Cost – £19.95 (May 2022)
Parking and Access – There is some on street parking available in Hunstanton, though most of it is time limited during the summer months. There is also a large public car park just a short walk from the tearoom. The tearoom is accessible on the flat.
I did not notice any toilet facilities in the tearoom. However, there may well have been some, our bizarre experience meant that we didn’t get a chance to find out.
Background – We had spotted Berni Beans Vintage Tearoom on a previous visit to Hunstanton. We found it just as it was shutting and were just looking for a menu, when a lovely lady came out and spoke to us. I asked if they did Afternoon Tea. The lady told us they did and gave me their card so that I could book when we were going to be over that way again. She was very friendly and helpful, and we decided we would definitely be trying their Afternoon Tea sometime soon.
We finally rang to make a booking some six months later, speaking to the same friendly and helpful lady on the phone to make a booking for two days later. Unfortunately, this lady was not working in the tearoom on the day we had booked.
Contents per person – four rectangular sandwiches (tuna mayonnaise, ham and mustard (three sandwiches between the two of us), and cheese with onion relish (three sandwiches between the two of us)). 2 small/medium fruit scones, mini jar strawberry jam and a small tub of Rodda’s clotted cream. One slice of cappuccino cake and one slice of carrot cake between the two of us. A pot of tea or coffee.
Options available – There we no options available.
Comments – Well, this turned out to be one of the most bizarre and unpleasant experiences we have ever had with an Afternoon Tea! I feel sad writing this review as the lady we had spoken to before was so helpful. However, I can only review the experience we had at the time.
We arrived at the time we had booked, and were shown inside by a young man. We were then shown to a table set ready in a corner of a small tearoom. We were also asked for our name, which appeared to be checked off in a book.
The table was laid with mismatched vintage china and a table runner.
After we had sat down, we were asked what we would like to drink. We both asked for a standard tea. This arrived quickly, followed by a teacup of crisps each, along with a comment that we were booked for the full traditional Afternoon Tea.
Just after we arrived, the lady working in the tearoom, who was not the lady we had spoken to before, appeared and started laying the table right next to ours, for another Afternoon Tea. As soon as the table was laid, another couple was shown in and seated at this table, which was around one foot away from our table.
Then the weirdness began.
The lady who worked in the tearoom started apologising to the newly seated couple, who must have waited no more than a couple of minutes from arrival. She said that she was very sorry there was a delay in seating them but some other people had come in without booking, taking their table and causing a disruption in the tearoom, and that they had not yet gone. She told them she was going to compensate them with a bottle of Prosecco. She then went on to ask about their allergies and all the adjustments they wanted to their Tea (none of the sandwiches were right for them, etc).
We had made our usual request of no mustard in our sandwiches on the phone, when we booked. However, nothing had been mentioned on arrival, so my companion mentioned to the lady, as she left the new couple, that we had not been asked but we would like to check that the message about mustard had got through. The lady rather rudely replied that we had no booking, so they did not know about the mustard request. He explained to the lady that we had rung two days earlier and spoken to a lady. She continued to deny there was a booking. In the meantime, I had realised that the people she had been telling the other couple about, that were causing all the disruption, was us! I was shocked and rather appalled that she had been so outspoken, and downright rude, about us, right next to our table!! I have never seen such appalling behaviour by someone working in a tearoom!
The table next to us was provided with a full bottle of Prosecco in a wine cooler, on the house, to compensate for their two to three minute delay in being seated.
The lady then came and told us that there was a delay as the sandwiches were all having to be remade as we didn’t want the mustard and hadn’t told them. Bizarre! Even if they were remaking them, surely it would only be the ham sandwiches? The other couple, on the other hand, wanted tuna without mayo, cheese without chutney, no egg, etc.
A few minutes later, the other couple were brought their tea stand by the lady, followed by ours delivered by a young man. At the same time, the lady told the other couple that she would bring out some more sandwiches for them as well. She then brought out another whole plate of different, fancier sandwiches. We received none and were not offered any more.
Throughout the Tea, the lady was falling over herself to serve the other couple, whilst only occasionally speaking to us. They were told to take their time and no need to hurry out when they finished.
At the end of our Tea, our table was immediately cleared. My companion had not eaten his crisps, which was commented on. He explained they tasted horrible. She told him he had been given prawn cocktail flavoured crisps!!! He was then offered a different flavour. We had finished, so he said no. At this point, we were immediately brought the card machine to pay. We felt we were being chased out. As my companion paid for our teas, we were told we had been given a 10% discount for the crisps and tea problems (see below). The lady then thrust an envelope at him, saying we were being given a voucher for a free cream tea (for one), and that, actually, they had got a booking for us after all!!! We were flabbergasted! We left without comment, just stunned at the way we had been treated and all that had happened. I have never had such appalling treatment. We will not be returning for the cream tea for one.
Having explained all the bizarre way we were treated by the lady in the tearoom, I will now describe the Afternoon Tea we received, which was actually mostly pretty nice.
We were asked what drink we wanted soon after we had sat down. Although we later discovered different types of tea were available, we were not told this, so we just asked for standard tea. The tea arrived in a red, white and black teapot along with a tiny white milk jug.
Unfortunately, the tea was extremely strong. We discovered there were four teabags in the small teapot!! We asked for a new pot with fewer teabags in. We were brought a new, smaller pot with one teabag in and another dry teabag in case we needed it. I asked for a glass of diet cola and my teacup was taken away. The new tea was of an acceptable strength for my companion. We were not offered a further top up.
The Afternoon Tea arrived on a three-tier cake stand with mismatched vintage china plates.
The sandwiches were fairly well filled, fresh and were tasty. However, some of the sandwiches were small, as though three had been cut from each half instead of two. There was a mix of brown and white breads.
The sandwiches were accompanied by a teacup of crisps each. The crisps were flavoured, which seemed very odd to put with sandwiches. We were not told they would be flavoured. Our two cups of crisps were two different flavours.
The small/medium sized fruit scones were not warmed up. However, as we went to start eating them, the lady came and asked if we wanted them warmed!! Obviously, it was much too late by then, so we said no. The scones were reasonably well fruited and were fresh. They were also tasty.
The jam was served in an opened mini jam jar. It was slightly runny and smooth. There was barely enough jam for the two scones.
The Rodda’s tub of clotted cream was also just about enough for the two scones.
As you will know if you have read many of my reviews, I do not like a Tea where there is not two of everything. On the other hand, I do like a Tea with proper slices of cake! For this Tea we had two proper slices of cake, but they were two different cakes! In the end, we cut each slice in half so that we could both have a piece of each cake. Both cakes were fresh and tasty, though I did not like finding candied peel in my carrot cake!
So, the food we were given was generally good, with some odd moments (eg flavoured crisps). However, the service we received was beyond disgraceful. Especially as our booking was there all along, as they admitted as we paid. We left the tearoom feeling angry and disappointed.
All opinions expressed in this review are my own. The photographs are all my own.
I remain completely anonymous and always pay for my Afternoon Teas. They are never gifted to me by the businesses reviewed.
I am the legal copyright holder of the content and images on this blog.
That kind of service is unacceptable and so unprofessional, especially the passive aggressive comments. I would have been very upset too. Even if the food is good, bad service ruins the whole experience. Customers should be made to feel welcome and appreciated… and treated fairly. They clearly fell short of this.