Monet, Monet, Monet FIRST impressions upon walking into Cafe Monet at Bennett’s Water Gardens in Chickerell are of beautiful garden views, friendly staff and a tranquil setting with peaceful music.
My two friends and I had the pick of the tables, being the only customers in there on a weekday lunchtime.
We chose a prime spot overlooking the water gardens, which the staff told us encompassed seven acres and were particularly beautiful in the summer months.
Looking at the menu, we were surprised by the expensive prices with jacket potatoes starting at £6.70 for the single filling of Dorset mature cheddar and peaking at £7.15 for prawns with a marie-rose sauce.
Sandwiches started at £4.95 for cheese and real ale chutney and this rose by £1.30 if you wanted it toasted.
We decided to share two Cafe Monet special melts between the three of us, and also to treat ourselves to a Dorset cream tea and a Dorset apple cake with ice-cream.
While ordering at the till, I spotted some delicious looking homemade flapjacks, but soon lost interest upon hearing the price was £2.20 per little square.
My friends and I relaxed amid the music, which included tweeting birds, and admired the view. Our food arrived promptly and the special melt revealed itself to be a sliced white bread toasted sandwich with a generous side salad and a delicious vinaigrette dressing.
The staff kindly fetched us another plate so we could share our feast more easily and we got stuck in.
The Dorset cheddar and real ale chutney combination was delicious and so was its cheddar and red onion counterpart, although we were not sure they were worth the £6.25 price tags.
The cream tea was a bit disappointing, as the scones were quite dry and could have benefited from being served warm.
Even covered with lashings of clotted cream and jam, the scones’ dryness could not quite be disguised.
The Dorset apple cake proved a much more popular choice, packed full of fruit and moist, accompanied by the vanilla Purbeck ice-cream it was a winning combo.
I asked the staff how much it would be to have a look around Bennetts Water Garden and was told it was £7.25 per person.
We left feeling nicely full from good traditional tea room fare, but reeling about the overly-expensive prices, which would perhaps explain why the restaurant, in its idyllic setting, was still empty when we left.
If the prices were a bit cheaper, we would definitely go back again as the cafe could be a lovely regular lunch spot for staff at the Granby Industrial Estate.
Bennetts Water Gardens, Chickerell Link Road, Weymouth. Tel: 01305 785150.