Traditional afternoon teas have made a huge comeback in recent years and you can now sample them in a host of settings, from hotels to restaurants and in the most modern of settings. But it is always wonderful to find a place which takes you back to a time when tea was served in a parlour, in a real china cup, and cakes came stacked up on beautiful stands. The Old School Tea Rooms in Essington do just that.
Since it was launched earlier this year, The Parlour at The Old School Tea Rooms have been a resounding success, offering an Afternoon Tea which is great value (just £11 per person), along with the refined ambiance of the Edwardian Era. Entering the Tea Parlour is like taking a step back into the time of Edward VII, with the shabby chic of mismatched china cups and teapots, walls lined with vintage photographs and paintings and an elegant chaise longue taking pride of place. Classical music plays quietly in the background to add to the mood, and the no-children rule just adds to the atmosphere that this is a very grown up experience, one where you can sit, relax and chat with friends whilst enjoying some gorgeous food. And I do mean gorgeous.
The Afternoon tea is made up of all the traditional components. There are crustless sandwiches which come with a variety of fillings, from ham and cream cheese to cheese and pickle. These were all delicious, and diners are encouraged to ask for more if they require them. I can confirm that my savoury mad husband Peter did, and received another plate full of cheese and pickle very quickly. We were also asked if we would like a salad bowl with our sandwiches. I declined, but Pete accepted, and a small side salad was presented in a china bowl – a really nice touch.
Of course, as fabulous as the sandwiches are, afternoon tea is all about cakes, and I have to say that I truly enjoyed the cake selection. As well as the usual scones and petit fours, The Old School Tea Rooms always has a home-made cake selection, one which changes daily. On this occasion I was thrilled to find one of the choices was my favourite cake, Coffee and Walnut. This was as soft and moist as it could be, with a delicious coffee cream icing on the top. The second choice was equally delicious, a delightful Lemon Drizzle cake which was light, with just the right amount of zesty lemon to make this a real citrus treat.
I was really pleased with the amount of cream and jam that we were given with our scones. So often lately Jam has been a tiny pot, but here the jam and cream came on beautiful vintage glass plates that totally fitted the era that is being recreated – another lovely touch. I also loved that the tea came in a beautiful china pot, with the first cup poured by our waitress Tammy, all lovely aspects to the whole experience.
We had a lovely time at The Old School Tea Rooms. The food was lovely, and the service was impeccable, particularly from our waitress Tammy, who was efficient and professional whilst remaining warm and friendly. The Old School Tea Rooms are a little gem, perfect for hen parties, celebrating birthdays, or just enjoying a catch up in beautiful surroundings with added cake!
Booking is advisable – please visit The Old School Tea Rooms Facebook page for further information.
With thanks to Diane Huntbatch, Dee Clift and all the staff of The Old School Tea Rooms.