The best cream teas on the Isle of Wight
Ah, the cream tea, staple food for holidaymakers in the English countryside for generations. This classic afternoon treat has never gone out of fashion and is a good barometer of a venue.
Is the tea in a pot with 'all the trimmings'? Fresh milk? Clotted cream? A generous dollop of jam? And yes, it's probably a West Country thing, but there are definitely two divergent schools of thought about whether or not to have butter on it. So to guide you to the best, Matt and Cat offer their quick guide to the essential Isle of Wight cream tea destinations this summer. There are links to the full reviews, and of course you can add your own favourites below!
Ask a random Islander where their top spot for cream tea is, and you stand a good chance of hearing about the delightful Warren Farm, Totland. Right up near the Needles, this old-fashioned farm shop and tearoom has stunning views and great tea. Nowhere else in the developed world would you be served food from a hatch on a willow-pattern plate with a doily and the daintiest butter knives. Piled high with flavoursome jam and cream the scones were so vast and fluffy that when Matt and Cat visited, Cat, queen of the cream tea, could not finish her second one and Matt had to do his duty.
One of Matt and Cat's particular favourites is the Smuggler's Haven, Bonchurch. This location looks unpromising, set as it is in a shady spot next to the main road, but its south face receives plenty of afternoon sun. From the terrace is one of the finest views over the English Channel (see bottom picture). Down the slope is the extraordinary and wildly undulating landscape of The Landslip. The café is in the traditional style, and its little tables, lino floor and old-fashioned tea urn are all very smart and clean. It even sells a few souvenirs, and, like much of Ventnor, is pleasantly reminiscent of a bygone age of tourism.
A long-standing tourist attraction, Chessell Pottery, near Calbourne, also has its own Courtyard Café which comes in for an honourable mention. The Pottery is sometimes viewed a bit warily by locals - perhaps they think it's more suited for visitors. If so, they'd be wrong. Any such preconceptions were rapidly dispelled when Matt and Cat strolled into the pleasant courtyard of the barns one afternoon, which appeared to be a delightful location for anyone looking for a light snack en route around the Island. In the sizeable café Matt and Cat swiftly ordered the standard cream tea for two, found a corner table and settled down. The cream tea had two large home-made scones each, two separate pots of Fairtrade tea and plenty of milk. Some of the crockery, predictably enough, was of local origin. In fact, the whole establishment had a commendable emphasis on Isle of Wight information and produce. It's a good spot to take a family, with plenty of room.
Dimbola Lodge, in Freshwater Bay is not only a photographic museum but also a delightful tea shop. You can guess for which purpose Matt and Cat visited it. The tea room is set in the front room of the imposing Victorian house and has views over the surrounding countryside and undulating coastline. The views are slightly interrupted by the plants in the well-stocked garden and all sorts of authentic Victorian impedimenta in the tea room, including old cameras, a leather sofa, busts of famous people, and even a grand piano. The scones were not too bad, with good rations of cream and jam. This atmospheric location provides a unique experience, and what's more, patrons can be comforted by the knowledge that their money is going to support a small charity with impeccable cultural credentials.
Finally, no survey of cream teas would be complete without reference to The Royal Hotel, Ventnor which, whilst far from being a tea shop, still serves up a very grand Afternoon Tea in its luxurious conservatory. Long a retreat for the genteel of Ventnor and beyond, the Royal takes afternoon tea seriously. Guests can linger over tiny but exquisite sandwiches, a vast supply of extraordinary fresh cakes, sweets and pastries that won't fail to delight and as much tea as they can drink. It's not cheap, mind you, but if you fancy a cream tea to remember, this one will not disappoint.
Categories: Tea shops
13 comments (newest first)
What about Chale Bay Farm
Great Cream Tea, lovely home made cakes and good service at reasonable prices
Went yesterday it was lovely and views out to the Freshwater Cliffs
Calbourne mill does a great cream tea and Islanders can get a season ticket for the mill and get in for free after the first visit (unfortunately this doesn’t apply to the cream teas!!!)
Chessell Pottery certainly do a nice cream tea and ploughmans….BUT…the service is terrible and the staff just seem to ignore you! You pop in on a busy day and you could be waiting hours, staff can’t seem to cope with a few teas and sandwiches. They are not organised at all. We popped in on a sunny afternoon at about 2.30pm and were told they were it was too late for a ploughmans and they were too busy!! I didn’t realise that a bit of bread and cheese on a plate was so complicated and time consuming! This wasn’t even high season either, just a Friday afternoon in September.
