A charming old-fashioned tearoom serving generous portions of food and hospitality
Go there for: Big slices of cake, toasted sandwiches, ploughmans and freshly made scones.
Avoid: Modern coffee-shop mentality; this tearoom is quintessentially English.
Is it worth the calories?: Support this lovely little business and put the tracker away for the afternoon.
Tips: Enter the tearoom via the shop. Book ahead for Sunday lunch.
Sadly the Abinger Hammer post office closed 9 years ago but Annie seized the opportunity to open a teashop. Her desperate action has been a gift.
Jane and I first popped into the teashop after a disappointing lunch elsewhere. We had enough room to share a cream tea (£4.75), which proved to be one of the best! The scone would get a 1980s Home Economics teacher’s approval (just warm from the oven) and the tea came in a lovely big pot with a jug of milk in rose-embellished mismatched china.
Annie says trade is seasonal but she has regular refuelling visits from cyclists touring the Surrey Hills; she’d love to see more people in the colder months. In summer the stream opposite pulls in families with younger children. Fishing nets and cricket sets are sold in the shop for some traditional fun with the kids.
Annie offers a comforting, traditional menu. It’s mostly home made and portions are generous. I chose a full cooked breakfast with scrambled free-range eggs (£7.50 including a pot of tea) – the perfect pick me up after an enthusiastic night’s socialising. One companion chose a baked potato with prawns in a Marie Rose sauce: a retro classic down to the obligatory salad garnish (£6.50). From the same generation a French ploughman’s, this overly generous plate featured a wedge of gooey brie and a generous ramekin of pâté. The bread was oven fresh: when business is unpredictable Annie stocks part-baked bread. I am not usually a fan of this product but here it worked perfectly and other venues could take note as it’s not uncommon for day-old bread to be served. Some tomato and parsley soup arrived piping hot (hooray); intensely tomatoey, it was savoury with just the right hint of sweetness and was accompanied by plus a generous portion of warm bread (£3.95) – perfect for dunking.
They also serve toasted sandwiches (from £4.50) and, a local seasonal tradition, Watercress Tea: a bowl of watercress from Kingfisher Farm across the road, a slab of cheddar and buttered brown bread (£4.75).
No tea room is worth mentioning without talking cake. Here, they offer a selection including Victoria sandwich, coffee and walnut, classic chocolate and carrot. A steal at £2.50 a slice (£1.50 to take-away) this is a cupcake-free zone reserved for serious cake consumption.
When I popped in recently I met Paul Baker, chef/proprietor of Kinghams in Shere, having lunch on his day off. I can think of no better recommendation.