Why the Orangery Tea Room serves the 'perfect' savoury afternoon tea
- Credit: The Orangery Tea Room
She is a self-confessed afternoon tea addict, but when reviewer Donna-Louise Bishop spotted a delicious-looking savoury offering from The Orangery Tea Room, in Ketteringham, she decided it might be time to branch out.
It is said that a picture paints a thousand words, so when a mouth-watering photograph of a savoury afternoon tea popped up on my Instagram feed, I knew I had to try it.
Just a 15-minute drive from Norwich city centre, and tucked away in the stunning grounds of the historic Ketteringham Hall, is the home of The Orangery Tea Room.
Although closed at the moment, because of coronavirus restrictions, the team has been offering a selection of take-away choices and is due to start a soft re-opening of this service from Saturday, February 20. I pre-ordered the savoury afternoon tea well in advance (48 hours in advance is requested) - and was given decent instructions on where to come and what the procedure on collection would be. On arrival, I got lost trying to find the entrance but followed another person – socially distanced, of course – who was happy to show me the way.
The lady who served us was friendly and personable and followed all the safety guidelines. She also suggested that I might enjoy my food with a lovely bottle of red wine once I got home. And even though it came with some delicious loose tea (we picked Earl Grey and English Breakfast) placed into individual tea bags, who was I to argue with a culinary expert? Thank goodness wine is a staple in my household.
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On first impressions, the savoury afternoon tea was beautifully presented in a box with a little menu card tucked into the ribbon at the top. It helpfully explained everything we were about to devour, and it felt like the longest drive ever to get home.
The menu card advised putting the oven on first for the whole Camembert, and we waited patiently while it heated up. Just enough time to boil the kettle, or in my case, find the bottle opener. After 11 minutes, we also popped in the bread to heat through. We were more than ready to eat at this point.
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We started with the Camembert, which was really oozy and creamy. Dunking in chunks of the deliciously fresh bread was incredibly satisfying and I’m not sure if it was just us being greedy or not, but we really could have done with one each. We used our side dish of roasted peppers with this too.
Next, we moved on to the freshly baked sausage rolls. These had the perfect ratio of filling to flaky and golden pastry, and had a really nice flavour running through the sausage meat. Then the red onion and goat's cheese tartlet with rocket packed a punch with its rich flavours nicely complementing each other. Again, it had a lovely balance and all the flavours worked well together.
While I had a bit of a breather from the more filling foods, I snacked on the beetroot hummus and crackers. I’m a massive fan of hummus, but I had never tried the beetroot flavoured variety before. It was mild in taste but still pleasant with a smooth texture.
We could not wait much longer to try the freshly baked cheese scones, served with butter, whipped goat's cheese, and chilli jam – and it did not disappoint. The cheese ran right through the middle of the scones, which made them sing. They were fresh and not stodgy or dry at all. Finally, for the last of the savoury part, we devoured some delicate and extremely delicious cheese and herb shortbread. They tasted exactly how they were described, and were an absolute experience to eat.
At this point, I decided not to refill my wine but to enjoy a flavoursome cuppa alongside the homemade sweet treats of chocolate brownie and custard cream blondie bites. They were the perfect finale to a practically perfect meal. In fact, as my first ever savoury afternoon tea experience, I must say that it has set the bar rather high for my next one.
In total, the savoury afternoon tea for two was £39.51. It should have come to £43.90, but they were running a discount of 10pc off. The ingredients were fresh and flavoursome and there was plenty to enjoy, so well worth the price and was also in keeping with the cost of other afternoon teas.
We enjoyed the loose tea packed up into individual tea bags. They gave us four in total, so we saved a bag each to enjoy with our breakfast the next morning.
The staff were incredibly friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful, and they adhered to all social distancing rules. Overall, it was a pleasant experience ordering and collecting our food.
The cheese and herb shortbread. Never again will normal (boring) shortbread hit the spot. I hope they make this a permanent fixture on the menu.
I do not have a single negative thing to say–and nor would I want to. I absolutely cannot wait until this tearoom can reopen so I can get the full experience of it. We have already promised friends we will take them here as soon as the door reopens. What a wonderful find. A word of caution though, do not follow them on Instagram if you do not want to feel hungry!
Our food reviews are always independent. They are the opinion of the reviewer based on their experience of the venue when they visited.
The establishment is not aware of our visit, is not informed we intend to write a review and bills are paid by the reviewer.
The choice of places reviewed is also independent and is not based on venues which do or do not advertise in our publications.
If you like that try these...
1. Heydon Tea Rooms, Heydon
Set in the beautiful and historic village of Heydon, the little tearoom has so much to offer. It is currently running a takeaway service, but it is worth a visit once its doors open. It also serves one of the prettiest–and tastiest–afternoon teas.
2. The Green Eatery, Opie Street, Norwich
Brought to you by the same people as Pizzaterian, this new venture serves Indian-inspired international food from the former Namaste India restaurant. The menu has a focus on stuffed pancakes.
3. The Folly Tearoom, Holt
Its garden is sprinkled with vintage romance and it is a perfect spot hidden away to escape from the stresses of life.
How you can support your favourite restaurant in lockdown:
Takeaways - While more places have opted to stay closed for the next few weeks, plenty are still open and offering takeaway meals for delivery or collection.
Vouchers - A valuable way to help businesses, you can buy yourself - or a loved one, as a gift - a voucher now to enjoy when it's safe to do so down the line.
Shop local - Make sure to support restaurant and pub suppliers, including beer, cheese and fruit and vegetables, by shopping local.
Social media - It's not an easy time for many people financially. A simple like on Facebook or follow on Instagram shows support for traders, though, and can help them build exposure.
Don't forget them when they reopen - It might feel like it, but this lockdown isn't forever, and our support should be consistent.
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