Hey all, how are you doing? It’s a little damp out there and I don’t about you, but when it’s cold and grey (Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD exists, I tell you!), this Derby foodie tend’s to go into hibernation mode.
If you fancy an afternoon pick me up to recharge those sluggish sad batteries, get yourself down to The Lavender Tea Rooms pronto. Based on a busy high street in Bakewell, the tea rooms set over two floors can be found nestled in an olde worlde courtyard.
Offering a selection of afternoon teas, breakfast and lunch, you know you’ve reached somewhere special as soon as you enter. The décor is fabulously flamboyant and cosy kitsch with a touch of retro. Hanging artwork is charmingly eclectic as a bag of Skittles, leaving very little bare wall space to make the most of the owner’s very obvious love for art.
We were seated promptly near the entrance at a quaintly furnished table. The usual afternoon tea paraphernalia took pole position, ranging from vintage bone china crockery and polished silver condiment pots to antique cutlery. The scene was beautifully set and a wonderful precursor for what was to follow – a veritable feast for the eyes and stomach.
Just a word of advice – if ordering the Afternoon Tea Deluxe – ensure you go on an empty stomach. A five tier tray filled with delicious pastries and crust-less sandwiches was placed with great care in the centre of our table.
From a range of cheese with pickle, smoked salmon with cream cheese, and tomato with chutney finger sandwiches, the Derbyshire ham and mustard pairing stood out for me. Why? The ham was meaty, thickly sliced, beautifully salty and positively moreish, making for one of the best sandwiches I have ever eaten.
The smoked salmon was a close runner up, due to the earthy smokiness of the generously filled sandwiches. With a good pastry selection to boot which included an addictive coffee and walnut cake (the frosting was pure heaven), serving the famous eponymously named dessert was expected. The Bakewell Tart was scrummy, the pastry crumbly and on the right side of short, and the sponge cake filling delectably light. The fist-sized scone (we’re talking Rocky proportions here) was an absolute whopper and delight to eat. Served with pots of creamy clotted cream and zingy jam, eating this giant of a scone kept me quiet for at least five minutes (no mean feat considering talking is one of my favourite pastimes right after writing).
Now, there is always a different vibe in afternoon tea places and The Lavender Tea Rooms is no exception. There was a hushed silence with conversation being spoken in muted tones, just out of sheer reverence for the very ritual of afternoon tea. There were couples enjoying dates, a bunch of girlfriends catching up over coffee and of course, yours truly drinking in the delicious atmosphere and steaming hot tea and coffee.
Just a little note for Lavender Tea Rooms and all the other eateries of Bakewell who close bang on 5pm. Would you possibly consider extending your opening times to cater for those clueless tourist types who don’t know any better than to roll into your café at 4:30pm? I passed two groups loitering outside who were keen for a bite to eat but were disappointed at the 5pm closing time.
Overall it was a great afternoon tea, a lovely dining experience and one that features in my Top Ten Afternoon Teas from across the country.
Star Rating 1-10 (1: “I hate it, I’d rather eat my own shoe” to 10: “I’d pillage for a meal here”.)
Value for money: 8
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Afternoon Tea Deluxe: £19.95 per person.
Address: Hebden Court, Matlock St, Bakewell, Derbyshire DE45 1EE. Tel: 01629 814466
*This review first appeared in The Derbyshire Guardian*