Tea For Two By Clarke Kennedy

Issue 26

Having been relegated to the Northern Insight backbenches in recent times, I'm pleased to report that I've been recalled from the wilderness to do this write up for Crathorne Hall.

A stately country house in North Yorkshire, this is a hotel with a fine reputation for food & drink which celebrates all things quintessentially English. The inner confines are an enchanting place where tradition is adhered to with afternoon tea served daily between 12 and 5:30pm. The regal drawing room is a quaint throwback to yesteryear and dazzles the eyes with its high ceilings, rich decoration and ornate cornicing. There’s a lovely, steady hum about the place where guests recline and converse freely whilst spreading jam on cream and indeed, cream on jam. As a prefix to the menu itself, a little info is even provided to the origins of afternoon tea. The tradition is credited to Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford in the early 1800’s. Apparently, a 19th century Duchess could go a little hungry, particularly in the fallow period between early lunch and late dinner. The concept then was therefore conceived to allay those mid-afternoon hunger pangs of which I’m sure so many of us are familiar with. I personally reckon that we have a lot to thank old Anna for and me and my Duchess Mensa memory readers may remember my girlfriend Harriet simply couldn’t wait to get stuck in. You see, what’s particularly test match about Crathorne Hall is that all items on offer are genuinely delicious and guests are even given a bit of additional choice aside from their fixed offering. All too often have I been left with that stray apricot macaroon not today! Harriet had her eyes on the classic “Crathorne Afternoon Tea.” This looked like top tucker and featured dainty, freshly-cut finger sandwiches with fillings including Smoked Salmon with Lemon & Dill Mayo, Ham with Wholegrain Mustard, Cucumber & Cream Cheese and Wensleydale & Tomato Chutney. This was supplemented by a scrumptious array of homebaked pastries which would even make Paul Hollywood smile; Strawberry cake, Lemon meringue pie, Pistachio Slice and a particularly divine White Chocolate & Raspberry mousse were all polished off with gusto. Also in the mix are fruit and plain scones whilst pots of cafetiere coffee and classic loose-leaf teas lend further gentility. For those of you seeking further indulgence (as of course Harriet was), guests can enjoy all of this alongside a glass of fizz. Meanwhile, if like me, you prefer your flavours a little more savoury, Crathorne also do an alternative “Savoury afternoon tea” which I thought was a sterling idea. This does require 20 minutes preparation time though those patient few can look forward to peppered lemon chicken skewers, classic pork pies, sweet chilli prawn cocktail, spring rolls and smoked salmon & tomato brochettes. Afternoon tea of course is a most refined activity yet there’s no reason that this can’t be fun for all the family. Crathorne Hall really have thought of everything and even offer a “Young Person’s Afternoon Tea” championing simpler fayre such as plain scones, gingerbread men and ham & cheese sarnies. All in all, this was a very civilised experience. Situated just minutes away from the A19 you don’t need a Geography degree to find it and the staff really are all terribly welcoming. I’m just so pleased I got drafted in from featurewriting Siberia to sample this; a prim and proper, three-tiered afternoon of splendour which shall live long in the memory.

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