Today certainly wasn’t the first time Elaine and I had been out for afternoon tea; but our trip to the Old Joiners Shop marks my debut as a “food blogger”—basically that means I’m going to try and write a review…
The Joiners is situated in Ingleby Cross, a lovely little village just off the Stokesley Road (A172), only a mile or so from the A19.
We had booked in advance and a table had been reserved upstairs. There were several wooden tables and chairs, as well as a very comfortable-looking sofa—I’d guess there was room for twenty or so people, plus the downstairs and a couple of small tables outside for those wanting to enjoy the late summer (or early autumn) sunshine.
There seemed to be a decent selection of teas (and coffee if you preferred), but we are a traditional English Breakfast tea couple. The beverages arrived soon after; and extra tea or hot water was no problem.
We had a lengthy wait for the food, but this gave us ample time to chat, as well as allowing Elaine to meet the very handsome Cockapoo that had been lying quietly beside the family on the next table. The Joiners is “dog friendly”, and Elaine’s canine afternoon was completed by meeting a Golden Retriever puppy, a Maltese Terrier and Cocker Spaniel. I was very much surplus to requirements!
There were two reasons for the delay; firstly, the shop was busy (always a good sign), but secondly—and more compellingly—this was the first ever afternoon tea that The Joiners had served. There were apologies from the staff, we could also sense a few nerves too, but they were as unfounded as the apologies were unnecessary, because when the food arrived, it looked wonderful (photographic evidence follows).
There are four sandwich fillings available, and we had to pick two. If the afternoon teas become popular, I’m sure all four would be included, but I can understand why, for now, a choice had to be made. We picked salmon, cucumber and dill, and brie with cranberry. They were both lovely (especially the brie), and I must admit I did make me wonder what the other sandwiches would have been like—for the record, they are ham and mustard, and beef and chutney.
Unusually, there was one fruit and one cheese scone on the middle plate. Butter was provided for the cheese scone—a good move; I’m not sure jam and cream would go. My first reaction was what if you wanted to share? And then I found the scones were pre-cut … clever!
The plates were decorated with fresh fruit, and I have to admit the raspberries were one of the absolute highlights. I believe much of the produce is locally-sourced … and the raspberries (and the strawberries) tasted amazing. It reminded me of going fruit picking as a kid; everything tasted so fresh and sweet you just kept on eating; and when it was time to pay for what you’d picked, you had filled just the one punnet—and one stomach!
As for the sweet plate; well there was a rich chocolate cake, carrot cake, another cake with a tangy lemon icing, as well as coconut macaroons, meringues and a creamy, fruity offering in a small glass jar. All lovely, but way too much for us to finish.
The atmosphere was great—being dog friendly is a big plus—and the staff couldn’t have been nicer or more helpful. The only criticism we could have had was the delay for the food to arrive, but as I said, we actually enjoyed every minute and weren’t bothered in the slightest. And even if it had been an issue, the preparation time will only reduce as more people come to sample afternoon tea at The Joiners—which I’m sure they will.
I suppose I had better mention the price. Given the quality of the food, the service, the ambience (a word I use when I’m trying to sound posh), I would have to say the cost of £26.00 for the two of us was far less than I would have expected. Not that I want the prices to go up, because we’ll definitely be paying another visit—maybe wait until after we’ve been back, then add on another couple of quid!
I believe it is customary to end a review with a score or rating. I’m going to go down the star route—one star is pretty ordinary, five stars means “excellent … pop along and see for yourself”.
The Old Joiners Shop in Ingleby Cross gets … drum roll...
Richard... Jack of some trades... you can guess the rest