WITH the national craze for afternoon tea showing no sign of abating, I headed up to the Lakes recently with a friend to partake in that quintessentially English pastime.

This was to be not just any old afternoon tea, however. The Wild Boar at Crook is one of an increasingly large number of establishments offering their “alternative” take on an afternoon tea.

But first to the venue.Today’s Wild Boar is charming and utterly inviting. Classic country décor, cosy groups of armchairs and sofas abound, fireplaces promise yet more cosiness, and dining areas flow interestingly around the building.

My friend Eleanor and I had booked for the £25-a-head afternoon tea and we were led into the capacious main dining room. The room at that point was empty except for one other couple. Irritatingly to all concerned, we were seated cheek by jowl with said couple – despite every other table in the room being free.

We were soon tucking in to a glass each of Prosecco, which is part of the afternoon tea (beer is available as an option – as, of course, are soft drinks) and our food arrived soon afterwards.

Served on a very rustic three-tiered plank affair, at first glance it looked impressive. Unfortunately, it didn’t particularly bear closer scrutiny. It consisted of some chicken wings, a mini burger each, mini fish and chips, mini glazed sausages, pork scratchings and a sweet element of chocolate brownies, scones with damson jam and clotted cream and sticky coffee cupcakes.

Sounds a lot, I know – but actually, it wasn’t. Divided on to plates, the savoury elements were pretty small and, apart from the lovely smoked duck and chilli sausages, there was absolutely nothing special or inventive about anything we ate. The wings, the mini burger, the fish goujons, the chips – totally standard. Perfectly acceptable but there was zero wow factor to this “alternative” tea. And for the amount of food – even taking into account the Prosecco and cakes - £25 struck both of us as a bit steep.

Good scones and the damson jam was lovely; although the sticky toffee cupcake was tooth-rottingly sweet. The chocolate brownies were the star of the sweet show.

While the savoury element was uninspiring, it has to be said that Eleanor and I had a lovely afternoon at the Wild Boar. The staff were pleasant and the surroundings so lovely that, after the tea things were cleared away, we decamped to the cosy bar area and lingered over a glass each of pinot.

And a special shout out to the Wild Boar lavatory, which is one of the loveliest around (I know, but honestly, it’s charming).

In all, a disappointing “alternative” afternoon tea – which seriously needs some culinary imagination applying to it to justify the £25-a-head price tag. But so charming a place, that I am looking forward to returning, having heard fantastic reports of the Sunday lunches.

In a nutshell

Food 2.5

Service 3.5

Atmosphere 5

Value 2.5


  • Charming, traditional pub
  • Lovely rooms


  • You’ll need a car
  • Tea needs re-imagining