To mark the birthday of my twin sister and I, afternoon tea was booked at Eshott Hall for us both and our three other (older!) sisters.
It’s not that often that we are all able to meet up and afternoon tea was decidedly different from our usual get-togethers which are normally a meal out or a barbecue.
How sophisticated it sounds! I imagine sandwiches – no crusts of course – scones and fancies served in elegant surroundings – a very traditional British affair.
Eshott Hall did not disappoint.
It is one of Northumberland’s most beautiful 17th century country houses, set in idyllic surroundings with rolling lawns and ancient woodland and convenient to reach being just a few minutes from either the A1 or the A1068.
We approached along the tree-lined drive and were charmed by the appearance of the hall with its wisteria-clad frontage – very pretty.
Staff greeted us upon our arrival and we were shown into the library which was where we were served tea. As there were 10 in our group, including a baby, it was nice to have our own space.
Other reception rooms were also being used for afternoon tea so I would think that all the guests felt there was plenty of room for each group.
Hotel staff were happy to wait until we had all arrived and served drinks to those already there, which gave us a chance to admire the room which had been arranged thoughtfully with small groups of chairs and tables dotted around.
Once our group was complete, the food was served.
Cake stands were laden with sandwiches, scones, cakes and fancies.
There was a choice of smoked salmon, ham and pease pudding, cheese and chutney and chicken and bacon with the sandwiches, on white and brown bread.
They were all very tasty, although a couple of our group thought the chicken and bacon mix had too much mayonnaise in it.
Scones, made with wholemeal and white flour, fruit and plain, were topped off with nice tangy preserves which were laden with fruit and bowls of clotted cream sat there looking very tempting.
Some managed to resist the cream, but I couldn’t. Indulgent yes, calorific yes and scrummy yes!
My sweet tooth satisfied, I resisted most of the top tier, bar a mango macaroon, but the sisters reported that the selection of cake on offer was very satisfactory!
There is a choice of two types of tea on offer at Eshott.
Afternoon tea is available daily from 3pm to 5pm and includes a selection of sandwiches, scones, cakes, preserves and fresh tea /coffee at £13.50 per person.
Eshott Hall cream tea, which includes scones, cakes, preserves and fresh tea /coffee, is £10.50 per person.
Although tea is available between 3pm and 5pm, it was about 6.30pm before we all left and felt no pressure from the staff to hurry up.
This left us plenty of time to enjoy the surroundings, which surely is one of the reasons for visiting somewhere like Eshott.
I took the baby in our group for a little stroll around the grounds in his pushchair and we enjoyed the woodland which was full of birdsong - but didn’t serenade him to sleep!
Various members of our group commented on the good proportions of the building and admired the style of decor, definitely country house but not so posh you were afraid to touch anything.
A glance at the library shelves revealed copies of Who’s Who, which required an entertaining look through.
I thought the afternoon tea was excellent value for money and after reading that head chef Chris Wood and his team have been awarded two AA Rosettes for the ‘highest standards of creative cuisine’ I would love to go back again and see what else the hall has to offer and taste that cuisine.
Lunch and dinner is available daily at Eshott Hall.
Two courses are £25 and three are £30.
Sunday lunch bookings are available at two courses for £17.50 and three for £22 per person; pre-booking is essential.
We must book soon.
The hotel is also child-friendly.
It is proud of using fresh, locally-sourced ingredients where possible, as well as its own kitchen garden.
Local suppliers include L Robson & Sons Ltd, Craster, Swallows of Seahouses and Sunnyhill Eggs, Belford.
IT’S NICE TO BE POSH ONCE IN A WHILE
Afternoon tea is such a British institution that sadly seems to be disappearing. So it was lovely to take tea in the elegant surroundings of Eshott Hall.
Being served in our own private room added to the experience, giving us the chance for a good old catch-up without worrying about disturbing other diners.
But it did mean that we had to go in search of a staff member for a teapot top-up.
One other minor gripe – an orange squash arrived with ice. It would have been nice to be asked beforehand.
SELECTION FROM THE MAIN MENU
Crane Row Farm pork belly wonton, apple jelly, crackling.
Scottish scallops, cauliflower puree, curry & sultana emulsion (£3 supplement).
Pheasant breast, bubble & squeak, butternut squash puree, smoked bacon & onion sauce.
Garden beetroot & leek risotto, roasted pumpkin, creamed kale.
Halibut fillet, heritage potato, roasted squash, baby fennel, tarragon cream (£5 supplement).
Sticky pear & ginger pudding, butterscotch sauce, cinnamon ice cream.
Dark chocolate & beetroot brownie, vanilla ice cream, chocolate brittle (£2 supplement)
STAR RATINGS (OUT OF 10)
Quality of food......8
Value for money......9
Use of local food......8½
Children catered for......8
Access for disabled......Yes
Toilet for disabled......Yes
Verdict: A lovely experience.
Contact: 01670 787454 or visit Eshott Hall online.