How good is this award-winning afternoon tea?

PUBLISHED: 11:45 17 October 2020

The Crown Lodge Hotel Restaurant at Outwell.  Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Crown Lodge Hotel Restaurant at Outwell. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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We try the afternoon tea at Crown Lodge Hotel in Outwell, winner of Eat Norfolk Food & Drink award

Best Afternoon Tea  Sanjay Kaushal of Castlemeadow Care with  Jamie Symons and Tim Gibb of The Crown Lodge Hotel. Photo: Simon FinlayBest Afternoon Tea  Sanjay Kaushal of Castlemeadow Care with Jamie Symons and Tim Gibb of The Crown Lodge Hotel. Photo: Simon Finlay

We would like to apologise for the late arrival of this review of afternoon tea at the Crown Lodge Hotel at Outwell. It should have appeared way back in March but, well, you know what happened...

But better late than never we ambled into the socially-distant home of the winner of the 2019 EAT Norfolk Food & Drink Awards winner of the afternoon tea category, sponsored by Castlemeadow Care.

It was a dismal October day, cold and windy with that peculiarly drenching fine rain that the Scots call ‘dreich’, so we were glad to be ushered to a table in front of the fire. Eschewing the menu of fancy-dan teas we took traditional English breakfast loose leaf and awaited the arrival of the main event; we had skipped lunch and had no dinner plans, so expectations were high.

The traditional three-tier stand appeared moments later, listing to port under the weight of goodies heaped up on it. The non-carnivorous half of the party had ordered and so the sandwich tier was a meat-free zone, but certainly none the worse for it; the beautifully soft fresh breads, including a wonderful corn bread, and fillings were a delight.

Three levels of afternoon delight at the Crown Lodge Hotel. Photo: Dominic CastleThree levels of afternoon delight at the Crown Lodge Hotel. Photo: Dominic Castle

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The savoury level was completed by a superb little cube of herby cheese and onion quiche and an edible pastry teaspoon containing a dob of spicy creaminess; perfect.

But if we’re honest it’s not really the savouries that make the party fun, is it? It’s all the cakey stuff - no less than half a dozen varieties of naughtiness in this case.

We had a chocolate mousse-filled horn, a creme-stuffed choux bun with a hint of booze (she said Amaretto, I said Baileys; we forgot to ask), macarons, a shaving of fruit cake, carrot cake and a quite exceptional brownie. At the top of the tree was a fresh, super-light and warm fruit scone, with home-made jam and clotted cream.

Afternoon tea is supposed to be a proper treat, a real escape from the mundanities of everyday life and this one hit the mark, a real feel-good way to spend an hour or so, and the Crown Lodge offering is a proven, and worthy, winner.

Best Afternoon Tea, sponsored by Castlemeadow Care

The judges said: “When the cake stand arrived the judges were wowed; the balance of products from sweet to savoury, size and flavours were superb.”

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