Last September on our way back from Cornwall we stayed two days in Bradford on Avon and Bath. In Bradford we had the opportunity to eat fantastic lunch in a traditional tea room - a place that has been awarded many times and for me this is the best example of how tea room should be run like.
The building itself is dating from 1502 and this makes this place quite specific - not too spacious, with low ceilings and exposed beams, you can also hear every single step from the first floor. Tables are situated on the ground and first floor, there is not too many of them (still enough to cater for 45 people!), so if you are desperate to eat during the high season then better book in advance.
For me this is a quintessential English tea in good old style: delicate bone china, subtle classical music in the background, fresh flowers, antique furniture and also... a sculpture of Queen Victoria proudly exposed in the spotlight. An interesting touch is also made by waitresses dresses in Victorian style outfits typical for the servants that old days. They also behave in very friendly way, like the customers were just a bunch of friends coming to a tea, still with a professional touch though. They are warm, friendly, very happy to help and advice and answer your questions.
I was in many British tea rooms over the years but the selection of teas in this particular one was the most impressive. They have over 30 varieties and blends! And they know how to make a proper brew. They serve good quality leaf teas, with extra hot water on the side and a strainer. I was really spoiled with their selection but finally decided to go Jane Austen blend (she spend several years in Bath nearby) and my partner had very tasty and strong Assam.
For a lunch we both had one of the afternoon teas from the menu - these start at basic one (scones, clotted cream, preserves and tea) but also menu offers a great variety of different ones: including a savoury one or one with a glass of champagne. We had the savoury one - scone with herbs (served warm), Cheddar, Stilton and Camembert, butter, celery sticks, apple, grapes and chutney. And a pot of tea of our choice (as above). It was our food heaven. It tasted great, the selection of cheese was spot on, so was the scone, slightly toasted the way I like. Although we were really full after having this savoury afternoon tea we had to finish it off with something sweet.
We shared a traditional cream tea. It is not stated that it is big enough for two, but it was big enough not only to sample, but to get a satisfying dessert for both of us. We had two big fluffy scones, two jams - strawberry and blackcurrant and my beloved clotted cream (traditionally made in Devon and Cornwall - Protected Designation of Origin). With this one we had a tea blend called Empress of Pecking - a medium strength China tea with an aroma of orange blossom and citrus fruits.
On the menu apart from the traditional afternoon teas and very impressive cakes exposed in the glass chilled cabinets there are some savoury bits available too such as traditional sandwiches (egg & cress, bacon, lettuce & tomato), red onion & goat cheese tart, jacked potatoes or soup of the day. Until 11.30 am you can also eat traditional English breakfasts: Full Monty, eggs benedictine, or scrambled eggs with smoked salmon). The tea room is also available for private parties.
If you are a lover of tea, if you like old fashion touch and fancy an afternoon in a tranquil environment then this is a right place for you. If you are a tourist and want to see something quintessentially English then again - this is a right place for you. I will definitely go back there one day.
The Bridge Tea Rooms
24a Bridge Street
Bradford on Avon
tel. 01225 865537
Monday - Friday 9.30 - 5.30
Saturday 9.30 - 6.00
Sunday 11.00 - 5.30
We had: savoury afternoon tea £9.75 each, sweet £6.65, all the prices can be found on their website. There is also children's menu available.