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Review: Chiseldon House Afternoon Tea
Here at Total Swindon, we believe Sundays are meant to be taken at a leisurely pace, socialising with friends. With that in mind, we were invited to go along and sample an Afternoon Tea at the gorgeous Chiseldon House Hotel. Read below to see how we got on!
The first thing that hits you when you arrive at Chiseldon House is the view. Customers park their cars at one end of the beautiful garden and are faced with a stunning view of the Grade II listed estate. They certainly don’t build them like they did back in 1821 when this house was constructed. We walked down the winding path and made our way in for our reservation. When there’s a bit of a nip in the air, nothing quite beats a warming cup of tea. But how about a special Afternoon Tea? And what’s the difference anyway?
We walked through the tidy entrance way, with their Christmas wreaths on the double doors as you enter, to see a long hallway to the reception area. A friendly member of staff was busy behind the desk but welcomed us in as we made our way to announce ourselves. After explaining that we had a reservation, he accompanied us to the restaurant and handed us over to the waiting staff on duty at the time. Once there we took our seats at the lovely bay-windowed table and perused the menu.
Myself, I like to try different sorts of things, and as a fancy-tea-novice it was great that the menu was broken up in to bagged- and loose leaf-tea, as well as a few descriptive lines about what flavours to expect from your beverage of choice. There was also the option to have a coffee or a hot chocolate, so if you’re not a tea-lover there’s still plenty to keep you going!
While we were looking through the menu, our waiter brought us over a Mulled Wine Sorbet, which was something I'd never tried before. Obviously being used to mulled wine being warm, I looked forward to trying it in sorbet-form and wasn't disappointed. The strong flavours mixed with the intense cold of the sorbet did a great job of cleansing my palate!
My tea partner chose the ever-popular Earl Grey – with distinctive flavour and and aroma of Bergamot oranges – which she enjoyed with just a splash of milk. I chose the loose-leaf Victoria Tea, which the menu described as ‘A quality afternoon tea blend, strong Assams are combined with classic winey Darjeeling with a touch of oolong for a slight champagne finish.’ It seemed like a good all-rounder, and certainly one I’d try again.
Part of the fun of an Afternoon Tea, for me at least, is all the paraphernalia that comes with it. From the quaint china cups with saucers, to the ornate teapot and milk jug. As I was having loose-leaf tea you also had the added strainer to pour your tea through so the loose leaves don’t end up in your cup. It’s not very often we get use these things and the novelty certainly wasn’t lost on either of us. We could sit in the light, airy restaurant-come-tea room and casually chat. It was really relaxing and just what we needed after a busy week running up to Christmas.
Our Afternoon Tea included a selection of finger sandwiches, a savoury wrap and a selection of sweet treats. The waiting staff were exceedingly warm and friendly, always available in case we needed a top-up. They brought out our platter of food which looked (almost) too good to eat, presented on beautiful tiered tray.
The menu struck a fantastic balance between being seasonal, but not too cheesy. The same can be said of the décor around the hotel itself. We tucked in to the sandwiches of the day, which were; roast turkey breast with cranberry, smoked salmon and dill crème fraiche and a spring onion, pear and Oxford blue cheese wrap. Three sandwiches and two wraps was plenty for us, and you could certainly tell they were freshly made in-house.
After polishing those off we moved on to the scones, which were still warm and were served with super-thick clotted cream and tasty strawberry jam. We had two each, which saved a certain dash for the last scone as they were particularly delicious!
The desserts were a tempting selection of rich chocolate cake with winter berry compote, a lovely spiced Dundee cake with orange icing (my first experience of Dundee cake, think a lighter version of ginger cake) and a quirky take on the festive favourite mince pie, a mince meat swirl. A mince pie crossed with a cinnamon swirl – it tasted as good as it sounds!
Although the food was small in stature, it was plenty to keep us filled up. I comfortably got four cups of tea out of my pot, making the Afternoon Tea great value for our time spent in such grand surroundings.
I’d definitely head to Chiseldon House again after this experience. Their Afternoon Tea is a fantastic way to catch up with friends, or just take a moment out of your busy life to take things at a little more leisurely pace. If you’re celebrating – or even if you’re not – the hotel also offer a Champagne Afternoon Tea and a Hendricks Gin Afternoon Tea, which adds a little more fizz and fun to your visit!