LOOKING for a lunch venue on a day off work that was proving to be busier than when I'm actually at my desk, I decided to investigate a venue that I've driven past countless times, but never tried out.

Hair cut done, grocery shopping completed and garden water butt installed, I headed along the A172 to The Orangery café and bistro at Busby, just outside Stokesley.

The Orangery is no ordinary hospitality venue – it's based at JPC Community Farm, founded by the inspirational Julie and Paul Connaughton, whose son James has complex disabilities. The farm provides accommodation and training for adults with special needs, and the café is a central hub for those living or visiting, as well as a training facility for SEN students to allow them to further develop their everyday skills.

Profits from The Orangery go back into the farm, and on the day of my visit, there was a busy hum about the place as I entered. Julie was greeting customers, and after I asked if I could sit outside to make the most of what little sunshine this particular summer is offering at present, she rushed off to bring a table from elsewhere as all the outdoor tables were taken. Nothing was too much trouble.

The menu offers breakfasts up until 11.30am, and brunch options such as American pancakes, omelettes and garlic mushroom sourdough. There's a choice of salads, and heartier lunches including beer battered fish and chips, ploughmans and a chicken parmo (all priced £12.95).

Feeling in early afternoon lunch mode rather than full-on meal mode, I ordered an Orangery club sandwich (£9.95), pot of tea (£1.50) and glass of tap water, and sat back to enjoy both the sunshine, and the view of the Cleveland Hills peeping through the trees.

Eating alone does give the opportunity for "accidentally" overhearing the conversations of other diners, and I had high hopes for my lunch after hearing fellow customers describing the excellence of the fish and chips they'd just devoured.

When my triple-decker sandwich arrived, accompanied by fries and side salad, the size of the plateful provoked chuckles from other tables, who asked who else was joining me. As it turned out, if you've eaten nothing since your 7am Weetabix, after chasing around doing jobs all morning, by 1.30pm, it's fairly easy to polish off an Orangery portion.

The salad was fresh and how I like it (unfussy with a simple dressing and minimal onion) and the fries, which go into a small space, piping hot. The sandwich was a triumph, with juicy chicken, crispy bacon and just the right amount of lettuce and tomato. On the menu a fried egg was also included, but I asked for mine to come without, and I didn't feel it was lacking for the omission.

Despite my tea coming out well before the sandwich, the combination of the sun and thick teapot meant (glory be) it was perfectly brewed and still hot by the time I got round to it. In truth, I could have sat there all afternoon and soaked up more tea, sunshine and positivity from both the other customers, and the cheery, chatty staff, but more day-off life-admin was on the cards.

Payment was taken by card at the table, with the final bill of £11.45 providing excellent value for the quality and quantity of food.

Having sent friends the obligatory "look at me having a great time" selfie to try and make them jealous for being at work while I wasn't, one was inspired to pay a visit of her own the next day with her daughters, choosing from the pancake menu, and reporting back similar excellence.

From start to finish, my hour or so at The Orangery was wonderful – from the service, to the food, to the friendliness of all concerned. I have no doubt I'll be back, with more time, and an even bigger appetite.

The Orangery café bistro

Off the A172 near Stokesley


Telephone: 01642 432026

Website: www.theorangeryjpc.com

Booking advised for Sunday lunches

Ratings (out of ten): Food quality 9 Service 9 Surroundings 9 Value 10