It’s been a while since we’ve been able to sample another afternoon tea, for various reasons. But today – we were back in the Tea Rooms and back on the hunt!
Our first Afternoon Tea at Tom Browns Brassiere in Gunthorpe was an excellent choice, and set a very high standard for others to live up to. So when a group of us went for a ladies afternoon at The Cavendish Hotel, in Baslow, Sara and I were ready to test all aspects, and insert it into our league table. Alas….the experience is definitely something to write home about!
Venue: The Cavendish Hotel, Baslow, Derbyshire.
Time of our booking: 3pm
Sara booked a group of 6 of us in for the Afternoon Tea about 10 days before. She confirmed the booking and requested my Gluten Free version about 3 days before we were due to go.
Parking: There is building work currently being carried out at the hotel, so the car park has been reduced. We ended up parking in the public car park next door, and had a short 5 minute walk up to the hotel.
First Impressions: When we walked into The Cavendish Hotel, it was like walking into a grand and lavish drawing room, with a real fire place (unlit) and comfy sofas. After a short wait we were led through to The Gallery which is a delightful room with white table cloths covering the tables, and silver tableware with The Cavendish logo. The walls were decorated with old paintings, and the menus we were handed matched the decor. A lot of thought has been put into offering a beautiful impression for a special afternoon.
The tea we were served was “proper” loose-leaf tea, with strainers. I had a berry fruit infusion which was OK. The flavour was more tea than berry, with a slightly bitter aftertaste. The others’ tea was very strong, as was the coffee one of the ladies had. While they tasted smooth, it was a good job lots of hot water was provided!
Presentation: Presentation was just OK for the main Afternoon Tea, it didn’t have the wow factor, as food was served on a black three-tier tray type platter. I was expecting olde style china plates, based on the rest of the decor.
But, my gluten free option was treated as a second-rate cousin, and was served on oversized plates, rather than a three-tiered presentation platter. Disappointing.
The experience: When the food was finally delivered (see failings) it looked OK. Sara had been a couple of times previously, so had recommended The Cavendish to the rest of us based on her enjoyment in the past. But she was disappointed with the selection which was brought out to us. Even by comparison with some of the other tables and it didn’t look all that great. The sandwiches were served on round disks, and there were only 4 each….less than one slice of bread per pseron. The options were one each of: Cured ham and a tomato sauce, salmon and cucumber, egg and cress, and cheese and onion. I liked the cured ham one, but wasn’t too keen on the cheese and onion. When we spoke to one of the waiters and asked for more, he said he would bring some out…but these didn’t materialise.
The scones, however, were served warm and to quote, “were to die for!” The home-made jam, and cream were delicious.
The cake selection was mediocre, initially. This was redeemed after we had spoken with one of the waiters and he arranged for another tray of cakes which included some heavenly pistachio cakes, and brownies. The gluten free ‘apple crumble’ essentially seemed like a flapjack with apple sauce drizzled over the top. I didn’t eat it beyond sampling it.
Some of the others around us had shot glasses on their trays with what looked like a posset, brûlée type dessert, which would have been refreshing after all the cake. Alas this wasn’t an option for our table.
The GF option: As mentioned, the presentation of the gluten free option was very much second rate. So I wasn’t overly impressed. The bread was dry, as if it had been sat out for a while. But the gluten free scone was delicious… I had two on my plate, and I scoffed both of them, thank you very much! Other than that, I wasn’t impressed with the flapjacks on the cake plate.
The crowning glory: The Cavendish offered some home-made whisky chocolate truffles. They were tasty, but those of us who tried them, couldn’t actually taste any whisky in them.
Failings: When booking an afternoon tea, we expected to be served quite quickly after being seated, and served our drinks. An hour and 15 minutes after we were seated we were served. This wasn’t just our table – a couple who had booked for their anniversary had to wait with their young son. And another couple ended up walking out without ever receiving their food.
When we spoke to the lady at Reception, the team were very apologetic, and did all they could to make it up to us: They brought out a bottle of champagne, but with so many drivers we didn’t drink it, we did however, bring it home with us for a future occasion. The extra cakes which were brought out redeemed the mediocre selection originally brought out. They waived the service charge on our bill, and…this is the biggest redeeming factor for all of us… gave us vouchers for another visit to them, with the request to, “Give us another chance. We normally pride ourselves on our service, and are really sorry we didn’t live up to this for you this time. So please come back and give us another chance.”
The waiters were attentive – particularly after we had complained about the long wait and poor selection. One of the waiters said he was supposed to serve us, but had been sent to another part of the hotel, which indicated a lack of staff. Which was a shame.
Toilets: The toilets were beautiful and ‘proper’. The double sink offered matching soap and hand-cream, which smelt gorgeous, while baskets of individual hand towels were spot on for a germaphobe like me!
Best of Afternoon Tea league table: Unfortunately, The Cavendish hasn’t achieved top place. On this visit. If there were more than one in the current table, it would sadly have gone straight to the bottom of the list. But the fact they are good at customer service, and offered free vouchers for a better afternoon tea experience, could well redeem them as the table changes.
Current position: Last 😔