The Fourteas

DT@The Fourteas-Stratford#2

It’s hard to know where to have a Cream Tea in Stratford-upon-Avon, because there are so many places to choose from. I can’t go past The Fourteas, a 1940s themed tea room. It’s quirky and celebrates a decade that to me is best remembered for World War II. There are all sorts of war memorabilia, Union Jack flags abound, and there’s even an air raid shelter in the large private garden out the back. It’s too chilly for sitting outside today, so we cosy up with fellow diners at street level (there are rooms upstairs) inside. Wait staff help set the mood by getting about in 1940s garb, while tunes to the likes of the Andrew Sisters play discreetly in the background. Menus are ‘Ration Books’, but there is nothing ration-like about it with plenty to choose from. There’s a selection of fruit and plain scones served warm or cold, and for those with a particular food intolerance, wheat free cheese scones, and wheat and dairy free fruit scones are available. I choose a warm plain scone that’s neither light and fluffy nor heavy, but instead, is fresh, wholesome and homemade. The clotted cream is superb, and the fruity strawberry jam is well above average. The tea room is quality, fun, and with just the right amount of kitsch.

Scones:  

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A great selection of Green Monkey Tea Company loose-leaf teas served in a good-sized pot. An egg timer arrives along with the tea, so you know when your pot is ready to go.

Price: £5.20

Overall: A cool vintage-themed tea room with a 40s spin.

Location: 24 Sheep St, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6EF Ph: +44 1789 293908 thefourteas.co.uk
 
Reviewed in October, 2015
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Quickly’s

DT@Quicklys Cafe-Stratford-Upon-Avon#

In Stratford-Upon-Avon, as far as cafes go, Quickly’s is as close to the house where William Shakespeare was born and lived as you can get. It’s literally across the paved ‘pedestrian only’ road in the heart of the pretty 16th-century medieval market town. Only a couple of hours drive north-west of London, the town sees lots of visitors keen to follow in the footsteps of one of the most famous writers in the English language. The Royal Shakespeare Company also holds performances of William’s celebrated plays both in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and adjacent Swan Theatre that sit on the banks of the River Avon. With so many visitors in town, expect a plethora of eateries to choose from, especially those serving scones. Though the question is whether you can get a table? Quickly’s has a sign out front enticing passersby in for a cream tea. It’s large and spacious but not big on atmosphere. The fruit scones are homemade, not mass-produced and delivered to multiple establishments (like I’ve seen in London), and are quite heavy and filling. The cream tea spreads only likeness to many other establishments is the stock standard jar of Tiptree strawberry jam and the container of Rodda’s clotted cream. If it’s warm, pull up a pew outside and contemplate Shakepeare’s life.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A small choice of Twining tea bags served in an elegant looking teapot.

Price: £4.60

Overall: The ideal viewpoint to admire Shakespeare’s former home.

Location: 60 Henley St, Stratford-upon-Avon UK CV37 Ph: +44 1789 262189
Reviewed in October, 2015

Clarence Brasserie & Tea Room

DT@Clarence Brasserie & Tea Room#2

Queen Elizabeth apparently spends most weekends at Windsor Castle, with a longer stint around Easter, and uses the castle to host events to impress out-of-towners, dignitaries that is, although she does a good job on us commoners as well. For almost 1,000 years, the castle has been home to British Monarchs and is considered to be the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world. Plan to arrive mid morning in time for the crowd-pleasing ‘Changing of the Guards’ performance in the castle grounds at 11am (but remember everyone is planning to do the same thing). Afterwards, let the audio guide bring the St George’s Chapel and the lavish State Apartments to life, but be sure to linger and absorb the history and the extensive art collection along the way. Besides all the royal pomp and imposing castle, Windsor offers a pleasant village vibe, and because of its daily dose of curious visitors, is not short on eateries and tourist tat. After considering the choice, I settle on Clarence Brasserie & Tea Room, which happens to be in coo-ee of the castle. There’s plenty of seating inside, but considering that it’s a warm autumnal day, everyone is outside and making the most of the sunshine. Warm scones – this is a first for me in the UK! Unfortunately these fruit scones are microwaved so taste and feel water-logged. The fruity raspberry jam is above average and the cream tastes like double thick rather than clotted cream. Overall, sitting out in the cobbled laneway in fine weather with Windsor Castle as a not-so-distant backdrop, is pretty cool.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A small choice of Novus pyramid tea bags served in a cute teapot.

