Bites: Devon tea rooms
Saturday 15 February 2003
The Gallery Café, Devon Guild of Craftsmen, Riverside Mill, Bovey Tracey (01626 832223)
Craft centres and carrot cake are as inseparable as hikers and walking boots. The Devon Guild of Craftsmen's gallery and café is the best in the area. The café's clean-lined, not lacy, the ceramics and glass are contemporary, not lumpy, and the cakes are exemplary. Or sit outside in a mill building's courtyard for cream tea, ginger cake, rocky road, lemon tart and meringues, with the likes of pork and Luscombe cider stew for lunch.
The Georgian Tea Rooms, Broadway House, 35 High Street, Topsham, near Exeter (01392 873465)
Busy, busy, busy. The wallpaper, the website, the tea rooms – there's a lot going on in the handsome 18th-century guest house. Not least the teas, elevated to an artform, for, as www.broadwayhouse.com says, cream teas are a big thing in Devon. Scones come warm from the oven, with clotted cream and home-made jam, all on flowery china, brought by girls in pinnies.
Roger's Tearoom, 49 Waterside, Haven Road, Exeter (01392 433313)
Down on Exeter quay, Roger's goes overboard on traditional teas. Five types of scone alone include apple, date or cheese. And if the cream tea isn't an adequate sufficiency, how about poached eggs on toast, and lemon drizzle cake, hazelnut meringue, or lemon curd roulade? Teas leaves are loose but the protocol of afternoon indulgence is strictly observed. How tea used to be. But probably better.
Studio Teashop, Kingsbridge Lane, Ashburton (01364 653258)
Miss Marple would be right at home, say the new owners (as of January) of the 15th-century woollen mill tearoom. A little light sleuthing – clues include displays of local artists' work and the tea room's name – reveals this was once an artist's studio. Deduce too, from the wafting smells, that cakes are baked in the kitchen. As are scones, and heartier specials like spiced beef chilli and pepper, leek and chickpea crumble. Tea bags? Not on your nelly.
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