Dunston Hall garden centre is on the outskirts of Chesterfield. We had visited once when we first moved here but found the café a bit fuddy-duddy and had never returned. Thankfully it’s just had a significant makeover. This includes a beautiful new coffee shop/bistro, complete with a lovely children’s play area.
There’s extensive outside seating, plenty of which directly overlooks the play area so it’s a perfect family friendly destination for a coffee and cake or a light meal. The play equipment is brand new, and housed on lovely soft bark. It also enjoys a wonderful view over the surrounding countryside. It really is a very pleasant place to be. The play area is enclosed and completely separate from the car park. Obviously it’s parents’ responsibility to supervise children but it felt very safe.
We visited at midday on a sunny-ish Sunday and they were really quite busy. We hadn’t reserved but they managed to find us a table near the play area but I got the impression that booking was advisable and I’ll do that in future.
The man who seated us and who seemed to be in charge of the waiting staff was lovely, really personable and friendly – and he returned a couple of times to check we were ok and have a little banter. The rest of the waiting staff were very young. They were all very polite and helpful but overall service was a bit slow and disorganised. Hopefully teething issues that will resolve themselves as the team becomes more established.
We had only intended going for a coffee but once we saw the menu (and realising our daughter would be happily entertained for a good hour or so) we decided to have a spot of lunch. We both ordered from the ‘snacks’ section of the menu. I had the halloumi in panko breadcrumbs which was beautifully cooked and perfectly crispy. I found the accompanying beetroot houmous a little bit bland, but overall it was nice dish and a million times better than an average soft play place’s menu. My husband ordered the chargrilled chicken skewer which was served with a really generous portion of red cabbage slaw and a ramekin of mint yogurt. We shared a bowl of chips and they were evidently hand cut and homemade. We didn’t actually look at the children’s menu but I gather there is one. My coffee was also really nice. In fact, it’s the best coffee I’ve had at a garden centre around Chesterfield. I’ve attached a photo of the menu as I struggled to find one online prior to our visit.
There’s lots of free car parking at Dunston Hall garden centre. It’s not immediately clear how you access the bistro – we found it by walking all through the garden centre and then entering via a door just after the tills.
Overall we really enjoyed our visit and I will definitely return. (Edit: I have returned, many times – read an updated review here!). I always really appreciate finding somewhere nice where you can get a good quality coffee and decent food that provides some entertainment for my daughter, and this is a gem of a place!