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The Great Bowden Stores

Heading to Market Harborough and need a steer on a cool laid-back, family-friendly café? Well you can't beat The Bowden Stores and here's why.

LOWDOWN

If you’ve not heard of Bowden Stores yet, where’ve you been? This cafe/coffee shop has been firing off all cylinders since it opened in late 2016. Located in, well…Great Bowden Market Harborough, it’s transformed the local village convenience store into something beautiful and modern while still retaining plenty of its original charm.

VIBE

I think it’s safe to say that the cafe feels like the heart and soul of the village and the exact opposite of what a village coffee shop usually looks like; ample space, high ceilings, communal tables – the Great Bowden Stores has really done things differently and it’s obviously working.

The view from the cosy nook upstairs and fresh flowers available to buy from The Paisley Flower Co.

It’s hard to believe that the original wooden beams were actually hidden behind a false ceiling – now it’s one of the many features that give the building its charm. Artificial plants have been draped over the beams and handing industrial pendants give the interior a quirky edge.

The open, airy space and soft colour palette made me think of eateries you’re more likely to find in a cool and trendy New York neighbourhood.

I loved the idea of the large communal table where people could gather together, eat and chat to each other – it also works brilliantly well for the supper/satay clubs they also host. There’s a little nook upstairs with a cosy sofa to sink into and back downstairs they’ve set up a little homewares shop selling everything from pillows to planters, plus gift cards, lush wrapping paper and stationery – it’s obvious owner Dominie has an eye for beautiful things.

It’s definitely got a family-friendly vibe, when I visited there were push chairs galore and high chairs are also available and recently they hosted a big mum’s and tots event that. At a glance, the menu doesn’t scream kid-friendly but they have a variety of mac and cheeses as well as a few sandwiches the kids could tuck into.

SCOFF/QUAFF

Bowden Stores is known for its brunches and I’ve seen so many dishes from here pop up on my Instagram feed – everything from their shakshuka to avocado smash, but I was here for lunch.

Here’s something you don’t know about me; I love a good sandwich – but don’t often eat them – and Bowden Stores do really good ones. There’s a little bit of everything from the classic fish finger (homemade cod fish fingers btw) to the more exotic like the Spritely Crab (fresh crayfish and crab). There’s also homemade soup, salads and sides.

So no surprise that I opted for a sandwich. I went for a simple homemade falafel one and picked the Moroccan flat bread which was the perfect choice. Usually,  I’m often miffed when I order falafels and they’re dry but these were perfect. The cool, coriander yoghurt was the perfect accompaniment to cut through the Moroccan flavoured chickpeas.

I also ordered a ‘Green Machine’ salad was it was well…errr very green as you can tell from the pic above. It was also light and fresh and that fantastic dressing made all the difference.

OUT & ABOUT

For a post-brunch or lunch walk, enjoy a leisurely stroll into Market Harborough where you can enjoy some retail therapy. You’ll find branches of Joules, Mint Velvet, Phase Eight as well as indie shop including Jacks for Women, Ada Gallery for beautiful jewellery, interiors store Bagel and Griff and many more.

The Muddy Verdict:

Good for: An early brunch or late lunch outing with the family or a pit stop for coffee and a bite whilst doing the rounds in Market Harborough and also a good place to pick up a gift or two.

Not for: I can’t imagine anyone not liking it here. If you’re not keen on sharing tables this isn’t the best place for you – the smaller tables get taken up quickly. If you like the idea of big slices of cake with coffee, you’ll probably have more luck elsewhere.

The damage: Good value for money and a great variety. Brunch starts from £4.95 for the Avocado Smash and lunch sandwiches from £6.95, salads are £5.95 there’s a variety of sides and daily specials too. Every Thursday evening from 6-9pm they have a pizza, prosecco and peroni menu with pizza starting from £9.95.

Bowden Stores, 3 The Green, Great Bowden, Market Harborough LE16 7EU

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