Review Number Eight

8) The Wayside Cafe – Dartmoor

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Can’t believe how long it has been since I’ve gone out for a cream tea. I was at it at least once a week before the summer heat glazed in. I guess I’ve had a season of anti-overkill. I needed to give my addiction a rest. I needed a cream-less recovery, I was rehabbing from jam and I had scone cold-turkey.

(See what I did there? Aren’t I funny?)

Anyway, after a many, many months of avoiding this Devonshire delicacy my friend Becca decided enough was enough. She has always been my faithful scone eating companion and it was her brilliant idea to end my lent.

So, off in her new car we went, to have a refreshing jaunt around the moorish country sides of Dartmoor. The only place that has realised it’s actually November (everywhere else in Devon hasn’t quite got that particular memo yet). We were greeted with an unexpected wintery breeze and a lot of waterlogged soil.

I have always loved the dramatic landscape of the moors and there is nothing like a hike up a Tor to get your appetite going. We managed to clamber up two Tor’s before our bellies started to grumble… slightly… and I found animalistic pleasure in journeying through the heather and jumping over all the boulders. I was the braver of the two (of course); I battled the hellish winds to stand on top of the large conglomeration of rocks while Becca remained dignified on the sheltered ground.

I almost got blown over doing the super man pose! It was terribly scary for everyone involved…

Sure it was.

Yeah… Becca just laughed at me and once I had regained my balance I scarpered of those rocks quicker than… well… a slow moving person… it was a pitiful escapade.

As was the picture that was taken! I looked nothing like superman… all that fear and effort for a picture that looked like I was just pushing an invisible rock. Super.

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After that we decided it was time to seek warmth and nibbles. So hopping back in the car, with moist boots, we made our way to Widecombe. A quaint village with gift shops, cafes and an awful lot of sentimental value, for me anyway. This was the place that I transformed from girl to girlfriend and being back there without my Bandicoot felt like a sordid affair.

‘AH WELL! SCONES ARE A CALLING! I’M SURE MY ASHY WILL FORGIVE ME!’ were my hungry, hungry words when we drove into the car park.

Luckily ‘our’ cafe wasn’t open so Becca and I sought refuge in the one next door; The Wayside Cafe.

It was nice.

Nice?

(Yeah I know… what a blasé word to use, but it really was the epitome of nice.)

In few more simple words – it was clean, warm and open.

I kid, let’s get into the details! The room was like an elongated village hall, the wooden floorboards made every sound echo and the large pane windows allowed the last dregs of sunlight to flood in. If it didn’t remind me of a school canteen so much, it would’ve been really quaint. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t the worst vibe in the world, I just had that haunting feeling that if I spoke too loudly a teacher would come rushing in to tell me off. I’m sure if they replaced the brown plastic chairs and vinyl tablecloths that would all change. The service in there was lightening fast though; I can’t deny how attentive the staff were in there. Our cream teas were in front of us almost as soon as we had ordered them and it wasn’t long before we were tucking into them too.

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So… time to get back into serious reviewing mode, man it has been a while, time to look over the old ‘scone-scale’ me-thinks!

On a single plate of blue china they had served all three ingredients. The scone; warm and of a decent size, was settled next to two generous helpings of cream and jam. Never before have I experienced such a liberal act. Usually these condiments are presented in pots or miniature jars but here they had simply scooped them up and plonked them on the plate alongside the bun. Saves on washing up I’m sure, but I couldn’t help but feel this was an act of anarchy…

Allowing these dollops of pleasure to roam free-range on the earthenware, liberated from the confining vessels of glass and bone china, certainly danced a messy dance on my expectations. I’d make a great speech maker wouldn’t I? Haha!

It was different and after many months of forgoing this treat I didn’t feel disappointed. I felt content and reasonably full afterwards, the tea definitely made my chilly hands feel better (even if by the second helping it had gone weak and grey, seems to always happen to us doesn’t it Becca?) They were tasty little morsels, the perfect balance of crumbly and moist which I liked very much and they were warm… WARM!!! Nom nom nom…

*Continues to nom until the nomming subsides.*

It wasn’t the best scone I had ever tasted but it certainly wasn’t horrible either. It was good (Back to the simple words eh?) Once we both visited the school lavatory… I mean cafe toilets… ahem… we went on our way, driving off into the dwindling sunset whilst boogieing along to a Now Hits CD.

It was a triumphant return, one that inspired me to get back on the old reviewing horse, I shan’t ever forget it.

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The photo’s will certainly help! (Hope you’ve noticed my face in this post… I am truly embracing the fact that this is MY blog now! I’m the one in the puffy maroon number… just in case you didn’t quite cotton on…)   

Review Number Six

6) Boston Tea Party – Exeter

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On Friday the 26th of April I had the pleasure of experiencing what Boston’s had to offer, by way of a cream tea, with two of my fellow connoisseur’s; my Aladdin and my Becca.

