Nestled behind the trees, plants and flowers of Jesmond Dene, sits a grand house which offers up delicious afternoon teas. Over the Easter Weekend, we thought we would try some for ourselves.
As we walked through the house to the dining area, Spring seemed to burst from every seam – from the sun pouring through the windows, to the tulips sitting prettily on the table, the place oozed lightness and charm. Easter Saturday was a busy afternoon, with many guests already enjoying afternoon tea. We booked several months in advance to get a table.
A strong selection of teas were available on the menu as well as filter coffee for the less traditional afternoon tea goers. There were also a choice of cocktails to complement the afternoon tea including a particularly tempting ‘Lemon Drizzle Bomb.’ We went classic and chose to have the champagne afternoon tea. I chose Darjeeling – a light tea grown in the Himalayas described as ‘elegant.’ My boyfriend chose the Earl Grey grown in China.
When the tower of treats arrived, the first thing I noticed was the colour. Pops of yellows, reds and whites as well as gorgeously glazed hot cross buns adorned the three tier cake stand. I felt like Augustus Gloop in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, wanting to dive straight in. But I sipped my tea and pretended that I was refined.
The selection of sandwiches were twists on classics: Ham & Picallilly (with lovely thick cut ham), Salmon & Cucumber, Cheese & Pickle and Chicken & Pesto. All crustless and classic. The real joy for me, however, came in the sweet layers. The thick clotted cream and a choice of strawberry or raspberry jam complemented the cheese and fruit scones perfectly and the hot cross bun was a tasty Easter addition, oozing with currents.
The Darjeeling and champagne washed the sugar down nicely. I moved on to the top layer and wow did I save the best for last! The rhubarb and vanilla cheesecake was served in a shot glass and topped with the crispiest yet softest meringue I’ve tasted. It looked almost too good to eat, but we did, and it tasted like summer in a shot. We then moved on to the lemon sponge. If the cheesecake was summer in a shot, this was Easter in a wedge (doesn’t quite have the same ring to it but we’ll go with it.) This slice of sunshine with a crispy mini egg packed a delicious punch. Rich, tarty and fresh, it was an excellent cake to end with.
The only downside was that we couldn’t finish it all, but as our lovely waiter, Chris, informed us, anything we couldn’t eat could be packaged up for us to take home.
As we strolled through the dene clutching our carefully packaged white chocolate and cherry macaroons and chocolate financier, we gave our champagne afternoon tea and ten out of ten and looked forward to more sweet treats in front of the telly later on.