Splendid. That word sums up our recent visit to the tea rooms at Temple Newsam.
The day was perfect too. Not a cloud in the sky. Indeed, when we arrived there in the early afternoon, the main car park was full and we were forced to park on the access road (more on this later), so clearly plenty of other people had the same idea.
Still, Temple Newsam has enough acreage to keep half of Leeds happy if needs be. Before running some energy out of our children, we decided to have a pit stop at the tea rooms, which is housed in one of the buildings in the old courtyard of the stables. It’s a glorious little sun trap with a shop and ice cream parlour to boot.
We were lucky in managing get a table almost straight away but when another which was in the shade became available, we table-hopped.
There’s a decent menu here with hot and cold options but nothing out of the ordinary. My partner and I decided to try the sharing Ploughman’s platter (£15.95 for two) and were immediately glad we did.
Ploughman’s are often a barometer of a place in that they are either middling dishes to be met with disappointed frowns or sumptuous boards worthy of a king. I am happy to report the ploughman’s here is of the latter variety.
No skimping on ingredients: masses of salad, a pork pie each... and oh, what a pork pie. Obviously sourced from some artisan, it had everything going for it: the pastry was light and slightly crumbly, the meat was nicely salted and there was plenty of jelly inside.
Beyond that, there were pickles (picalili, chutney and gherkins), four slices of thick-cut ham and two slabs of cheese.
In fact, the cheese was the only letdown of the dish in that it was clearly not mature cheese, so perhaps there ought to be a choice. Otherwise, everything sang like the birds we could hear all around us. It’s years since I’ve seen so many sparrows but there they were dutifully picking up all the little crumbs people dropped.
Together with coffee (£2.35), a tea (£1.85) and two sandwich boxes for the kids (£4.45 each), the bill came to £34.15. Not inexpensive for what we ate. Service was good and the food was delivered to our table in double-quick time, which was quite something given how busy they were.
The tea rooms here are a true asset to the house and gardens in general. There’s an extensive seating area inside, in case of rain and some delicious soft drinks, such as elderflower cordial, although I also spied gin & tonic in a bottle and was sorely tempted.
By the time we left (four ice creams later), Temple Newsam was packed, with more people arriving by the minute, so much so they were now parking on the grass all the way round the top field.
TEMPLE NEWSAM TEA ROOMS