Price: £6.95

Overall: A prime location, and only a two-minute walk to Windsor Castle.

Location: 8-9 Church St, Windsor, West Berkshire SL4 1PE Ph: +44 1753 852707 clarencebrasserie.co.uk
Reviewed in October, 2015

Tea and Tattle

DT@Tea & Tattle#2

The Tea and Tattle, is a traditional tea room boasting the most affordable quality afternoon tea this side of the Thames. Considering it’s location opposite the British Museum in the Bloomsbury area of London, there’s probably some truth to that. Housed in the basement of the Arthur Probsthain Bookstore, you could say that the tea room has a captured audience, and that’s before the overspill from the British Museum (if they run out of scones at their own café). Established in 1903, the bookstore was once known for it’s vast library of books that were piled high, filling every inch of space in the store. Nowadays, it’s less on books with the addition of music, film and gifts as well as an Oriental and African art gallery. I’m alone, as my partner has opted to remain lost in the bowels of the Museum while I explore Tea and Tattle. Luckily I get the only table left. It’s not ideal, squeezed against a wall near the cafe’s semi-office? Space is tight and every table filled. I hate to say it but the service has a ‘tourist tired’ feel. It may just be my imagination, but perhaps some of the staff have had a long day? My scone arrives swiftly, ready-made and ready to go. The cold but tasty plain scone (unusual for England as they seem to be big on fruit scones) arrives halved and dressed with my chosen raspberry vanilla jam. It’s rich and fruity, one of the best I’ve had. Along with this one, there are three other jams and a marmalade to choose from, which all sound equally interesting and delicious: Bramble and Bramley, Damson, Strawberry and Black Pepper. The cream is clotted and spread on the scone with jam on top like a true Devon Cream Tea (Cornish Cream Teas are served with the jam on the bottom, like most Australians eat theirs).

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A good selection of tea. The menu states that it is loose-leaf, but I see no evidence as the tea arrives in the teapot with no tea leaves or tea bag.

Price: £5.90

Overall: Super popular and cosy, and in a handy location.

Location: 41 Great Russell St, London WC1B 3PE Ph: +44 7722 192703 apandtea.co.uk
 
Reviewed in October, 2015

The Cellarium Cafe and Terrace

DT@Cellarium Cafe & Terrace-Westminster Abbey#

Westminster Abbey is without a doubt the most well known church in Britain. Even the massive queue and £20 admission fee can’t keep visitors at bay. The sheer scale and architecture, extensive history, and the fact that there are 3,300 people buried or commemorated here is extraordinary. Although the construction of the present church didn’t begin until 1245, there has been a church of some sorts at this London address since the middle of the 10th century. Since 1066 the Abbey has seen 16 royal weddings, countless coronations of English and British monarchs, and is the final resting place of 17 of them. To truly experience all that the Abbey has to offer, you’ll need at least a couple of hours, and then some more time at The Cellarium Cafe and Terrace just to regroup. Although set on two floors, with outdoor seating in the summer months, I only see the lower level of the cafe that’s near the kitchen, not realising that there’s more. Although I do find it rather peculiar that there’s no terrace – not one that I can see. Originally, the Cellarium was used to store food and drink for the monks. Now it’s a quiet and relaxing place that’s an ideal bolthole far away from the madding Abbey crowds where you can absorb the wealth of information from the audio guide. Expect to share large tables when busy and even though there’s a steady stream of diners, the service is unmistakably slack. The small jar of Tiptree jam is a cafe staple, well it seems so in London, and the clotted cream is as it should be – clotted. The fruit scones are very average and surprisingly dry, but you hardly notice it with the jam and clotted cream piled on top. It’s a shame, as everything else, including the pretty tea ware, is lovely.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A small selection of loose-leaf teas served in a lovely teapot.

Price: £7.50

Overall: The ideal location to recharge before hitting the streets of London.

Location: Westminster Abbey, 20 Dean Farrar St, Westminster SW1P 3PA Ph: +44 20 7222 0516
Reviewed in October, 2015