Restaurant reviews

Afternoon Tea in Yorkshire: Scones and sweet delights steal the show at Rudding Park

There isn’t exactly a shortage of afternoon tea options in Yorkshire. There are several decent options in Leeds city centre, including Harvey Nichols and the Malmaison, but it’s worth venturing a little further out of town in order to find a more relaxed atmosphere in which to indulge in some tea, sandwiches, and scones.

I did just that this week with my Dad as we headed to Rudding Park for afternoon tea. We’re big fans of afternoon tea and have pretty high standards by which we judge this most British of culinary institutions. So, did Rudding Park impress us? Let’s see…

The setting

Afternoon tea at Rudding Park is served in an airy conservatory space, with tables dotted around a stunning old tree which stands proud in the middle of the room. On a summer’s day the atmosphere is light, cool, and demure, and I can imagine in winter it’s transformed into a pretty cosy and inviting space. There are tables and chairs set up outside the conservatory which I’m sure could be used on one of those rare sunny Yorkshire days! The room was pretty much full but, despite the glass ceiling and windowed walls, we weren’t really aware of anyone else’s conversations.

The sandwiches

And so on to the food! The sandwiches came beautifully presented and there were four each to indulge in: smoked salmon and cucumber, ham, cheese and pickle, and egg mayonnaise.

Rudding Park afternoon tea

In my opinion the standouts were the smoked salmon and cucumber and the egg mayonnaise. Both were light, full of flavour, and really nicely seasoned.

The scones

An afternoon tea can live or die by the quality of the scones and I’m happy to say that the Rudding Park scones more than lived up to expectations. They were a little on the large side, but that’s not a bad thing when you have a pot of clotted cream to hand and some cute little jars of strawberry jam!

Rudding Park afternoon tea

The scones had a really good texture to them; crumbly without falling apart in your hands. The clotted cream was fresh and tasted as naughty as you’d hope, and there was enough jam to satisfy us both.

The cakes

Sometimes with afternoon tea, after you’ve scoffed the scones and sandwiches, the cake selection can leave you feeling somewhat uninspired, or perhaps intimidated given the amount of food you’ve just eaten! Here, though, the cakes were a far more approachable affair and we couldn’t ignore them; they looked too good to leave! There was a chocolate eclair, a pistachio macaroon, a fruit tart, and a chocolate brownie.

Rudding Park afternoon tea

The eclair was stuffed full of a very nice vanilla custard, and the brownie was rich, moist, and incredibly decadent. The fruit tart wasn’t really my scene but my Dad liked it. For me, the pistachio macaroon stole the show. It was light, had an oozy filling that tasted slightly like marzipan, and in all honesty I could have eaten five of them (had I not been pretty near my limit with the sandwiches and scones!)

Value for money

I thought Rudding Park afternoon tea offered good value for money, especially given how full we were when we left! The only slight complaint (and it isn’t really a complaint as it didn’t at all ruin our afternoon!) is that we were charged for a coffee that should have been included as part of the afternoon tea price. This was clearly just a mix-up in communications and we didn’t notice it at the time. Had we noticed and said something I’m sure it would have been resolved without any problems.

Conclusion

Rudding Park offers a really relaxed setting for afternoon tea. The location is beautiful, far more so than the afternoon tea options in the middle of Leeds, and the quality of the food was really impressive. I’d certainly recommend Rudding Park to anyone wanting an afternoon of sweet treats in the Yorkshire countryside.

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