Where to eat in (or near) Falmouth: Potager Garden

As of this summer, I will have lived in Falmouth for five (!) years. Despite this, there are still nearby places that I’ve not had a chance to explore, and, in some cases, that I haven’t even heard of. Until recently, this was true of Potager Garden and Glasshouse Cafe, a venue located in Constantine, about six miles from my apartment. It only popped onto my radar after some of my closest friends held a farewell party there a couple months ago. Unfortunately, I had to miss the party because I was stranded in the Isles of Scilly. Luckily, however, I had a second chance to visit Potager last week during the geography department education away day.

A view of the grounds, with the glasshouse cafe in the background

Potager is normally only open from Friday to Sunday, but they agreed to open just for us on a Monday. We had the entire place to ourselves, which was amazing. Judging from how many of my friends routinely visit Potager with their families (especially those including young children), I get the sense that the venue is usually pretty busy and probably filled with the sound of frolicking kiddies. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but for a group of people who had just wrapped up the most hectic week of the academic year, it was extremely pleasant to retreat to the countryside and enjoy the sounds of silence, punctuated only by an occasional bird vocalization.

Cranesbills growing outside the greenhouse
Cranesbills growing outside the greenhouse

Potager’s menu is all-vegetarian, and uses items sourced locally. In fact, there is a large chicken run in the front yard, as well as an extensive veggie patch, so I assume that eggs and at least some of the produce are obtained right next to the cafe. The restaurant is well known for its frittatas, hummus, salads, and elderflower cake–all of which were on offer for our crowd. I had spoken to the chef prior to our arrival and arranged for our academics to choose from one of two dining options: a mezze platter with granary bread, salads, hummus, and olives, or a frittata, also served with hummus and salad. I chose the latter and, as you can see, my serving was absolutely enormous:

When I ordered the fritatta, I was expecting something made predominantly of eggs; instead, I got a gigantic wedge of boiled potatoes, held together with egg. It tasted great, but was much more filling than I needed given all the other food on my plate! 

We’d been in the middle of a serious discussion when the food was delivered, but everyone quickly fell silent as they concentrated on the much more important task of eating delicious food.

picnic table edit
It’s hard work to make sure the University of Exeter’s geography department is so excellent. We couldn’t have achieved as much as we did without such excellent brain-fuel.

Prior to lunch, we’d held a group discussion at the picnic table out in front of the cafe, and we’d also split up into pairs or small groups and distributed ourselves in various picturesque locations throughout the garden. After our meal, we explored further seating options: the dangerously warm, and therefore somnolent, greenhouse–which was outfitted not just with plants but also with picnic tables, an art installation, and a ping-pong table–and also the outdoor table in between the two large greenhouses. Unfortunately, it began to rain while we were seated in the latter of these two locations, so we had to retreat indoors once again for the remainder of our meeting.

statue edit
One of the pieces of art sprinkled throughout the greenhouse

After we’d had a bit of time to digest our massive meals, we were served incredibly generous portions of dessert–the seasonally appropriate elderflower and almond cake, topped with a lovely lemony icing. I had absolutely no room for more food, but the Potager folks were kind enough to wrap up my slice so that I could take it home and eat it for breakfast the next day (I’m not sure that’s quite the timing they had in mind, but it worked for me).

All too soon, our meeting came to an end and we had to pile into our van to drive back to campus. This was when we encountered the only real drawback to Potager: the fact that it is located in a fairly remote location accessible only by narrow, windy Cornish lanes. I have to give credit to our director of education for avoiding making me carsick; however, he was assisted in this achievement by a farmer who pulled out in front of us on an incredibly slow tractor hauling a huge load of hay bales. We passed several places where the farmer could have pulled over and let us (and the growing line of traffic behind us) go past, but he opted not to. It was an excruciatingly slow journey, inspiring a cheer of relief when we arrived at a junction at which the farmer turned left, while we turned right.

swing portrait edit
The Potager grounds feature not only a swing but also several hammocks–the perfect place to relax and digest a homemade vegetarian meal

Luckily, the traffic jam wasn’t quite enough to cast a shadow over our otherwise pleasant experience at Potager. It was a beautiful place with incredible food, and all at an unbelievable price (in a good way). Hopefully our amazing run of good weather will continue so that visitors can experience the delights of dining there al fresco; even if it rains, though, there is plenty of indoor seating available so that Potager can be enjoyed come rain or shine.


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