customers for a few more generations yet.

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