Cost – £20.00 (July 2017)
Background – The pretty village of Grantchester lies just to the south of Cambridge.
One of the most popular places to visit in the village is the Orchard Tea Rooms. Tea has been served beneath the apple trees here since 1897.
It has been visited by many famous people including Rupert Brooke, Virgina Woolfe and HRH Prince Charles.
It has taken us around thirty five years, but we have at last visited as well!
There are many deckchairs and small wooden tables dotted around the Orchard under the tress. There is also a couple of pavilions containing tables for rainy days. One of these pavilions is the original built around the end of the nineteenth century which was used by Rupert Brooke and his friends to take tea in when it rained.
The Orchard has only recently started to sell Afternoon Teas. Booking is required at least twenty four hours ahead. There is a choice of two full Afternoon Teas. We chose the Virginia Woolfe Tea.
Contents – Six finger sandwiches each (two each of smoked salmon with cream cheese, egg mayonnaise and cheese with pickle. A fairly large fruit scone and a fairly large plain scone, a small Tiptree jar of strawberry jam and a small pot of Rhodda’s clotted cream. A large chocolate éclair and a good-sized slice of chocolate cake. The tea was made with teabags.
Comments – We arrived via the back entrance straight into the orchard as we had come by bike. We walked through the orchard which was busy with many many people sitting
on deckchairs under the trees. We went towards the buildings but it was quite difficult to work out where we should be and we saw no staff to ask. Eventually we found the main entrance and servery, which were on the other side of the building. If we had arrived by car this would have been obvious as it faced onto the car park.
We then joined a long queue at the servery. Luckily, we then spotted a member of staff and asked what we should do as we were booked in. He managed to find someone who knew about us and told us to wait in the pavilion area.
We were eventually shown to a table reserved for us in the inside area of the newer of the two pavilions.
We were seated next to the windows looking out onto the orchard.
Once we had our table the tea arrived quickly in two stainless steel teapots accompanied
by a jug of milk. The Afternoon Tea arrived fairly quickly after, served on two round white plates (one each).
The sandwiches were very fresh and remarkably well filled. They were tasty but the pickle was a standard Branston type pickle with the cheese. There was a mix of brown and white bread.
The scones were large, fresh and rather good. However, given the size of the scones, there was no way the mini jar of jam was going to do both scones. My husband went off to try and get some more. Over ten minutes later he returned with a second jar each plus an extra pot of clotted cream. He had had to queue to get them as there were no staff around, and pay 65p extra per item. With these extra items, we were able to jam and cream our scones sufficiently.
The éclair was the size that you would buy in a bakers shop. It was a good size and was fresh and tasty. The slice of chocolate cake was moist and very rich. It was plenty large enough too. In fact, we both struggled to eat it as we were both so full already. A very rare occurrence!!
The tea was made with two teabags per pot. Initially it was about the right strength for us but it became quite strong over time. Each pot was big enough to fill four cups. We didn’t ask for a refill as we didn’t need it on this occasion.
Service was very quick and helpful at the start once we had found someone to help. However, that was the last time we saw staff. We had to search for someone to pay at the end!! The whole place was very busy with people everywhere and we noticed adverts asking for staff so we concluded they were desperately understaffed.