Brook Mollington Banastre Hotel & Spa - Afternoon tea
It’s a sure sign of contentment that as I get older I’m happy to amble along at a comfortable pace rather than speeding through life. Whereas ten years or so ago I’d have chosen to spend my free time either doing nothing, or trying to squeeze too much into one day, I have now become accustomed to enjoying just one or two things and taking my time with them.
When Mrs DannyUK and I get together we both are content to just enjoy each others company. I’m not sure if she’s aware of it, but she has also got me addicted to afternoon tea.
I’d managed to collect a half price voucher for afternoon tea from the points on packs of Anchor Butter (collecting coupons - another sign of age!), and a few months ago I picked out the Brook Mollington Banastre Hotel & Spa in Chester as an ideal venue to use it. Although the terms of the voucher stated that a table needed to be pre-booked, I managed to call yesterday afternoon and book a table for an hour later.
I’d never been to the Brook Mollington Banastre before, but I understand it has a good reputation locally. Driving into the car park, the building looks quaint and attractive, as well as extremely peaceful. We parked up and wandered inside, introduced ourselves and were told by Reception to take a seat.
The eating area was quite large, and barring another couple a few tables along from where we were seated, and another couple outside enjoying the sunshine, the place was empty. Service was slow, but as we were in no rush this didn’t bother us. We weren’t offered a menu as we’d already stated that we were there for the afternoon tea, and though our drinks order was taken, it occurred to me that we’d be eating without knowing the cost of anything.
Always happy to go with the flow, we passed our time chatting and before long the table was full of our order. Alongside finger sandwiches of salmon and cream cheese, egg mayo and cress and cream cheese and cucumber was a selection of flavoured teas, two large pieces of strawberry jam sponge cake, two brownies, two slices of lemon tart and two large scones with cream and jam.
As a man with a self-confessed sweet tooth, I surveyed the cakes and figured that I’d get through them without a problem. I have to admit though, my eyes were certainly bigger than my belly. I sampled the lemon tart and immediately rejected it. Sour food never sits well with a sweet pallet, and the sheer sharpness of the tart ensured that no more than a mouthful was needed before I decided to move on to something sweeter.
Mrs DannyUK, whose taste buds are the opposite of mine tucked into the tart without issue, barring a comment on just how lemony it was.
The scones were warm, and though large and very filling, they were lacking something which I am still unable to put my finger on. I mentioned this to my girlfriend and she disagreed completely, saying that she found the scones lovely, but wasn’t finishing it as it was too much food for here.
We spent probably the best part of a couple of hours there, and although my girlfriend came away thrilled at such a nice afternoon tea, I was left disappointed. The range and quantity of food was fantastic, but the general lack of attention from staff was odd. We were checked on a couple of times, but it genuinely felt as though it was a passing courtesy rather than an attentive waitress.
When it had come to being taken to our table, we’d had to wait for five minutes or so before being seated, and in that time we were approached by a couple of members of staff asking if we needed anything. We mentioned we were waiting to be seated, and they wandered off happily, but it left the impression that nobody seemed to know we were there - understandable in a busy location, but less so in a deserted hotel.
Although we’d had a selection of flavoured tea set out on the table, we’d already ordered breakfast tea, and so then had to request a jug of hot water later on, and then again having to request new cups which all added to the slightly surreal experience of being almost unexpected visitors. When it came to paying the bill we had to get up and wander off to find someone, eventually paying at reception.
With the two-for-one voucher, the total came to £12.95. Expensive for a snack, but certainly not bad for afternoon tea in posh(ish) surroundings. Would I go again? Yes, probably, though it wouldn’t be top of my list. The faded and stained curtains, the collection of dead flies caught in the net curtains and the lack of attentive service are all minus points for me.
The plus sides are that it looks nice from the outside, the staff are pleasant and polite enough and the garden looked lovely too. Plus, for the price, we came away absolutely stuffed full of food.