What do you do when you have that sweet tooth, aching to be satisfied, on a Friday afternoon, at the end of the school holidays? Do you risk going to a coffee shop, or worse a garden centre cafe only to endure screeching kids as they get their last bit of energy and excitement out before returning to school?
What options are there, as during school holidays it can be such a minefield. All I wanted was a quite, sugar kick with pleasant surroundings and good service. Only by chance did an option come to light. Having read reviews about Robins Farm, Latham Road, North Swindon (behind David Lloyd) and the size of their cakes on offer, I thought the risk of having kids there was worth taking.
Walking up the large car park in the middle of the afternoon, where there would have been plenty of room for parking at busier times, the pub looked empty. Going through the front doors, I saw a sign for a family entrance which lead off to the side, I thought that was a good thing. Also on the door was a sign saying they had a special deal on cake and a coffee.
Going in, the place was almost deserted. No screaming kids, a quiet but still inviting space. Walking over to the bar and exploring the lay of the land I quickly discovered the desserts counter. Yes this place had a huge offering of sweet, sickly, sugary goodness with an Ice cream counter to boot. I felt like I had struck gold but I was a little wary. These cakes were huge and no way were these going to be part of the coffee deal.
Finding a table was easy and armed with my table number I made my way to the bar to order a coffee and a huge slab of cake. This was when I encountered the first problem, the service. Although it was quiet, as in no tables, no customers and no queue at the bar, there did not seem to be enough staff.
I waited patiently and was eventually served by someone saying that their shift had ended 15 minutes ago and she was trying to help out. I was a little confused as there was not a lot else going on. I smiled and ordered a coffee asking which cakes were in the deal. “They all are” was the reply. The balance then started to right it self again and I was looking forward to this treat.
I gave my table number and ordered a slab of Toffee Waffle cheesecake and a coffee, handed over £4.95 of my hard earned cash. The coffee was poured there and then and I was told the cake would be brought over. I took the coffee and sat down expecting the cake to come right out, so I could enjoy it with my hot coffee. After 5 minutes, checking that they had wi-fi and the seats were comfortable and the place looked clean, I had to check with a server when my cake would arrive. I was told it had been put down as a take away? Mistake rectified, a few minutes later the cake came but the coffee was now cold.
When it came, it was hard to be disappointed, the size of this thing would be enough to send a small group of people into the sugar rush craze. I could see the numbers on the weighing scales already increasing but I was determined to try and consume this beast.
I started and after a few minutes I came up for air, but realised I had hardly made a dent in this thing, it was tasty and I was enjoying it. Already my eyes were bulging but I pushed on. After a few more minutes I had to give up and was disappointed that I had barely managed half of this sticky mess, the coffee had been drained and I was wondering what to do with the rest of the plate.
I decided to try and push it down with a small walk and walked to the back of the pub, where the carvery is located. It smelt pretty good. Walking into the empty but comfortable looking dining area, I could see there was a salad bar and then to the side was a carvery all laid out. When I looked closer I saw that most of it did not look appetising, it was dry and had clearly been out for a while. I would hope it would be refreshed if there was a customer but it advertised a poor meal.
I was glad I had only the dessert to deal with as the hot food looked awful. Walking back towards my table and the half eaten cheesecake I knew I was beat and was deciding on leaving the remains or making myself sick. That was until I heard someone ask for a take away box. What an brilliant idea, I was up for that. I stood at the bar again waiting to ask for a box as well and it appeared that the staff were too busy to serve me, however no one else was around. I would only guess it was the manager who strode right past me on the other side of the bar, ignored me took the phone that was not ringing, dialed a number and walked past me again on the phone. I was gob smacked.
Eventually a lovely lady came over and when asked for a box, grabbed it within seconds from under the bar and handed it over.
Scooping the remains into the box, I was able to leave the table a happy man with my spoils but as I made my way to the front door the final swing to it being a poor experience happened. As I approached the door I had to pass the ‘wait here’ lectern where the manager was stood, staring at the top of it. As I walked past, I was expecting a comment from the manager, thanking me or wishing me a nice day but I was wrong, there was nothing. What a waste of a chance to make one last good impression on a customer.
The cake kept in the fridge until the next day where it was eventually consumed in front of Saturday night television as I felt my eyes widen and my belt tighten.
This really sweet experience was a total roller coaster, it was such a shame it ended on a bad note. The service was terrible, the staff clearly do not have a clue on what their priorities are, as in how to make the customer happy. The manager seemed so insular that being in his pub appeared to be a bit of an inconvenience.
What a mixed bag for a food review. The carvery looked a shambles but perhaps at a busier time it would have a better appeal with regular refreshment. The dessert was amazing, the size, the cost and taste was worth the trip however on balance if I had to recommend it, I would tell people not to be in a hurry and expect to become frustrated with the staff. Such a shame as it has all the right ingredients to be a great place to visit.