A great variety of roadside cafes grace the A roads of Britain – and Gloucestershire has its own little gem in the form of Jolly Nice, on the A419 between Stroud and Cirencester.
The original site was a garage, and at first glance you might not find the wood clad exterior terribly enticing. Pull in and park up, however, and you’ll have discovered something rather special. The current operation has been going since 2013, when it started selling icecreams from a silver Airstream trailer, and business is booming today, with all manner of local produce and plants on sale via the farm shop, local butcher’s, coffee shop and kitchen.
On a previous visit I couldn’t resist the KFP – that’s ‘Kentucky Fried Pheasant’ – which was pretty good. This time Terry and I both tucked into the JNB, or the ‘Jolly Nice Burger’, and that really lived up to its name. The emphasis is on quality local ingredients, so the meat is from traditional pasture-fed beef breeds (there are veggie options too), and the burger is served in a brioche bun with homemade mayo, red onion marmalade, Somerset cheddar, applewood smoked free range streaky bacon, tomato, lettuce and ketchup.
Staff were friendly and helpful – there’s no service as such, as you place your order and pay, then are given a pager which lets you know when your food is ready, but the counter staff we met couldn’t have been more welcoming. And, as befits a caring establishment, the food is served in recyclable containers, there are bins for cardboard, plastic and glass recycling, and well-behaved dogs are welcome.
Besides great food, the site features two yurts, each with a wood-burning stove, which keep customers snug on windier days – the cafe is out in open countryside and it can get a trifle chilly. If you do prefer to be outside, there’s a paddock with picnic benches, screened off from the busy road and offering views across neighbouring farmland, and you can always race back to the yurts to warm up.
Our burgers cost £7.95 each and we finished off with icecream from the farm shop – I tried the Local Gooseberry and Organic Elderflower while Terry went for Raisin and Pedro Ximenez Sherry, but I’ll be heading for the Basil & Strawberry Ripple next time.
Overall, our visit was, as you would expect, Jolly Nice indeed! It’s a touch on the pricey side but the quality and variety is top notch, the staff couldn’t be more obliging, and the operation is definitely a cut above the rest. Well worth a detour if you’re anywhere near Ciren or Stroud.