FOOD REVIEW: A lovely family afternoon tea at the Netherwood Hotel, Grange
The Netherwood Hotel, Grange
THERE are few more civilised ways of spending a Sunday than taking afternoon tea with one's family. Do it in a genteel Edwardian seaside resort and the civilisation factor doubles.
A couple of weeks ago I, my sister, my brother and our spouses met up at The Netherwood Hotel in Grange for a delightful interlude over tea.
My brother Christopher was over for the weekend from his home in the north east – and afternoon tea was the perfect opportunity for a get together.
We convened at 3pm on a rainy afternoon, to find the large panelled lounge laid out for our family tea. The hotel recently changed hands after decades of being owned by the Fallowfield family; but I am pleased to report that, thus far, the new owners have not felt the need to make any radical changes.
The entrance hall is as magnificent as ever, and the main rooms retain their old world charm – long may that continue. Ensconced in our panelled pleasure dome, we got down to the business of swapping family news, which included graduations, impending grandparenthood, recent holidays and the like; and as we waited for our afternoon tea to arrive our group was expanded by my sister's son, wife and adorable little daughter Celia dropping in to say hello. They were en route home to London from a party in Durham and were breaking their journey with a stay at my sister's.
Our tea arrived a few minutes later – and although we had ordered tea for six, and we were now a group of nine, there was so much food, we could have easily accommodated another few unexpected visitors.
Two laden tiered trays arrived, groaning with a wide array of sandwiches, pork pies, savoury scones, sweet scones and cakes. Another tiered tray arrived, with some soaked salmon amuse bouches, which was a very generous touch for a £16-a-head afternoon tea.
Pots of tea flowed, the friendly waiting staff happy to bring us as much as we needed. It was a bit on the strong side for me – more builder's tea than genteel – but we let it down with the copious extra jugs of hot water the staff kept bringing.
I personally would have liked the crockery to be bone china rather than standard hotel issue, but then I'm fussy like that.
Sandwiches were dainty and crustless, as they should be. Fillings included egg, beef, salmon, tuna, cheese... really, there seemed to be an endless choice, which was great for me, as it's very much the savoury element of afternoon which I prefer.
Savoury cheese scones came with hunks of cheese and a good, homemade chutney. They were delicious.
By this time another group of tea-partakers had joined us in the lounge; and the room had a jolly atmosphere. While the Netherwood is a grand building, there is nothing stuffy about it; and it's a lovely venue for a relaxed gathering.
A 70th birthday party was being held in the main restaurant, and it is no surprise that the hotel is a very popular venue for celebrations.
A few of us braved the rain and strolled out onto the terrace before we got stuck into the cakes. The hotel affords a lovely view of Morecambe Bay; and, without knowing its history, I feel sure that it was originally a house built for some local magnate.
The drizzle drove us back indoors, where we tucked into diddy fresh cream eclairs, millionaire's shortbread and orange cake, along with huge scones, jam and clotted cream. The cakes weren't perhaps the most elaborate examples of patisserie but they were fresh and tasty and perfectly fine for a traditional afternoon tea.
Service was attentive throughout and the leftover scones were packed into doggy bags for those of us who wanted to to take home for later. For £16 each, this had been a very good value tea. Masses of food and lashings of tea in traditional surroundings.
It had been a lovely, happy way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
Cakes could be more sophisticated
China crockery would be nice