Grayz Tea Rooms, Lincoln
There is no need to do a double take if you are wandering around uphill Lincoln: there are two Grayz Tea Rooms, which opened last summer – one on Gordon Road and the other on Steep Hill.
We chose to visit the Steep Hill tea room which occupies a prime location on what was recently voted Britain’s Best Street. We entered the beautiful, timber framed building and sat at a ground level window table. Fresh flowers brightened our table and more in a vase on the windowsill too. Since I last visited the premises, the interior has been redecorated and made much lighter with white and ‘cupcake’ colours; even the pretty curtains have the cupcake theme. The overall effect is fresh, while retaining all the charm of a traditional tea room.
Locally sourced produce is a main feature of the menu and is freshly cooked to order. Coffees, too, are freshly ground and brewed as required but, despite the consideration asked for on the menu, we had no discernible delay in our orders arriving.
The menu starts with breakfast options, which can be ordered throughout the day, and there is everything from a Full English to fresh croissants and cinnamon toast. My companion chose the free range scrambled egg and bacon served on toast. I chose from the specials blackboard and went for sweet potato and cumin soup with half a granary baguette. I sipped on a latte coffee and my companion a hot chocolate while our orders were prepared.
I decided to have a look to see what alterations had been made upstairs. The winding staircase is typical of a building of this age and leads to a further seating area with more tables. Here a choice of home made cakes was displayed on cake stands on handsome side boards. All very tempting! These included Grayz signature fairy cakes, which are also made with a gluten free option.
The other menu options included lite bites such as pâté and cheese on toast, a selection of sandwiches and paninis, as well as cold and warm salads and jacket potatoes with a choice of fillings. There were some delicious sounding combinations, such as Stilton with mango chutney or home baked ham with mustard sandwiches, as well as smoked chicken and crispy bacon warm salad.
My steaming bowl of soup was fresh on the palate yet had all the sweetness of the sweet potato, with the warmth of the spice taking the chill off a very cold day. The soft and buttery scrambled egg and bacon was a very substantial portion and hit the spot once again. We both had our doubts if we could manage anything to follow but the cakes and pastries were too tempting and we decided to share a slice of Victoria sponge to end our lunch. Mary Berry would definitely have approved of the moist crumb and ratio of butter cream to jam.
Around us other couples and groups were coming in for snacks, meals and coffees and there was a comforting hum of chatter along with the tinkling of teaspoons on china. I would quite happily have stayed for much more of the afternoon to enjoy more of the friendly service, delicious food and to watch the outside world pass by.