I am a big fan of afternoon tea! Myself and my partner are always looking for new places to try and we are always looking for places that are child friendly too as our little man loves afternoon tea (cutta tea as he calls it). I spotted some photos on Facebook of a rather beautifully presented afternoon tea thanks to a friend tagging me in a photo and it definitely caught my eye. It was on the Facebook page for Poplar Tree Garden Centre in Durham which I hadn’t had the chance to visit yet. Once liking the page I was regularly seeing photos of the delicious looking food!
We are currently decorating our new home and we needed to visit a garden centre and Poplar Tree Garden Centre was in the front of my mind because I had been wanting to try their afternoon tea. So on Friday, right after finding out my Mr had passed his driving test that morning we decided to go and celebrate with some afternoon tea at the garden centre whilst also going to look for things we needed. When we turned up I was quite surprised to see how busy the Bramble coffee shop/restaurant was. We didn’t think of booking ahead but this would have been a good idea as a few more people and they may not have been able to fit us in for afternoon tea.
We were met by a lovely lady who was running around catering to every need of customers and although she was rushed off her feet you could see the efforts she was going to, to make sure that everyone was happy. We asked about afternoon tea and she said she would do her very best to fit us in, since we hadn’t booked. We were very appreciative that she promptly sat us down at a table and managed to get us booked in. The afternoon tea was served in a separate room to the regular café and the tables were decorated really lovely, with china teacups and saucers.
After looking at the menu, we discovered there were two different kinds of afternoon tea – Traditional or Gardeners Afternoon Tea. The Gardeners Afternoon Tea was the one I had been seeing on Facebook and was the one we both wanted. The prices were very reasonable for both with the Traditional being £10.95 and the Gardeners being £11.95. There were options to upgrade to Prosecco afternoon tea also for a couple of pounds more. The Gardeners Afternoon Tea was made up of un-cut sandwhiches, home made pies, quiches, scones, smoothies, crisps, cakes and more, served with either Tea or coffee. I am a very fussy eater and don’t eat any red meat or egg so I was worried that there wouldn’t be much for me to eat with the meat pies and quiches making up a portion of the afternoon tea. I mentioned my food preferences to the lady serving us and she was very understanding and accommodating, suggesting sandwiches I might like and made sure I was happy with what I was ordering. Sometimes I feel like a complete nuisance when I order food with me being picky but it was nice to be made to feel like I wasn’t being a pain.
The best thing about the Gardeners Afternoon Tea besides how it tasted was the presentation. The food and smoothies were presented on a miniature garden bench which was just lovely and the smoothies were in glass bottles and crisps in a bucket. It definitely followed the Gardeners theme and was a really unusual but fantastic idea which I loved. The food itself was really tasty with a big selection and I couldn’t believe how much there was for me to eat. With my partner tucking in to all the pies on top of his sandwich he ended up so full up which meant all the cakes were left for me! I had coronation chicken sandwich which was really tasty with crisps and then had a very yummy scone covered in whipped cream and a strawberry. I was already rather full at this point but had to attempt the cakes as they looked so nice. I had a slice of key lime pie which was full of flavour and a tasty tart with a walnut on top.
My son loves to eat afternoon tea and loves to feel like he is eating the same as us. So we ordered him a ham sandwich and I asked if I could have a warm cup of milk so he could have a ‘cup of tea’ like his mummy and daddy. There was a really lovely children’s menu with meals like spaghetti bolognaise on there and a lot of choice but we ordered something not on the menu so he could join in our afternoon tea and again the lady serving us was very accommodating suggesting sandwiches they could make for him and she said she would put him his warm milk in a little tea cup for him, which was a nice touch. He was over the moon with his ‘cutta tea’ and he was really enjoying his ham sandwhich and some of our food too (he loved the mini sausage rolls).
The food really didn’t disappoint but I think the one thing that really stood out was the customer service. From staff smiling at you as they walked past, to them even on a busy day going out of their way to make sure you were happy. The food was brought out very quickly even though the place was almost at full capacity and we had people checking on us to make sure we were happy and offering more sandwiches or tea if we wanted them. We even got to take the cakes and pies home in a box that we didn’t finish! The Garden Centre itself had some really lovely items in there, especially in the gift shop area, the kind of items you can’t just buy anywhere. I ended up getting a couple of Valentine’s day gifts (can’t mention what they are since they are a surprise for the Mr), and also some treats for our dogs. So we didn’t buy what we went for but that is the usual for us!
I will definitely be visiting the garden centre again and both ladies who served us that day, I believe their names were Beth and Rachel made it a lovely experience and definitely deserve some recognition. We had a great time as a family and can’t believe I hadn’t been before now and that I didn’t realise it was so close to me. It really is a hidden gem and I will be visiting the garden centre for afternoon tea again.
Make sure to follow Polar Tree Garden Centre on Facebook www.facebook.com/Poplartreeandbramblescoffeeshop
You can also visit their site for more information www.poplartreegardencentre.co.uk