Foodies love nothing better than finding a hidden gem on their travels and that’s exactly what happened to me this summer when I came across The Garden Tea Room at Over Haddon near Bakewell. For those of you who haven’t visited the area, Bakewell is a town in the Derbyshire Dales. My family were travelling in the beautiful Peak District and as people who love a good cup of tea and slice of cake we decided to have a quick look on Trip Advisor to see where might be best to sample some Bakewell Tart since we were in the area – the reviews were clear, head out of Bakewell to the small village of Over Haddon and that’s exactly what we did.
When you arrive in the village, park in the car park in the centre of the village and walk to the tea room. The Garden Tea Room is owned by Karen and Mark, a husband and wife team who run the tea room out of their own kitchen. Tea, coffee and cake is served to you in their garden with beautiful views over the Lathkill Dale, although the couple’s own garden is also to be admired. Seating is on the terrace and some seating is available under a canopy should it rain.
We arrived to a warm welcome from Karen and Mark. We struggled to choose from the large selection of cakes on offer: bakewell tart, treacle tart, lemon drizzle cake, Victoria sponge, coconut sponge, coffee & walnut cake, eccles cake – there was more but that’s as far as my memory serves. I’m kicking myself I didn’t take a photo – a kitchen table covered with an amazing selection of cake and tart, all home-made by the couple and easily the most variety I’ve seen in a long time!
After much deliberation we ordered 2 x Bakewell tart, treacle tart, lemon drizzle cake, a pot of tea for two (and I mean a proper pot of tea for two with multiple refills from the pot) and 2 hot chocolates. I was blown away by the generosity of the serving and I’m still in awe that my 6 year old managed to finish her huge slab of cake! After much sharing between us to sample each cake/tart it was unanimous, we had struck gold. Now I will say this, I’m a fairly decent baker and I find I am often disappointed when out for cake and tea, I frequently walk away thinking I could have done better myself. My children often comment “Mummy its not as good as yours”. But not today, I am happy to say that this baking was far superior to anything I could bake, which made the £12.50 bill at the end of it all the more astonishing – worth every penny and a whole lot more.
What makes this tea room is Karen and Mark themselves, who are the heart and soul of the place. You feel like you are visiting friends for a cuppa and a catch up, the welcome is warm and friendly. The couple originally started off by putting out water bowls at their garden gate for the dogs who had been out walking in the dales with their owners. They felt bad that nothing was put out for the walkers themselves so they started putting out flasks of juice – all free of charge. Its from this generosity of spirit that the idea to open a tea room grew and they now invite people into their garden for tea, coffee and homemade cake. Karen and I talked at length about baking, recipes and in particular the need to weigh eggs for cake! Much to my surprise Karen kindly shared her recipe for a basic sponge cake, then how she develops this recipe for other cakes – how many bakers are than generous? Since coming home I have baked every cake using Karen’s recipe and I am happy to say that my cakes are much improved for it. Next I was in their kitchen chatting to Mark and discussing pastry and baking trays (seriously his Bakewell Tart is the best I’ve eaten), whilst my youngest daughter fed dog biscuits to their Scottie Dogs, she is normally frightened of dogs but not in this instance!
The whole experience was welcoming and we all left an hour later feeling more than satisfied. The bar has been set high and I’ll compare all future Tea Rooms to The Garden Tea Room. The only thing left to say – if you happen to be in the area, please visit, you won’t be disappointed. I’m now looking for an excuse to return!0