Afternoon Tea at Jesmond Dene House

October 23, 2018

Afternoon Tea is often thought of as a ‘London tradition’ – from The Ritz to The Savoy, if you visit the capital, it’s often a must-do.  How wonderful then, to see an exceptional Afternoon Tea being served a good 200 miles from the smoke, at the beautiful Grade II listed boutique hotel and restaurant – Jesmond Dene House.

Afternoon Tea was invented by Queen Victoria’s lifelong friend Anna the 7th Duchess of Bedford who used it to bridge the long gap between breakfast and late dinner in the early 19th Century.  How fitting then, that Jesmond Dene House, a 19th Century mansion house, and now an independent boutique hotel, is serving up such a beautiful offering, carefully curated by their new Head Pastry Chef Cal Byerley.

Cal – formerly of the Michelin starred Forest Side, has created a stunning three course serving of Afternoon Tea which can be enjoyed in the conservatory of this beautifully grand Georgian house, overlooking the mansion’s al fresco terrace and surrounded by greenery, plants, trees and nature.

With the last rays of late summer shining through the glass and reflecting off the cutlery which had been laid on crisp linen table cloths, the perfect start to Afternoon Tea was with a glass of beautifully cold and bubbly Collet Brut Reserve Champagne.  With tea and coffee poured, we didn’t have to wait long before our pretty tiered cake stand landed, loaded with layers of tasty treats.

We dug in to savouries on the bottom layer first – with turkey, black truffle and lettuce on white bread, refreshing oak smoked salmon with cucumber and dill cream cheese on wholemeal and the lightest of spring onion and goat’s cheese quiche.  We loved the mild flavour, the light texture and the perfect pastry which encased it.  There were also hearty chunks of sausage roll with fennel and black onion seed which were extremely filling!  At this point, we did wonder how we might fit in the next couple of courses!

On to the middle tier and an absolute delight of sweet and savoury scones.  The scones were beautifully light and fluffy, with the cheese being my favourite,  Whipped butter and sweet onion marmalade was the perfect accompaniment to the cheese.  We smothered the fruit scone, which was equally delicious with lashings of clotted cream and punchy home made jam, feeling very guilty at the decadence of it all…

At this point, we had to take a break!  Defeated at the first two hurdles, but adamant that we’d make it to the top layer – the most beautifully presented layer consisting of eclairs, carrot cake, macarons and brownie.

We took more tea – and there’s plenty of it!  The loose tea selection includes the traditional English Breakfast, through to Lapsang Souchong, Himalayan Darjeeling, and Birds of Paradise to name just a few.  There’s something wonderfully calming and relaxing about the ritual of Afternoon Tea – especially when you’re pouring the tea straight from the teapot, through the tea strainer which catches all of the loose leaves and into the quaint little tea cup.

Around an hour after we’d started digging into our first sandwich, I felt ready to tackle the top layer.  We started with the spiced carrot cake, an idyllic balance of flavours with the tiniest of spice, mille-feuilled with rich cream cheese and topped with a quiff of Sea Buckthorn – very ‘on trend’!

Once the mm’s, ooh’s and aah’s had subsided, we moved on to chocolate and orange macaron – that wonderful texture, with a shiny as velvet coating and a sweet centre.

My favourite was our next choice – the caramelised white chocolate eclair which was simply divine.  We karate chopped the eclair into two, along with the most amazing layer of fudge which ran the length of the eclair and also provided the base for the prettiest raspberry, cream and fresh flower decoration.  The layered dark chocolate and pistachio was the perfect, lavish finish to a wonderful selection of cakes and pastries.

With covers reaching the hundreds, now that Cal has breathed new life into Afternoon Tea at Jesmond Dene House, it’s advisable that you book.  Get ready for the ultimate Afternoon Tea experience, whether you decide to go for the cocktail, prosecco or champagne offering, you’re in very, very good hands.  (Priced from £25pp to £37.50pp)

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Written by Luxuria Lifestyle UK’s Ashleigh Whitfield

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