Raise a glass to Champagne afternoon tea

Afternoon tea at Jesmond Dene House is a very indulgent treat, as you’d expect.

The boutique characterful hotel, hidden away in leafy Jesmond Dene, has long been a favourite – and over the years I have enjoyed dinners, lunches, brunches and events here; as well as interviewing a couple of sports stars, and even been on hand for the occasional fashion shoot.

The independently-owned hotel is such a landmark spot – the Arts & Crafts building so handsome. I never tire of visiting this serene tranquil retreat.

So a chance to sample the new summer afternoon tea at this smart country house hotel marked a welcome return.   

Our table in the conservatory, just by the open doors, overlooking the terrace, was perfect. We even spotted a cheeky squirrel nibbling the leftovers from an alfresco lunch! The leafy view was calming – and far from being a stuffy, buttoned-up affair, afternoon tea was actually very chilled and relaxed.

We opted for Champagne afternoon tea – well it was very nearly the weekend. And when the sweet and savoury delicacies came into view, it was a sight to bring tiers (jokes) to the eyes!

We savoured a glass of Palmer & Co Brut Champagne with our afternoon tea, along with Earl Grey from a selection of loose leaf teas. We were offered endless refills of tea too, which was lovely.

Afternoon tea here may not be the cheapest but it most certainly is one of the best in the North East. (My daughters made the mistake of trying out a cut-price tea in town – and let’s just say, never again!)

The setting, ambience and quality of foodie offerings here is second to none. 

We enjoyed delicious freshly-made finger sandwiches – cheese savoury on wholemeal bread, and chicken and avocado with rocket cress on white bread. In a surprising twist on the usual endless sarnies, Jesmond Dene House also offer a tasty asparagus and salmon quiche (the pastry is so good) and sausage roll (beautifully flaky pastry, not greasy in the slightest, and substantial meaty filling – definitely an elevated offering!) Both made for a pleasant change. Head pastry chef, Kristian Branch, take a bow…

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Three plain, fruit (with cinnamon) and cheese mini-scones were all super-fresh. Accompanying home-made seedy raspberry and strawberry jams and clotted cream transformed the plain and fruit scones into calorific delights.

The cakes were like mini works of art – and so beautifully presented. And they tasted the business too. Strawberry and elderflower macaron, with strawberry garnish, was delicately flavoured, and looked so pretty; raspberry and coconut sundae, layers of loveliness; deconstructed lemon cheesecake a tangy hit; and leaving the best until last, chocolate, orange and almond truffle. This was the piece de resistance for me – a crisp chocolatey shell giving way to soft, gooey, intensely flavoured chocolatey middle.

We took a couple of hours over tea, but could happily have lingered longer; so chilled were we. The attention to detail is all there and the service attentive… this is a luxe treat that deserves to be savoured.

Afternoon tea with a glass of Champagne, £37.50 per person; Afternoon tea, with tea (or cafetiere coffee), £25 per person.www.jesmonddenehouse.co.uk 

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