Merry Christmas. A slightly more christmassy review from me this month. A festive lunch with a friend and her little one, combining afternoon tea with a visit to see Santa. Lucy lives further North, with me in the Midlands, so Chesterfield is a lovely mid way meeting place for us. As neither of us know the town all that well, it was a good old google search that led us to H&F Vintage Tea Rooms. When we first visited back in September, we were already planning our return visit, and Christmas, with the promise of seeing Santa, seemed the perfect opportunity.
The tea rooms are situated just a short distance from the main High Street. The aim of the owner, Louise, is to provide a haven of tea & cake, in a wonderfully laid back, step back in time style, atmosphere. Lovingly furnished with mis-matched vintage furniture, oversize fringed lampshades, and, accessorised with old reels as table numbers. It has a cosiness that invites you to get settled in for several pots of tea, numerous cups of coffee, whilst putting the world to rights with friends and family.
For tea lovers they have a range of loose-leaf teas; from the more traditional English Breakfast & Earl Grey, to the slightly more unusual Gunpowder Green Tea & the exotic sounding Keemun, described as having a chocolatey taste with slight smokiness. For Christmas they have a variety of Christmas teas too, perfect to accompany their freshly baked mince pies. Coffee lovers are well catered for, and Lucy’s little one gave the Hot Chocolate, which came topped with a mountain of marshmallows, a resounding thumbs up.
And onto the cakes. Gorgeous layer cakes, filled and topped with a varying variety of flavours. The cakes change each day, so you can never be quite sure what they’ll be. But with four types of brownie, three flavours of cheesecake, and a dizzying array of cakes, you may have a hard time deciding on just one. Oh, and then there’s the four types of scones; fruit, cheese, wholemeal, & cranberry and date. Not to mention that each drink comes with an accompanying biscuit on the side. This isn’t the place to come if you are giving up sugar / going on a diet.
Lucy and I opted for the Afternoon Tea, with fruit scones, a slightly rebellious choice of coffee, and Butterscotch cake for Lucy, Chai Latte for me. The little one had scrambled eggs on toast, which were wolfed down with the enthusiasm of someone who knows a brownie is waiting for her once she’d finished. We were a little more leisurely with our afternoon teas. Sandwiches were traditional in flavours; cheese, smoked salmon, egg and ham. Simple, but lovely. Scones were served with pots of jam & cream. I am possibly a little bit fussy when it comes to scones. These looked lovely, but I was a little disappointed as they were a little dry & crumbly. I’m not sure if this was the fault of the recipe, or if they’d not been baked fresh that day.
And it’s there that I had to admit defeat. Lucy battled on & the butterscotch cake was enjoyed with relish, as was the giddying sugar rush aftermath! My chai latte was boxed up for me to take home, and I’ll be tucking into it right after posting this. The winning brownie was the one topped with smarties, marshmallows and chocolate sweets. A very generous slab of a brownie, rich & indulgent, though no competition for the resolve of a seven year old.
The tea rooms have been busy each time we’ve visited, seemingly popular & well loved by locals. And rightly so. The food is lovely. I’ll forgive them a slightly dry scone as the cakes are just sO good. The atmosphere is inviting, and the staff are so very friendly and chatty, and I just love being addressed as ‘ M’lady ‘, obviously a local affection, but lovely non the less.
Oh, and the visit to Santa. Lets just say, Lucy & I left believing in Santa !