Saturday, 1 June 2013

Harriet's cafe, Woodstock

Ye Ancient House door - Cream Tea Queen
After visiting Harriet's cafe (AKA Ye Ancient House) today, I started this blog by looking up their website, but I got sidetracked by review sites. I've pasted a few of my 'favourite' comments below, all of which were made in 2011:

"The smallest scone in town, microwaved and overpriced. When I checked to see if it really had been microwaved I was asked if I wanted it grilled instead" 

"When eating later in the day it was obvious that these were not made freshly as you would certainly expect from the outrageous price. They were instead, small, stale and fit only for the bin."

"I could have probably eaten it in one go. It took me all of five minutes to eat it and I left. I was served by two scruffy youths, one of whom swore at a colleague as he passed by my table."

Golly. It seems like the scones at Harriet's are a hot (albeit microwaved) topic!

I've been to Harriet's numerous times and, while it's by no means a gastronomic experience, I've always been lucky enough to get a seat (which I will put down to their efficient service). As any visitor to Woodstock knows, this is an achievement and automatically gives the cafe brownie points. Now to the infamous scones.

On this particular occasion I was hungry, and with good reason. I had just cycled 42 miles around the Cotswolds, with only a few Haribos and a limp packaged sandwich as fuel. At this point in the day, anything would have tasted good! The first bite of the scone - which arrived within a few minutes of us ordering - was therefore particularly welcome.

Cream Tea Queen scone review

Once my hunger had subsided I was able to assess to the cream tea experience based on its merit, rather than my blood sugar levels. Firstly, the tea wasn't loose leaf (which loses the cafe points) but it did come with an additional pot of hot water. This wasn't requested by us, but will delight my Welsh readers.

There were two scones, both of which were a standard size (they have obviously bounced back from those notorious days of 2011). One scone was plain and one was fruit, with a good distribution of fruit I hasten to add. The egg glaze coating the scones caught the sunlight, making the scones give off a tempting golden hue. The scones themselves weren't anything to write home about, they were simply excellent jam and cream carriers; this was fortunate, given that they were served with a small pot of strawberry jam and a dish of clotted cream.

Cream Tea Queen - scone with jam and cream

Now to the "scruffy youths" serving us. The 'youth' serving us was very polite; I apologised for being last to leave, thereby making him stay past the 5pm closing time, but he was very accommodating and polite about it. (I feel very British for feeling the need to emphasise the fact that the waiter was well-mannered when he was well within his rights not to be!)

It's a shame we had our bicycles with us, otherwise we'd have taken advantage of the cafe's south-facing rear garden. But we enjoyed our seat outside on the pavement, which meant we could watch the world go by, and afforded us the best view in the house of the cafe's teapot collection. It isn't to be missed. My particular favourite is the teapot which looks like a bathroom cabinet.

Cream Tea Queen  Harriets Woodstock teapots

I rate the cream tea 6/10. At about £6 per person it wasn't overpriced, and although the scones themselves weren't delicious I would still go back (I just wouldn't go out of my way).

Thank you to Harriet's for this cream tea, which helped me on my way as I cycled the last six miles back to Oxford in the glorious sunshine.

Oxfordshire sunshine Cream Tea Queen

1 comment:

  1. I think that Harriet's may be closing down - there is a planning notice fixed to the door seeking permission for the conversion of the ground floor to residential use.