Character is central to a unique lunch

'The food is well prepared, locally sourced and is good quality'
'The food is well prepared, locally sourced and is good quality'

The character of any eatery can tell you a lot about its owners.

If you haven’t been in The Central Cafe in Broxburn, a cracking wee cookhouse that’s gathering a growing reputation in West Lothian, you would maybe struggle to pin down what makes the proprietor tick. However, one thing is for sure, it’s bursting with personality.

It’s owned by local lass Laura Battles who wanted to highlight the history of the cafe as well as create a modern upstairs-downstairs sit-in full of quirky memorabilia to enjoy a nice meal – and she’s succeeded!

The walls are tastefully painted in bright pastel colours with an eclectic mix of decorations from old photographs and retro signs to flowers and thistles as table favours.

Table tops are adorned with pages from old ‘Oor Wullie’ and ‘The Broons’ books, ‘NME’ and ‘Private Eye’ – perhaps giving an insight into Laura’s own tastes – which more than adds a touch of sui generis. And, if your smartphone is on the blink, you can just read what’s on your table.

The waitresses are bubbly and talkative and will happily engage in a bit of gossip or conversation if that’s something you like on your lunch menu.

I hadn’t long finished watching the third series of ‘Downtown Abbey’, so was in the mood to dine like the good folks of the upper class and chose the afternoon tea – with protruding pinky of course to complement the nice China.

We declined the opportunity to eat cucumber or smoked salmon sandwiches like the landed gentry and opted for a more working class staple of cheese and tomato, tuna salad and ham in between our slices. The bread is nice and thick and there’s plenty of filling in there to ensure it’s not just the bread you’re tasting.

The fresh food is well prepared, sourced locally and is good quality. On the middle shelf of the stand was a selection of cakes that you can’t take your eyes off as you devour the sandwiches, which take a lot of eating I must say.

I “bagsed” the big chocolate one while Louisa and Karen were happy with the cream sponge and the cream and strawberry finger, which I also managed to finagle bites of.

The top tier was scones. Although not a bona fide scone connoisseur, I think I can safely say Central Cafe’s homemade ones are rather spiffing.

I’m sure Mrs Patmore would be happy to serve up food this good to the Crawleys of Downtown. I certainly felt richer for the experience.