There’s something to be said for tradition. While we’ve seen afternoon teas with a twist popping up everywhere (and we’ll not lie, we love them), nothing quite beats the quintessential sandwiches, cakes, and scones that we picture when we think of this mid-afternoon treat. And thankfully, the team at Boringdon Hall agree with us. While they’ve recently featured themes like a Winnie the Pooh afternoon tea, they’re about to launch a brand new Traditional Boringdon Hall Afternoon Tea that’s got us all excited. So we headed along for a sneak peak to see what the fuss is about.
In terms of luxury, it doesn’t come much better than Boringdon Hall. Sitting just on the gorgeous Dartmoor National Park, this 16th century manor house has been converted into a beautiful hotel with all the modern trimmings. They’re renowned for being a great place to stay, but for us, the food is what really makes them stand out. The Gallery restaurant has 3 AA Rosettes, they boast a modern brasserie, and people travel for miles for their afternoon teas.
Which is what we’d travelled along for. Served in The Great Hall, afternoon tea isn’t just a meal here, it’s an experience. The high ceilings of the room, with comfortable wing-back chairs, and imposing portraits make you feel like you’re one of its illustrious past guests. (Word is Queen Elizabeth stayed here at one point.) The staff are friendly without being overbearing and they really know their stuff when it comes to the huge choice of afternoon tea menus, offering options of gluten free and vegan for those who have dietary differences.
It was the brand new Traditional Afternoon Tea we were here to try, so we ordered and settled in to enjoy the surroundings. It soon appeared, with tea served in a little teapot, and what my Grandma would call “proper china.” We oohed and aahed at the cakes, the pistachio and raspberry macaroon immediately catching our eye.
We decided that since it was a “Traditional Afternoon Tea”, we’d be traditional and start with the savoury dishes. No teeny selection of dry sandwiches here though, the cucumber, ham, and chicken caesar ones we were treated to were served on the fluffiest of breads, with plenty of filling; yum! There were also crab blinis with curried emulsion and coriander that provided just the right amount of luxury. Mediterranean vegetable tart was packed with flavour, and the homemade sausage roll was crumbly and flakey, bringing back tasty childhood memories.
But the cakes. Oh the cakes. Plain and fruit scones (are scones cakes? We say they are…) were still warm and the accompanying strawberry preserve and clotted cream were lovely. Thankfully, the pistachio and raspberry macaroon that I’d been salivating over didn’t disappoint, and was definitely on a level with the macarons I’ve eaten in lovely Parisian patisseries. “Gateux Opera” was next to be devoured, the chocolate ganache enveloping it too shiny to be ignored. Carrying on in the super-rich (yet delicious) vein was the hazelnut tiffin with praline creamaux, which was quite frankly, ridiculous. If they had just brought me a plate of those, I’d have been happy; soft yet crunchy, nutty and creamy, it was my favourite part of the meal. Finishing up with a palate-cleansing St Clement’s tart, we were barely able to move by the end.
Throughout the whole meal, our waitress was lovely, regularly checking if we needed more tea, or if we were enjoying our food, without being overbearing. And all of this for just £27 per person. As we gathered ourselves to leave, we were pretty happy to hear that Boringdon Hall has an afternoon tea gift card: simply pick up a card from reception, collect your stamps, and after nine visits you get a gift.