Esteemed tea room critic continues his journey of the UK
It has been a busy summer for Joe Ellis, the often controversial reviewer for the Joe Ellis Tea Room Guide website, as he has swept across both the Derbyshire Dales and the Peak District on his never ending mission to seek out the best, and the worst, of English tea rooms and bid to save many from closure.
His passion is not restricted to the cuppa itself, but stretches to the ambience, friendliness of staff and attention to detail in both what is served and the environment surrounding it.
Ellis has said that statistically, there are 15 traditional English tea rooms being forced to close every week, and that they really need the support of customers to stay open but despite this if a tea room is not his cup of tea he will tell them so. He added that many tea rooms who have found themselves at the wrong end of his scale have asked for his advice on how to improve things, and he is always happy to help and keep this great tradition alive.
Ellis advocates supporting the more traditional tea rooms; painted pretty colours, with lace tablecloths and pretty china; and staff who get to know their customers. They usually give their customers a hearty welcome and value for money. Ellis was delighted with the standard of tea rooms in the areas visited although he was disappointed that the majority he visited were self service.
Ellis points out ‘the experience of an afternoon tea, or even brunch or lunch in a tea room should be relaxing and enjoyable. Having to order at the counter is not really conducive to this concept. I even encountered one establishment, where the waitress came to the table specifically to tell me to order at the counter…why could she have not just taken my order?’
Of course the vast majority of the tea rooms visited on this trip had the added bonus of the beautiful countryside of the Peak District and Derbyshire Dales, and therefore the views from windows and tea gardens were worth the visit alone. Sadly though out of 19 tea rooms visited, 11 were open and were reviewed, two were closed despite the visits during opening hours, and the other six had closed down apparently only recently.
Just one tea room received the accolade of not my cup of tea but this was mainly because it was more of a café than a tea room in the true sense of the title. Ellis continues to travel England in his quest to save the English tea room. Joe Ellis’ website is very popular and he receives good feedback on the tea rooms he visits daily. He is also editor of the Time for Tea magazine which can be subscribed to via the site at www.tea-room-guide.org.uk