A food-spattered notebook perhaps says more about eating habits than it does about food quality but not in the case of Darlings.
What it signifies, in my mind, is tempting platefuls that were so enticing I couldn’t wait to dig in. It also pained me to have to stop and write, hence the spicy, tangy tomato smear across the words ‘efficient, friendly service’.
It is rare that a lunchtime cafe offers so much and we, Angus dwellers, are lucky to have a gem like Darlings right on our doorstep - a social enterprise complete with gallery, high food standards AND top-notch service.
Each element, served with a smile, is carefully thought-out and lovingly prepared, from the crisp-dressed salad side, to the homemade coleslaw.
I was intrigued by the Smokie, cheese and bacon wrap. I couldn’t see how fish, bacon and cheese would come together. But it did, supremely well. For £4.95 the delicate wrap was also accompanied by triple...quadruple...cooked wedges that almost stole the show. Large, crispy and so clearly made on the premises they hit every taste experience one would expect of a wedge, including a satisfying crunch with each bite.
Dining with me, for professional purposes, was another Herald reporter who chose the sausage baguette with aforementioned tomato sauce (£4.25). Again, attention to detail made this the filling treat it was.
Darlings is an ENABLE project, supporting those with learning difficulties in a work environment and as a catering training academy. While enjoying the heart-warming just-made-that-morning apple pie and custard, we chatted to chef Kevin Smith who told us about teaching trainees the importance of brand standards with an emphasis on each plate of food looking, and tasting, perfect.
He said: “We help train people for 18 weeks and then try and help them find employment, we do the best we can.”
We had a chance to take a sneak peek at the Christmas menu; offering two courses for £11.95 and three for £13.95, it is a great way to get that festive treat for a reasonable price. The menu can be viewed on their Facebook page. To book as an evening meal, where the cafe will be transformed into a restaurant on Dec 12 and 19, phone ahead.