Roadside Food Stops in Lanarkshire
- Keith Smith
- 25 September 2018
Some of the region's handy farm shops, cafés and good food pitstops
Trunk roads, backroads, B-roads and bypasses - there's no escaping the fact that Lanarkshire is criss-crossed by all manner of highways and byways. From the suburban sprawl of the M8 corridor and M73 and M74 motorways to the relatively rural routes through the Clyde and Avon Valleys, whether you're travelling north, south or cross-country, if you're negotiating the Central Belt chances are your journey is going to take you through the county.
Where once there was little more to the region's roadside sustenance than the dubious delights of dodgy burger vans or stodgy service station fare, our tarmac travails have been eased somewhat in recent times. Thanks to a mini-boom in farm shops, cafés and purpose-built establishments, it's now well worth getting in the car even if you aren't actually trying to get anywhere in particular.
At the crossing where the A721 Glasgow to Borders cross-country route bisects the A702 Edinburgh to Biggar road is the Big Red Barn. This distinctive, repurposed cow barn is now a family-run country café that's also big on sustainability – a biomass boiler and wind turbine are just some of the features that demonstrate their eco-friendly credentials. Local produce, including baked goods from the nearby Garvald West Linton Bakery, are used wherever possible too, and the shop stocks a small range of choice Scottish suppliers such as apple juice from Clyde Valley Orchards alongside their own biscuits, jam and chutney.
If you're after something on the go (or just fancy braving the elements), they've recently added the Little Red Pie Shed, which as the name suggests, offers homemade pies and tarts. If you're keen to work up an appetite – or work off one of those pies – there's also more than 80 acres of mixed woodland, including some enchanting views of the Pentlands, with trails starting from the car park.
Awarded Best Newcomer at the 2018 Crema Scottish Café Awards, Hickety Pickety's homebaked cakes are definitely worth a detour. The setting, a converted barn on the A706 at Muirfoot Farm near Forth, isn't too shabby either, with a sunny courtyard in which to enjoy breakfast, brunch and seasonal lunch specials during the summer months.
Located in the centre of Douglas, on what was formerly a gap site, The Scrib Tree is a purpose-built pitstop which has transformed a previously scruffy plot into a smart, welcoming destination. With a strict sourcing hierachy that puts the emphasis on fresh, home-grown or hyper-local ingredients, food miles are carefully monitored to ensure produce is on the roads less than those who stop in to purchase it. Breakfast is a big deal here, from just-baked croissants and crumpets to smoked salmon and bacon courtesy of the renowned Ramsay's of Carluke. Lunches, light snacks, coffee and cake also make it worth the short detour from the M74, while regular supper clubs allow chef and partner John Gold further opportunity to demonstrate his culinary credentials.
The offering at Overton Farm has come a long way from selling sacks of tatties by the farm gate. Now, complete with its own butchery, a well-stocked farm shop and a 100-seater restaurant, the Young family's enterprise, just off the A72 Lanark Road near Crossford, has evolved beyond recognition since its early days. That steady diversification also means the menu at The Oven at Overton, their café which opened in 2014, is like a paean to the fruits of their labours. Beef, pork, vegetables and eggs from the farm all play a starring role in the homemade dishes and cakes. What's not grown, laid or reared on-site is usually sourced from some of Lanarkshire's finest producers; the bread, for instance, comes courtesy of Scotland's oldest bakery, Alexander Taylor of Strathhaven. There's a huge selection of meat and more to take home too and, if you time it right – just after noon on a Thursday – you can also take advantage of their weekly visit from Jim and the Anstruther Fish Van.