It was an odd experience because I never usually go there for that particular beverage. I always tend to order a delicious white hot chocolate with one of their blackberry and apple flapjacks smothered in a generous layer of yogurt. Yum. Yum. But today we had planned to make an exception. Bandicoot and I had conquered an empty table (which by the way is really hard to do during the lunch rush hour) and were waiting for my less than punctual friend to arrive.

We were starving, eager and uncommunicative by the time she graced us with her presence. So you can imagine how quickly we rushed through the pleasantries and forced her to accompany Ash Ketchum with our order.

We, the couple, decided to share a cream tea (after the last episode at A La Ronde I wasn’t going to ruin myself again) and to consume some of their toasted sarnies. Becca, however, decided to go for a brownie instead… WHAT?! I know, right? Apparently she was too full from lunch and couldn’t handle a whole one to herself! Disgraceful!

BUT, I had to forgive her, chastising a girl fresh out of work from a long shift is unfair and cruel. So I gave her a warning that if she did it again, next time, I wouldn’t be as … understanding. It would be wise for you to remember that Becca, that a one time offender is all you can be, perhaps I shall text you daily reminders … would you like that?

Constant Cream Tea Rejecters are rogues and fiends; not to be trusted – remember that all!

So once that unfortunate matter was settled we moved on to the most important concern of all – eating the cream teas.

These were the notes I made whilst gobbling (pictured below on their comment slip):

1)      Not enough sauces

2)      Toasted without permission

3)      Pre-sliced

4)      Small teapots, but good tea

5)      Cheese Droplets

6)      “It’s not emulsion” – several layers

7)      Spreads well, not flaky nor brakey

8)      No choice of Jam favours

9)      Moist

6/10

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I feel some of these points need to be explained …

For some reason they had decided to pre-slice and toast our scones for us, I have never come across such a heinous act before and was confused as to why they felt this was necessary. I am not incapable of cutting a scone in half, no, in fact I’ve had plenty of practice! And the toasting thing? Baffling. The only benefits such a function gave us was that it made spreading the cream on top easier and prevented the scone from excessive crumbling, other than that; pretty redundant.

The presentation of the food was nice enough though; the buns came to us on a beautiful plate of blue china and the sandwiches in these funky looking terracotta bowls with tissue. For one this cream tea would be decent enough, but it was a lucky thing I ordered my own pot of peppermint tea because there wouldn’t have been enough for Ketchum and I from the one pot they gave us. Tea was of excellent quality but I wouldn’t have minded some more. And the sauces…? There was not enough, not enough at all. I mean what we were given did cover each of our halves but it didn’t feel like an indulgence. Instead it was pristine, neat and somewhat flat. I spread and spread layers and layers of cream and jam but I felt forced to hold back in case there wasn’t enough.

Oh and number 8) is self explanatory.

As far as looks go I was dubious and unimpressed, I was worried that because they had toasted the buns they would be dry and crispy.

Lucky, my criticisms stop as soon as they got into my mouth.

What? Really? Yep!

They were… MOIST and NOMMY! Totally not what I was expecting at all. The jam was sweet and the cream was nourishing. It was certainly a ‘Boston Tea Party’ in my mouth … (ha ha get it? … ahem …) The Moroccan mint tea I had went SO well with it too, I had my happy cat face on every time I took a bite and a sip, I enjoyed having my expectations altered. All those apprehensive feelings I had, prior to my mouth party, dissolved along with each morsel that was being devoured by digestive enzymes.

So, ya, on the scale of ‘orgasmic to nauseating’ it hit the satisfactory mark. It did the job. A 6/10 according to my lover is what it deserves.

Oh and number 5)? Well those cheese droplets came from our delicious Sandwiches; Aladdin had an Eldorado and I had a Hot Chick – super tasty and super crispy – they toasted them to the max…

Perhaps they just really love their toaster? I accidentally breathed out while taking a bite of my Chick and this embarrassing cloud of crumbs blew forth from my lips! It went everywhere! In my tea, in the jam, in Ketchum’s tea, in Becca’s face, on Bandicoots lap and ALL over the table … I don’t think anyone could’ve missed it. Reminded me of that scene in the Little Mermaid when Ariel blows Grimsby’s smoking pipe and the tobacco covers his face …

Almost AS embarrassing as the jam knife incident when it jumped out of my hand and stabbed my side on its way down to the floor (that happened on this very same occasion by the way – Boston’s obviously wanted to humiliate me this particular trip). So unfair.

Anyway, back to the cheese droplets, they were just droplets of cheese from our sandwiches which I ate. Even Bandicoots droplets… yeah that’s right I ate ‘em.

To sum up – deceptively good but I recommend don’t share one between two unless you buy an extra pot of tea. Also don’t feel threatened by the seating upstairs, just because you have to share a table with a stranger doesn’t mean they will bother you, but if it makes you uncomfortable avoid going at lunch time and maybe you’ll be lucky enough to land a sofa!

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Oh! They also like to promote local artists in their tearooms so keep an eye out! Jane Perkins is currently on show and her work is amazing! (I’ve tagged her website if you want a looksie!)