It was a stunning Sunday afternoon, so my family and I decided to go out for afternoon tea in Cambridge.
There is a lot of great places for afternoon tea in the city, so making a decision was a real challenge. I decided to ask The Cambridge Foodies and the Cream Tea Tasters for advice, which resulted in a lot of great suggestions.
One which came up numerous times was the Gonville Hotel on Parker’s Piece. This is a place which has a very sentimental meaning for us as a family as my mother had her wedding at this venue many years ago, so we decided to go revisit for nostalgic reasons.
The marquee was tastefully laid out and had a lovely garden theme. There was a central bar in the middle which gave the staff a great location to keep an eye on us without having to come and check on us too frequently. The staff were attentive and available at a heartbeat if needed. Everything had be thought out really well.
The sandwiches came out first. There was no option to chose which type of sandwiches you wanted like at Peacocks in Ely but there were all the classics – smoked salmon & cream cheese, Westcombe cheddar & tomato, free-range Sunny farm egg mayonnaise & cress.
As a table we all agreed that the smoked salmon & cream cheese was superb. I am not usually a fan of egg mayonnaise & cress but they delivered an exceptional example of what this humble sandwich can be. The tomato and cheese was very good too.
Once the sandwiches were finished we were presented with the shared tower of scones and sweet treats.
Unfortunately, I am not very adventurous with my tea so ended up with the decaffeinated English breakfast (boo, hiss, I know! Sorry!). The teapots were very large and were shared between two. Once we requested more tea we were then given ONE EACH which was basically bottomless tea unless you are a big tea drinker.
The scones were a great size and you could tell they were made on site as they were incredibly fresh. They are certainly larger than other places I have visited such as Carriages or Quy Mill. There were four of us at the table which left us with two each but they were so large we struggled to finish them between us.
The cream was a reasonably small portion for four people but they were more than happy to bring out more at no extra charge. One issue we had with the cream was that it was quite hard and broke up the scones on spreading, which resulted in quite a mess. The jam was quite nice but nothing outstanding.
The real star of the show was the “sweet treats” which consisted of an assortment of different goodies to enjoy. Pistachio and raspberry financier, millionaire cake, lemon posset, vanilla and olive oil macaron, and passion fruit and ginger chocolates. You could tell they really put a lot of effort into this and is something which you could forgive a place scrimping on to save on costs but everything here was excellent and must have been the largest portion of the cost.
I have always disliked macarons but these were easily some of the best I have ever had. The texture was fantastic and there was a mixture of different flavours to enjoy.
The chocolates were incredible and we suspect were made in a chocolate factory my wife used to work at in Knebworth. You could tell that the pastry was freshly made too, which after some investigating I have learned they are made by pastry chefs on site.
Everyone had a fantastic meal at the Gonville with plenty left over. We had originally planned to go for a drink afterwards then go on to dinner but after that we were so stuffed that we decided to forget dinner all together. The portions here a terrific.
The highlight of the meal was the dessert. A concoction of high quality sweet treats which is usually just a slice of cake at other places. Everything else was to a good standard (with good portions) but the sweet treats are which really popped in my memory.
The service was excellent and the surroundings were beautiful and well thought out. Perfect for a sunny April afternoon which was still just that little too cold to sit outside for an entire afternoon.
There was a service charge of around £10 which was included on the bill. This is something which we were more than happy to pay but also not mentioned on the price list on the website, so keep it in mind.
I do not have a broad experience of afternoon tea but have been to some excellent high quality establishments and multi award winning restaurants and this ranks as one of the best experiences I have had. Speaking with the owner of the Cream Tea Tasters she was in agreement that the Gonville offers one of the best places in Cambridgeshire. We both highly recommend.
A big thank you to the Cambridge Foodies and the Cream Tea Tasters for the recommendation!
Thanks for reading.