For those of you who know me personally or who are regular followers of the blog, you will know that I have had my fair share of afternoon teas. I’ve sampled a wide variety, from the humble village tea shop, to the critically acclaimed Regency tea rooms, to the extravagant Fortnum and Mason.
But the one that I go back to time and time again is the Cavendish restaurant at Chatsworth House. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve visited this restaurant. I’d recommend it as one of the best planned, best value afternoons teas around.
So you can probably imagine my excitement when I received an email from Chatsworth announcing their new restaurant, specialising in an exclusive Wedgwood afternoon tea.
My heart sank a little when the details were finally released. The menu sounded not massively dissimilar to the afternoon tea I was used to, but the price, at £35 a person, was almost double the usual cost. And far, far out of my price range.
Just as I had decided that I wouldn’t be trying the new restaurant anytime soon, I received another email. To try and promote the new restaurant before its official opening, Friends of Chatsworth were offered a 20% discount if booked before the 10th April. I called and booked the same day!
I’d booked a table for two last Friday at 1pm, and as we arrived a bit early there was just time to have a look around the newly refurbished shops. To make room for the new restaurant, Chatsworth have done some major renovations to the whole stables area. The new shop is so pretty – I could have spent hours there (and lots of money) but thankfully it was soon time to go and take to take our seats.
The new restaurant is called The Flying Childers and it is beautiful. The decor is simple and elegant. It gives the venue a calm, relaxed and sophisticated atmosphere. Each afternoon tea is served on a stunning Wedgwood tea service, which is so beautiful I was terrified of dropping it and breaking it. I will definitely NOT be taking the girls here any time soon! That’d be the stuff of nightmares.
We were shown to our table by Edward, our waiter for the afternoon. As The Flying Childers has not had it’s official launch yet, we were the only two people in the restaurant, which only added to the feeling of exclusivity.
Edward ( I feel like we’re on first name terms as we spent so long talking to him!) showed us the menu, which included details on the establishment of the restaurant and how it got it’s name. We selected the Wedgwood afternoon tea and although there was a wide selection of teas to choose from, I stuck with my usual Earl Grey. Sometimes it’s best to go with that you know.
In no time at all, the starter was bought out. Yes, you heard me correctly – there was a starter with our afternoon tea. One thing I really liked about this particular afternoon tea was that all of the courses were bought out individually, which really gave you time to savour each dish before moving onto the next.
The first course was Beetroot macaroon served with goat’s curd. When the dish was put in front of me, I was dubious. It looked a little pretentious – all style and no substance. I mean, I’ve had beetroot before and think it’s fine but it’s really nothing to write home about. I couldn’t have been more wrong – the macaroons were delicious, chewy and crunchy at the same time and their sweetness perfectly complemented the tartness of the goat’s curd. There were also these little jelly cubes, looking like jewels, made from tomato, beetroot and golden beetroot (something I’d never heard of before) that I could have happily eaten like Smarties. The dish was light and airy, and left you wanting more – as all good dishes should.
Next came the sandwiches. These are exactly the same as the traditional afternoon tea I normally have, which was no problem for me as I absolutely love their sandwiches. You get a smoked salmon and dill mayonnaise, roasted ham and tomato chutney, free range egg mayonnaise and cress, cucumber and cream cheese. My favourite is either the salmon or the ham (that chutney is to die for). Oh, and for the record there is almost no dignified way to remove cucumber from a sandwich, but I really can’t stand the stuff! Needs must, people.
After the sandwiches, the final course came out – a freshly baked duo of scones with a selection of cakes and fancies! There was a huge selection and they all looked spectacular. The tea tray looked like a mini work of art and I felt guilty at demolishing it. For about a second! I got over that pretty quickly!
On the top tray were two different kinds of scone. There was a stilton and walnut savoury scone, and then the traditional sultana with jam and cream. I normally turn my nose up at savoury scones, but the stilton ones were divine.
There were far too many mini-treats to possibly go through them all, and to be honest I didn’t catch the names of all of them. Each one was a bite of heaven, beautifully presented and perfectly proportioned. Perhaps my favourite was the chocolatey-mousse thing which was absolutely sublime, although it was a close run thing between that and the savarin (a glazed sponge cake that was new to me). It was apparently covered in a mint glaze, however, if I’m honest I didn’t really taste that (I have an unrefined palate). It did taste of sticky toffee pudding, with strawberries on top and I could have quite happily eaten a crate load of them.
After the tea, I really didn’t want to leave so we each ordered a cappucino. We were very pleased to discover that we didn’t have to pay extra for the coffees as all hot drinks were included in the price of the tea. Over coffee we had time to chat to Edward some more, fill in a (very complimentary) comment card and reflect over a beautiful meal. Although it didn’t seem like there had been an excess of food on the plates, I was very pleasantly full.
At the end of the meal I had to admit that all of my reservations over the price of the afternoon tea had been squashed. In comparison with the Fortnum and Mason tea (which was £40 a person), the Flying Childers tea was far superior. There had obviously been a lot of time spent planning each course, working out flavours that complemented each other and designing the best possible presentation.
The service was warm and welcoming. Edward was attentive and informative, talking us through each course and giving his recommendations on the best way to enjoy each dish.
Although this isn’t something I could afford to do every day, or even every month, it is something I would definitely recommend as a treat for a special occasion, such as a birthday or anniversary. I’m already trying to think up an excuse to get back there again.
If you’d like more information on The Flying Childers afternoon tea, or indeed any of Chatsworth’s restaurants you should check out their website – I can pretty much recommend everything on the menu! I don’t think I’ve ever had a meal there that I didn’t enjoy.
I hope you enjoyed my review of the new Flying Childers restaurant. Let me know in the comments below if you’ve tried any of the Chatsworth restaurants, or if you have any places you’d recommend. I’m always looking for new places to try!