Food & Drink
Life is sweet: 6 of the best places for afternoon tea
From finger sandwiches and fluffy scones to elaborate cakes and chilled Champagne, here’s where to indulge in the most deliciously decadent afternoon teas in North Norfolk.
Best for sparkle and a Michelin star
Under the experienced eye of chef/proprietor Galton Blackiston, country house hotel Morston Hall continues to excel. It’s got a Michelin star, no less, and often features in ‘Best Restaurants in the World’ lists. Not surprisingly, the afternoon tea doesn’t disappoint. It’s served in the light-filled sun lounge, where guests can enjoy views of the manicured gardens as they make their way through multiple tiers of sandwiches, scones (best lathered in clotted cream and homemade preserve) and delicate cakes and pastries. Add a glass of Morston Hall Grand Resérve Champagne for extra glitz.
£34 per person
Morston Hall, Morston, NR25 7AA; morstonhall.com
BRIARFIELDS HOTEL, TITCHWELL
Best for a savoury menu by the sea
Nestled on the coast road between RSPB Titchwell and Royal West Norfolk Golf Club at Brancaster, Briarfields Hotel offers uninterrupted vistas across salt marsh and out to sea. Though they do a classic afternoon tea (sandwiches, scones, cake et al), savoury enthusiasts will want to book the Nelson’s Afternoon Tea. Think pheasant sausage rolls, deep-fried brie, mini burger, smoked salmon and dill quiche, roast beef and red onion ciabatta, and ham hock terrine with pickles – all washed down with half a Briarfields’ bitter or Tawny lager. Walk it off afterwards on the nature reserve or at nearby Brancaster beach.
£27 per person
Briarfields Hotel, Titchwell, PE31 8BB; briarfieldshotelnorfolk.co.uk
TILLY’S CAFE, BURNHAM MARKET
Best for a warm welcome and wonderful cakes
Tilly’s is something of a Burnham Market institution – indeed, it’s the longest-running café in the village. It may be small, but the ever-changing menu is extensive, covering breakfast, lunch and tea. And while it’s all delicious, the cakes are standout – coffee and walnut, carrot, avocado and zucchini, key lime pie, mini cherry bakewell, caramel apple pie… And that’s before we get to the chocolate temptations (the honeycomb toffee tiffin is not to be missed). Afternoon tea includes a selection of these sweet treats, plus sandwiches, scones, tea or coffee. Warning: you might need to loosen your belt.
£12 per person
Tilly’s Café, Burnham Market, PE31 8HF; tillys-cafe.co.uk
Best for royalists and traditionalists
Afternoon tea at Sandringham – the monarchy’s country retreat since 1862 – is fit for a king or queen. The menu is seasonal and local, served on pretty botanical porcelain inspired from a collection belonging to Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. Expect such delights as Cley smoked salmon mousse in a homemade cracker stack, Sandringham scotch egg and freshly baked scones made using flour from the estate. The sweet-toothed will love the dainty desserts, including creme patisserie with winter berries and gingerbread cheesecake. There’s a pared back menu for children (£16.50).
£30 per person
Sandringham Estate, Sandringham, PE35 6EN; sandringham.co.uk
HEACHAM MANOR, HUNSTANTON
Best for teeing off before tea
Heacham Manor Golf Club, near Hunstanton, is an undulating 18-hole coastal course suitable for every level of player. After tee time, it’s teatime. Make your way to the adjoining hotel, where the Mulberry restaurant’s afternoon tea is a generous affair. Choose from the tea menu, from Assam to Afternoon Blend, and let the feasting begin: scones, sandwiches, Victoria Sponge, raspberry macarons, chocolate mousse… Gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan and vegetarian options are available with prior notice. Make an afternoon of it with a Kir Royale or a glass of prosecco.
£20.95 per person
Heacham Manor, Heacham, PE31 7JX; heacham-manor.co.uk
Best for tea connoisseurs and coastal views
Afternoon tea at the Blakeney Hotel is served in the upstairs lounge with its squishy armchairs and enormous window offering a bird’s eye view across the small harbour to the marsh beyond. Tea takers can select from a menu that includes more unusual choices such as Jade Sword Green and Jasmine Silver Needle, while a stand comes laden with finger sandwiches, scones and cakes. It’s particularly magical at Christmas, when the hotel is bedecked in hundreds of twinkling lights, adding to the yuletide vibes. They require 24 hours’ notice, so do book ahead.
£19 per person
Blakeney Hotel, Blakeney, NR25 7NE; blakeney-hotel.co.uk