These days there are so many different twists on the great British afternoon tea, with permutations of this centuries old tradition available in every corner of the country.
And it might sound obvious but let’s face it, if you’re after something traditional and high in quality, then all you need is the right atmosphere (a beautiful location steeped in heritage) and a place that serves good food (where the chefs have a great pedigree). It’s that simple.
Morston Hall owned by chef Galton Blackiston, ticks both of these boxes. Not only has the restaurant been a holder of a Michelin Star since 1999, but also has three AA rosettes and many more accolades. Here, afternoon tea is either served by the log fire in the winter or outside in the walled garden during the summer. This Good Friday I took my folks for a belated Mother’s Day treat in the sun lounge of this beautiful 17th century hall, which is located just a short distance from Blakeney on the North Norfolk coast.
Afternoon tea is from 3.00pm till 5.00pm and is priced at £18.50 per person (advance bookings only and not generally possible on Sundays). It’s a small price to pay for the beautiful surroundings, locally-sourced produce, Michelin quality extra touches and the overall feeling of fullness you leave with as you climb into your car. It’s a mere snip when places such as the Ritz and Claridge’s charge around £50 per head. Give me the beautiful countryside any day of the week.
It was a feast of three tiers and extra plates of little goodies:
We devoured triple-decker sandwiches: Smoked salmon with cracked black pepper, cucumber and cream cheese and the third part was spread thickly with a beautifully-curried egg filling. It was a winning combo with a lovely texture. I didn’t think I’d eat all three, but it wasn’t as rich as I’d suspected it might be. For the veggie option, instead of salmon, there was local cheese with heritage pickled tomato chutney – along side the curried egg and cucumber with cream cheese.
To accompany the platter was a plate of lightly fried potato woven quail’s eggs. I have no words:
Served hot, these delicate treats felt like a bite-sized potato version of a crumbed scotch egg, creamy and delicate. Delicious paired with the sandwiches:
We then eagerly sunk our teeth into a small selection of cakes: Fruit cake with marzipan and icing and homemade raspberry jellies:
…and miniature classic meringues with clotted cream. They tasted just like an ice cream, only without the brain freeze.
A generous supply of homemade fruit scones with Morston Hall raspberry jam and clotted cream. You can’t see it very well in this picture but judging by the jam’s vibrant colour, I’d guess it was freshly made that week or day even:
Just when we though we’d finished, they brought us each a delicious custard egg tart with poached rhubarb and hazelnut crumble. My sweet highlight of the afternoon. The sweet, rich egginess of the filling was perfect with the light, melt-in-the-mouth pastry:
Washed down with English, Indian or Earl Grey tea or a selection of herbal and fruit teas – we opted for two pots of Assam (a deep amber tea with a rich and malty character from Northern India) and a pot of Darjeeling (a light golden tea, which has a character linked to the Muscatel grape from the Himalayas). For an extra £8.50, you can add a glass of champagne to your already lavish tea experience.
For more go to: www.morstonhall.com or call 01263 741041