Cornwall is the home of the cream tea. Not the fancy, Prosecco-twinkling high tea and patisserie that the London set has created on the cream tea’s foundation, but Cornwall is the originator of the homemade scone, the founding place of clotted cream with the crust, one side of the great Cornwall versus Devon debate of whether it’s the jam or the cream that should be smothered on the scone first (FYI, we all it’s the jam first people, get with the programme).
With this in mind, during my last Cornish staycation, my husband, sister-in-law and I visited a quaint little tearoom situated above a gift shop on the main road opposite the river in Looe. Granted, it was the gift shop’s lure of a fudge-filled window that may have originally garnered my attention, however once we saw the sign for the tearoom, we couldn’t resist popping upstairs for a spot of lunch somewhere so quintessentially homely.
And homely it is. Miss Marples Tearoom is a small, long room with classic orange-toned wooden tables and high-backed dining chairs and bum-dented cushions; the wallpaper an old school cream and pink floral number reminiscent of curtains from a bygone age. The most modern item in the room was by far the whizzy looking coffee machine. It may be cosy and reek of your great-grandparents’ style, however surely that’s why we visit tearooms? To indulge in that old-age tradition of tea, finger sandwiches and cake at 4pm that the nobility of the past had every day, the lucky buggers? The views from the tearoom’s upstairs location looked over the water and the boats bobbing by, injecting a sense of the tourist as we enjoyed the scenic spot.
For my lunch, I decided to be rather greedy and have the afternoon tea for one. This consisted of a fruit or plain scone with strawberry jam and Cornish clotted cream, a pot of tea and then a choice of sandwich on white or granary bread. I felt this combined the best of both worlds, so I chose a cheddar cheese and west country chutney sandwich on the granary bread, paired with a fruit scone, naturally.
The pot of tea was a basic white teapot, however you can’t go wrong with a floral cup and saucer. Mine came complete with a dainty blue flower pattern. We were also provided with tea strainers, as our pot of tea contained loose leaf tea, again a nice luxury of the afternoon tea that’s a step away from the typical tea bags rattling around the kitchen at home. My little afternoon tea for one was still presented on a tiered cake stand, giving it a bit of presence when it was plonked on the table. The two-tier stand had a large and wonderfully misshapen fruity scone on top; its brimmed over golden top and spilling-over sides indicating it was freshly made. Besides the scone was a white dish of clotted cream, thankfully a decent amount, and another containing lashings of sticky, rich strawberry jam. On my lower layer, was my sandwich, cut thoughtfully into quarters.
The sandwich was very tasty actually, the cheddar grated to remind me of my childhood insistence. The chutney however was the real star of the show; it really had a fantastic flavour with ale-tones, a chunky fruity undercurrent and a stickiness that was addictive. Matched with the cheese, this chutney really sang and I was sorely tempted to acquire some to take home. The bread was soft too.
The scone was also lovely and a very large size, which I completely agree with. There is nothing so disappointing as a small scone, especially if you only get one. Luckily, this scone was the mothership of scones and very well studding with raisins and currents. The jam and cream provided was ample for really covering every millimetre of my scone, and to be honest, it nearly defeated me. Nearly…I’m not an amateur! The scone itself was buttery and crumbly on the inside, yet held together well because of it’s golden baked shell. All in all, a very lovely scone.
My sister-in-law matched my afternoon tea for one, however swapping her sandwich for a white bread and ham effort, while the husband went for a spread of thick cut ham slices, a mixed salad, doorstops of soft, chewy white bread and accompaniments such as chutney, pickled onions and coleslaw. Spying a version of this on the menu that features both ham and cheddar, I think I’ve already picked out what I’ll be having next time I visit Miss Marples.
Miss Marples Tearoom does what it says on the tin, and it does it to the letter. It was a very lovely, mixed menu with plenty of sandwiches, cakes and scones for all the family, whether you are a tourist or a local. It may be a bit hidden since you have to come through the gift shop to find it, however it’s busy-ness is a testament to its reputation. I’m certainly looking forward to my next visit and more home-grown fodder in this quaint little spot.