Despite being incredibly popular, the Nook on the Square has now closed so I’m afraid you won’t be able to get a Christmas Afternoon Tea of your own. Feel free to drool over these pictures though.
I’ve written about the Nook on the Square in Dunchurch before. Quaint surroundings, yummy breakfasts, and the allure of a famous square quiche that I’ve never tried. I was absolutely sure I was going to order this when I next returned. But that was before I saw the ad for Christmas Afternoon Tea. The quiche could wait!I’m quite partial to an afternoon tea. It’s something I tend to do with my mum and we’ve agreed we don’t do anywhere near as much of as we should. Although that volume of tea and cake could prove slightly damaging to one’s health if you have it too regularly. Our last afternoon tea excursion at Billesley Manor was fab, but the Nook’s Christmas offering promised to be something slightly different, a bit of a variation on a theme.
So, on a wintry wet Sunday, instead of battling with the hordes to do Christmas shopping, we escaped to Dunchurch for a few hours of mummy daughter time.Despite being an escape from the madness, the Nook certainly wasn’t quiet. It was packed, and I’d been lucky to book us a table at short notice. But it was a nice atmosphere. Hustley and bustley, with friends, families, and couples enjoying a little pre-Christmas catch up. We were offered the first of many cups of English Breakfast Tea by our friendly waitress, who didn’t balk when Mum did her usual forceful refusal of tea (weird at afternoon tea I know, but she hates the stuff, just loves the cake!) and asked for coffee instead.
We had decided to opt out of the Kir Royale, given how much alcohol we’re likely to consume this Christmas. We were apparently due to get a free glass of cranberry lemonade which actually didn’t arrive in the end. But given how busy they were we decided it was no big deal and got on with our catch-up.The tea was magnificent, as they always are. I think it appeals to the greedy kid in me, the prospect of all that food just for me and someone else. And on this one, not just sandwiches, cakes and scones, but crisps, fruit, macarons, mousse and more. A Christmassy feast on a plate.
Sandwiches first. The bread for all of them was soft and fresh, with the crusts cut off of course. Egg mayo wasn’t conpletely overcome with mayo, and had a nice added bit of texture from the chives. The cheddar and winter chutney was a well-balanced combination of mature cheese with piquant, fruity chutney.
Smoked salmon and cream cheese were deliciously indulgent with a bit of warmth from some black pepper. And my favourite – turkey and cranberry. The turkey was deliciously moist (I think I’ve said several times recently that I hate dried out turkey) and the cranberry lip-smackingly tart.From there, it was to the cake. Christmas cake was moist and fruity, as to be expected. Not the best I’ve ever had, same goes for the mince pies. But they were nice enough and definitely good for the whole Christmassy feel. The slices of orange, raspberries, cranberries and redcurrants were a nice touch. Not just pretty, but quite refreshing amid all the sugar, butter and calories.I’m not sure if the mini macarons were made by the Nook, but they were rather beautiful. A Bake Off-worthy sheen, the squidginess of a soft sugary hug, fruit jam in the middle of the pink one and rich chocolate inside the other. Sugary as hell of course, so good job they were ‘mini’. Anything bigger and I might have ended up bouncing round the room like a Gummy Bear after some gummy juice.
No, that wasn’t the end. Mum and I don’t always agree on what order to eat the various components of an afternoon tea but this time we agreed that the shot glass of Bailey’s white chocolate mousse would come last.
I have to say, it wasn’t quite as perfect as I hoped (the alcohol had slightly separated and sat at the bottom of the glass), but was certainly an indulgent sugary, creamy, artery-clogging treat to finish us off.Needless to say, neither of us needed to eat for the rest of the day (or the next). As mother daughter treats go, this was a pretty good one and at £15.95 I don’t think it was too unreasonable. I enjoyed endless cups of tea, mum was kept coffee’d up, and we consumed a week’s worth of calories in about two hours.
The food was fresh and tasty, and was a nice twist on the classic afternoon tea. The Nook is the perfect place for something like this – cosy, cute and warm. It was a bit manic at times, but that’s just the tiny downside of how successful the Nook has become. I think I’d rather put up with that than the opposite, and risk losing such a lovely little gem. After all – I still need to try that quiche!