The venue was chosen for us as Jay had been given an afternoon tea voucher as a Christmas present. We had been looking forward to it for a while as our last afternoon tea was back in August of last year (click here for details). We originally wanted to book for Sunday 21st February but it was full, suggesting that it must be a popular choice.
Wednesday, 24 February 2016
Afternoon Tea at Netherstowe House 19th February 2016
Reviewed by Dee
Our 2016 Afternoon Tea trail kicked off with a visit to Netherstowe House, located near to Lichfield down a leafy lane just off a main road. The signs appear quickly, so visitors would be well advised to look out for them while traveling along the A5192. We hadn’t heard of it before so I decided to check up on the history of the venue.
It was built in the Twelfth Century, and was used first as a mill, then a domestic residence before being converted just over five years ago into the hotel and restaurant that it is now.
We were welcomed on arrival by uniformed staff, who showed us to a lounge area, where we waited while our table was prepared. Inside, the venue was decked out in an early 1900s style, featuring lots of old fashioned pictures, hats, umbrellas and something called a Fitzroy Storm Glass, which Jay got very excited about.
While waiting in the lounge, we were handed drinks menus which included a number of wines, spirits and cocktails. In keeping with the interior décor the menus were decorated in an elegant Art Deco style.
The cocktails proved too tempting to resist, and we chose a couple of non-alcoholic options, namely an English Rose and a Heavenly Days. The first certainly lived up to its name, being a sherberty sweet mixture of lemonade and rose water garnished with dried rose petals. The second was a far subtler mix of grenadine, sparkling water and hazelnut syrup. We shared the cocktails between the two of us and enjoyed both of them very much. They provided a great start to the afternoon.
Once our table was ready we were led from the lounge through a winding corridor, off which were several smaller rooms where the afternoon teas were served. The venue looked to be doing a brisk trade, and there were already two other parties of guests in the room where our table was.
The venue offers a number of afternoon tea menus, including an ‘English Country Garden’ themed menu featuring cakes served in flower pots, which the party on the table next to ours had ordered. We chose the Traditional menu though.
The tea menu offered all of the familiar favourites, plus a range of flowering green teas which were served in heatproof glasses. I chose Darjeeling while Jay went for Earl Grey. Our teas were loose leaf rather than bags, and arrived in transparent tea pots. Refills were offered at no extra cost but we found one pot each to be plenty.
The food was served on the traditional three-tier stand with cakes at the top, scones in the middle and sandwiches at the bottom. In addition, a pair of lemon possets were served in a bowl containing lemon-scented dry ice, which fortunately we were just able to catch on camera before it disappeared.
The sandwiches were Egg Mayonnaise, Chicken Caesar, Ham & Mustard, Cheese & Tomato and Smoked Salmon on an Oatcake Biscuit. The Chicken Caesar was probably our favourite, with its rich garlic sauce, but we also enjoyed the smoked salmon and oatcake biscuit. There was a nice variety in presentation, with some sandwiches arriving as small brown bread triangles and others as white fingers.
The scones were small in size, and there were two of the fruited variety and two plain. We were surprised to be asked if we wanted clotted cream with them; I wonder if anyone has ever turned this offer down? Initially we thought the scones were too small as we’re both big scone fans, but later we were grateful as we would have been over faced if we’d had larger ones. They were well baked, being nice and crumbly without disintegrating as soon as a knife touched them. Small jars of Tiptree Strawberry Jam were served with the scones and they were accompanied on the middle tier by small square of syrupy yet very lightly textured pineapple upside down cake garnished with a raspberry.
All of the cakes on the top tier were of a high quality, and consisted of a Lemon Macaron, Chocolate Delice and a Rolled Chocolate Sponge filled with White Chocolate Mousse.
We tucked into the Lemon Possets just before the cakes, and loved the layered effect created with extra soft meringue with singed top, sweet strawberry jam in the middle and the sharp, tangy lemon cream at the bottom.
I’m not a huge lover of macarons. I see them as style over content and more about colour than taste but this one was pleasant enough. It had a slight bite to the outside with a soft inside and exceptionally light lemon cream filling..
The Delice was served topped with banana cream, so I had to remove this and add it to mine before Jay would touch it. Once that was sorted, we both enjoyed the combination of velvety, rich, dark chocolate and crunchy biscuit.
Finally the Sponge/Mousse Roll was a light but creamy sweet treat with small bits of white chocolate left in to add a small variation in texture.
The total cost of food, tea and cocktails was just shy of £50, which we both felt was very reasonable. We liked the venue a lot, and felt well looked after by the polite and friendly staff.
In conclusion, we had a very enjoyable afternoon and would happily visit again.