Oaklands Hall Hotel, Laceby
Afternoon Tea has long ago left behind the image of ham sandwiches and a slice of Madeira cake; this delightful tradition has truly become an art form, a feast for the eye as well as for the tummy, so we headed up to Laceby and Oaklands Hall Hotel to see just how creative it is possible to be with this quintessentially English treat.
Award-winning proprietor chef Steve Bennett and his team are not just original in their themes but work to make the experience a memorable occasion whether you are treating yourself or someone very special.
Their spring themed Afternoon Tea has just been introduced and the tiered cake stand looked as pretty as a picture as it was placed in front of us. We were taking our tea in the main dining room but if the weather is suitable, what could be nicer than having a table outside in the beautiful hotel garden?
There was a choice of Belvoir Elderflower Fizz, Stokes tea or coffee but we sipped a glass of Elderflower and Prosecco. I was surprised that I had not discovered this flavour combination before; delicious and it certainly won’t be the last to pass my lips.
We started, on the advice of our waitress, with the hot dishes on the bottom layer of the stand. Firstly there was a demitasse of Spring Pea Soup with crème fraîche and crispy ham hock – very, very moreish. Next came a baked, whole Camembert, served in its wooden presentation box, to be eaten with a selection of slender crudité sticks including celery, carrot and peppers dipped into the runny cheese. This is a great grazing dish which is informal and fun. The third warm option was smoked haddock Scotch Eggs served with tartare sauce. This is a classic combination of flavours and with only three courses down, we could see this was a tea which should be taken at a slightly more leisurely pace than we had started at.
So our conversation rate increased while we anticipated the second tier of filled vol-au-vents. These made a satisfying alternative to the course we associate usually with sandwiches. We each had two, one filled with chicken, lemon and tarragon and another brimming with crayfish and cucumber covered with a Bloody Mary sauce.
The finale of the tea was the cake selection. We both agreed that they looked so beautiful with pinks, cream, green and yellows of a spring garden border; it would be a shame to spoil them but that didn’t stop us for long from tucking in.
There were soft lemon and poppy seed Madeleines with orange curd; white chocolate cream éclairs with a raspberry glaze; delicate rose macarons and finally petite rhubarb and elderflower trifles with pistachio nuts. We finished with a pot of tea for two.
We visited on a midweek afternoon and there were tables of twos, like us and fours. Some looked like mother/daughter treats while others were bigger family occasions. Afternoon Tea really is a high value option which does not break the bank. I don’t think I have ever met anyone whose eyes do not light up at the thought of being indulged like this.