I briefly mentioned on my Sunday Moment post about our recent trip to the lovely St Mary's Inn in Stannington, near Morpeth. For the past eight months my lovely sister has been working incredibly long hours 4 days a week to take a Wednesday off each week to look after Zoe, which has saved us around £200 a month! On top of the financial benefits it has been lovely to see the bond growing between them, and Zoe loves the time they spend together. Happily, my sister got a much deserved promotion, and could no longer have a mid-week day off, so to celebrate/commiserate we headed out for a spot of Afternoon Tea.
We have actually been to St Marys Inn for afternoon tea before, when Zoe was a teeny newborn. So this felt like a good bookend for this baby chapter, and also Zoe got to actually participate this time!
We arrived a little early for our booking, but Zoe was fast asleep so we had to do the stereotypical parent thing of sitting in the carpark waiting for the baby to wake-up. Had we been on time I may have tried to wake her, but I was conscious of her being cranky and disturbing other diners. Thankfully she woke up on her own just before 2pm and was in a great mood.
We were shown to a table in the conservatory, which was lovely and bright on a sunny day. I absolutely loved the wallpaper, it created a great backdrop for selfies. Although sadly the wifi didn't work in the conservatory, so I had to keep popping into the bar area to tweet/snapchat - although I only did that once.
They had a highchair waiting for us and provided a fab colouring sheet and pencils to keep Zoe happy. The colouring sheet had a picture of St Marys Inn on it, which was a lovely touch.
The service was great, one of my biggest pet peeves in a restaurant is over eager waiting staff, there is nothing worse than constantly being asked if everything is OK or having someone swoop in the second the final crumb passes your lip. The staff were attentive but also gave you time to enjoy.
We ordered the Afternoon Tea for two, with a pot of early grey and english breakfast. Zoe had already had her lunch before we arrived so she had a bit of ours.
The tea was OK, it was loose leaf, the first cup was delicious but with the leaves sitting in the pot it did become very strong by the second cup. Although to be honest I am a coffee girl at heart, so the tea wasn't the most important part for me. If I was to go back I might take the leaf filter out of the pot to stop it over stewing.
My sister loved her earl grey though, it was fragrant with a lovely slice of fresh lemon.
We started on the bottom tier with the savoury. There was cheese, fruit and plain scones, they were small but perfectly formed. I have had afternoon teas before where the scones were HUGE and you only got one, I think I prefer these little ones with more variety. I had the cheese slathered in lovely salty butter, the plain with butter and jam, and then the fruit with jam and clotted cream.
The sandwiches, which they were more than happy to make without butter for my fussy sister, were lovely and delicate. The beef and horseradish were my favourite, they packed a punch! Zoe loved the ham and pease pudding, and my sister went for the egg mayonnaise.
We did enjoy the savoury, but to be honest we were all pretty focused on the top tier, and all of those yummy cakes! Zoe just kept pointing to the cake as if to say "why are we wasting tummy room on these sandwiches when there is chocolate up there?"
We were not disappointed, we each had our own favourites; my sister loved the sharp freshness of the rhubarb sundae, Zoe loved the cream cheese frosting on the lemon sponge, and I was all about the chocolate brownie.
It was so much more than just a bog standard chocolate brownie, it had two different types of mousse in surrounded by a thin layer of chocolate ganache. I am not ashamed to say I ate them both! The macarons were huge! It is not easy to eat a macaron of this size delicately, I bit into one and sprayed flakey bits of almond shell all over the table... Luckily non of our fellow diners noticed, and Zoe was more than happy to polish off the crumbs.
We also spotted a great specials menu, and have promised to go back for lunch really soon. I love how focused they are on fresh local and seasonal produce.
The restaurant serves Afternoon Tea all day, and they are family and dog friendly. A lot of places I would feel a bit embarrassed taking a toddler, but the staff were so lovely, we felt really welcome and I was comfortable letting Zoe have a bit of an explore. They also have a great selection of cakes and serve lovely coffee, would be a lovely place to meet up for a relaxing cuppa with friends if you didn't want a formal afternoon tea.
The afternoon tea can also be made gluten free or vegan, as long as you pre-book.
All in all we thoroughly enjoyed our time at St Marys Inn, and had Zoe not been getting a little impatient and cranky we would have happily got some more tea and chatted the afternoon away. Huge thank you to St Marys Inn for inviting us along, we will be back!