Cast your mind back yonks and yonks ago and you might remember the I enjoyed a dose of afternoon tea anarchy at the Malmaison hotel in Liverpool… Or the time I took my Pops for afternoon tea 300ft high in the sky at Panoramic34…
In a nutshell, my experiences of afternoon tea have always been a bit, shall we say, off the wall. Out of the ordinary. A little left of convention. So, when an invite to try out traditional afternoon tea at Thornton Hall on the Wirral landed in my inbox, I was keen to explore the other side of the cake stand.
Thornton Hall is only about a 15-minute door-to-door drive away from my humble abode so it’s somewhere I’m already very familiar with. For those who don’t know, however, it’s a hotel, spa and leisure facility which also boasts a handful of bars and eateries.
Thornton Hall is tradition personified. It’s a beautiful white building spanning over plush green gardens and bordered by perfectly preened plant life. Come rain or shine, it’s a postcard-perfect venue that never seems to dwindle in popularity.
Props to the designers who have just recently refurbished the The Lawns restaurant within the hall’s grounds because they have managed to strike the perfect balance between the beauty of bygone times and modern intrigue.
I’m talking decorative ceilings and ornate architecture juxtaposed against monkey motif wallpaper and mismatched furniture. It’s cosy, warm and quiet – the kind of place you’d like to sit and get lost in a good book for a long while.
In fact, if Emily Brontё were to be resurrected as a millennial version of her former self, I imagine she would feel utterly at home sipping a new-fangled cocktail against a nostalgic, antique backdrop.
The menu comes with a choice of Sweet or Savoury afternoon tea (a nice touch) so my partner in dine and I naturally went for one of each. We sipped our way through a lively glass of rose Prosecco and a pot of loose leaf from the extensive tea menu while we eagerly anticipated their arrival. I went for a Wild Cherry loose leaf and my taste-bud went for the GraviTEA which was an energising concoction of citrus flavours.
The two stands came served in a classic tiered style with three edible layers each. Highlights for us from the Savoury edition had to be the miniature Chicken, Bacon & Leek Pie, Savoury Scone with Chilli Jam and Beef Slider with Swiss Cheese. These were piping hot, perfectly seasoned and things we would have been happy to tuck into full-size.
Standouts from the Sweet Afternoon Tea were the Blackcurrant Pate de Fruit (like a giant fruit pastille) and rich Chocolate Orange Tart. We were also particularly impressed with the warm, fresh scones which came served with clotted cream, salted butter and our choice of two jams: Raspberry & Vanilla and Damson & Sloe Gin.
Both Sweet and Savoury versions come with a selection of four finger sandwiches: Egg & Cress, Glazed Ham & Tomato Chutney,Prawn Marie Rose and Chicken, Lettuce & Tomato Mayo. Honestly, I just can’t get excited about sandwiches which don’t bend any culinary rules so these weren’t all that memorable to me.
Actually, you know what? I think I’m going to start a petition to banish finger sandwiches back to the 1970’s where they belong. Let me hear you say it: DOWN WITH FINGER SANDWICHES! DOWN WITH FINGER SANDWICHES!
So, all in all, while a majority of the little morsels that came on each stand were very tasty and the rest perfectly edible, you do need to be prepared to pay 4* hotel prices (£24.50 per person + plus drinks).
We are talking about afternoon tea in one of the most desirable venues on the Wirral here and the hospitality and service of the staff was impeccable.
Swings and roundabouts, my friends, swings and roundabouts.
I was very kindly invited to review Thornton Hall but all words, photographs, opinions, teeth, hair, boobs and nails are my very own.