For quality (though not quantity) try the Adgestone Vineyard wineshop. Lots of othere stuff as well (e.g. soup, cake) and a great location/view.
Re warren farm just visited and had cheese scones plus new forest cheese and date chutney- I thought I had died and gone to heaven plus a giant pot of tea. Totally awesome especially as we had just cycled 10 miles in the rain to get there. Best tea shop on the island by a mile!
I find Chessell Pottery’s “Clotted Cream” a bit Cheesy myself. Think it was out of date or something, but really wasn’t pleasant. I like the quiet tea rooms in Gatcombe, tucked away and very quiet that no one really knows about. And there’s a farm in either Alverstone or Adgestone which does the most absolutely fab Cream Tea! Was gorgeous setting to. A must try for time out of daily hectic life.
This does sound exactly like my experience! I forgot to mention the tables covered in dirty pots, or that they had ‘run out of lunch’ at er, lunchtime. I too noted a lady spent a lot of time fiddling with things on trays, if only they just got on with it. It’s a very peculiar place, it could be good, what food I saw looked very good. It’s just a shame we didn’t get to eat any of it.
Glad you mentionned the Chessel Pottery Cafe, my Mum went a few weeks ago to accompany a Walking Festival and had said it was excellent, we found ourselves over that way so thought we would sample the delights. The place looked pretty terrible from the outside, but inside apart from the tables absolutely covered in dirty crockery we were pleasantly surprised. We decided to peruse the gift shop and give the cafe a chance to recover itself, clearly lots of customers had just left at once. When the tables had been cleared we ordered an “ultimate cream tea” and a sausage roll, they had sold out of all savoury lunch items (@1pm) except the pre-prepared baguettes, so my husband ordered one of those and we very patiently waited for our order to arrive. We were the only customers waiting for food, after about twenty five minutes I began to get a little ratty as I couldn’t understand what the delay was, we didn’t even have our drinks, the baguettes are pre-prepared on the counter, as are the scones. My husband could see the lady repeatedly arranging the tray..
Eventually the baguette arrived on .. a plate with a couple of lettuce leaves and a slice of orange..with the cream tea.
The crockery was lovely but it was all a little peculier.
Just had a terrible experience at Chessel tea room. We ordered two cream teas and a ploughmans at the counter. They claimed it would be a ‘twenty minute wait’ for scones, they had run out - we reluctantly accepted. 15 mins later, the scones were put out on the counter. This got our mouths watering, as we were still waiting for the tea! 30 minutes later, we asked where the tea was? They said it was coming. It didn’t. After 40 minutes of waiting for absolutely nothing, staring at our bare table, we got a refund and left. As we did, another poor customer was queuing for a refund. The few other people tables were over-hearing and looking pessimistic. This was Sunday, 1.40ish, they were not obviously busy. Four, perhaps five members of staff appeared to be fiddling around in the kitchen, putting things away and tidying, one poor girl was preparing drinks, one older lady was hurrying around doing not much except panicking and a man, we assumed was the boss, was slowly clearing tables, oblivious to the shambles around him. This place has no obvious serving system, whatever system it uses is hopeless. Avoid at all costs unless mid week out of season. I previously went on a dead mid week day, it was fine then!
We had the most amazing cream tea at the vineleaf coffee shop at the rosematy vineyard in ryde. The scones are huge and homemade and you get lashings of clotted cream butter and jam, we also got the choice of tea or coffee. we will definatley be goin back
I have to echo Warren farm. Proper old fashioned in a delightful way, and what a location!
For out and about at events I reccommend Calbourne Classics. They had a little stand at The Gaffers and were charging only £2.50 for a cream tea. Gorgeous, large scones and they were flexible in that they allowed me to have a bottle of mineral water instead of a cup of tea.
I will be seeking them out next time!
The Watersedge (really called the Water’s Edge, rather than being named after an obscure aquatic plant as I first thought) IS good for afternoon tea, as well as being generally good.
The Round House on Fairlee Road, only open at weekends, is quintessential afternoon tea territory.
Priory Bay Hotel also do afternoon tea, including a savoury one involving cheese scones and chutney.
No mention of the watersedge in gurnard - their cream tea was much more than I could have anticipated. 2 huge scones, lovely bonne maman jam and a mahoosive dollop of cream. Love the place so much i’m stayingin gurnard again this years holiday :) :)
Matt and Cat respond: Thanks for your comment, Cheri. We haven’t been to the Watersedge but we’ll certainly add it to the list. Has anyone else got any recommendations for cream tea?