Last week I visited Ely with a friend and we decided to have afternoon tea instead of lunch at the award-winning Peacocks Tearoom. Located by the river in a beautiful setting this quintessentially English tearoom was voted a BBC Good Food favourite tearoom in 2015.
Also listed as no.1 out of 93 restaurants in Ely on Trip Advisor Peacocks had a big reputation to uphold, and as readers of my blog will know I am on a mission this year to find the perfect ‘Afternoon tea’. We joined a short queue of other prospective customers waiting outside before we could enter the tea-shop itself. This is because Peacocks do not accept bookings, and as it was a lovely sunny Saturday afternoon, this was a peak time for visitors.
After a short wait (less than 10 minutes) we were greeted and seated at a table in the Tearoom, although if we had preferred we could have sat outside in the pretty garden. Our order was taken promptly and my friend and I both chose ‘The Full Monty Afternoon Tea’ at £16.75 per person. Peacocks pride themselves on offering the widest selection of loose-leaf tea in the world, and we shared a pot of Ceylon from 70 blends on their tea list, which is my personal favourite. After a wait of no more than 15 mins the appetising spread was served on a three-tier cake stand. It had a selection of finger sandwiches, two warm homemade fruit scones, with Cornish clotted cream and a choice of jam, and a slice of cake of your choice.
We felt the white and granary bread used in the sandwiches was rather dry as if they has been made up for a while, but the traditional fillings were excellent, and consisted of ham and wholegrain mustard, cream cheese and cucumber, smoked salmon and egg mayonnaise and cress. The scones were still warm and very light, and the jam and cream was plentiful and delicious. The cakes we chose were chocolate zuccini (courgette) for my companion, and lemon drizzle with lavender for me. The wrong choice perhaps as I found it too strong on the lavender flavour, and I didn’t actually like the combination. The slices we had were enormous and my friend felt her cake was too rich with an excess of icing. We were offered a jug of pouring cream to accompany the cakes but we agreed this was a number of calories too far!
At this point I asked for a second pot of tea thinking that there would not be any additional charge. I have had set afternoon teas at many different cafes, hotels and restaurants over the years and I have always been offered a 2nd pot as part of the tea with no extra charge, so I didn’t expect one. Therefore when the bill came it was £40 in total which surprised me. I found that I had been charged £6.50 for an additional pot of tea for two. I did query this but the waitress said that the extra pot of tea was charged for at £3.25 per person, which I felt was rather late in the day to tell me, and If I had known I would have asked for a free glass of tap water to quench my thirst!
So in summary Peacocks is a pretty traditional tearoom in a great location. I think it’s rather expensive and not terribly good value in my opinion, but we may have fared better if we had chosen other things from their extensive and delicious menu. This place seemed very popular with tourists and locals, but in my case I came away feeling disappointed and rather cross.
One good point to mention is that although it was very busy there were plenty of serving staff on duty and the service was first class without a long wait. I would make a return visit if I was in Ely again, but I wouldn’t recommend this afternoon tea.
Tel: 01353 661100 www.peacockstearoom.co.uk