Monday, 1 August 2016

Steyning Tearooms, Steyning, West Sussex, UK

You can tell a decent tearoom when you see one. Normally, it's busy. So busy you can't get a seat. When I stumbled across the Steyning Tearooms that's how it was. There was one table vacant close to the cash register and the espresso machine. It was cramped, but it was a seat and we were luckier than a woman who turned up after us only to be told she'd have to see if anybody wanted to share.

"Would you mind if I shared your table?" the woman asked two women.
"I'm sorry, but we're having a private conversation about work," said the younger of the two women dismissively.
Ham and cheese sandwich with salad....

I felt like getting involved, but decided to keep out of it. The rejected woman stood around for a few awkward minutes and then left the tearooms and stood outside cooling off. Now, I know one thing. Had I been asked the same question by the same woman I would have welcomed her with open arms, but my table only just seated two.

My lunch companion ordered a savoury scone with cheese and onion marmalade. I ordered a cheese and ham sandwich on brown bread, served with a richly colourful salad. We ordered a pot of tea for two and when it all arrived it was wonderful. The cheese and ham sandwich was perfect and the scone, I was told, was also pretty damn good. And let's not forget the tea. It was perfect too.

The Steyning Tearooms offer a wide variety of different foodstuffs, but it's not cheap. A ploughman's lunch would set you back £8.10 and if you wanted one with cheese and ham, it would cost you £9.10. A warm local bacon and goat's cheese salad was £8.10, a smoked salmon and crayfish salad was the same price and a wide range of sandwiches, like mine, would cost anything between £5.10 and £6.95 (for crayfish mayonnaise, mature Cheddar and bacon). My cheese and ham sandwich was £5.65.

Scone with cheese and onion marmalade...
There's other stuff too. Crumpets are £2.55 for two, a toasted teacake with butter is the same and if you want a slice of toast it'll cost you £2.00. Then there's a Sussex rarebit – Sussex Cheddar and mustard served on toasted local 'chewy' brown bread with a side salad (£7.45) or a children's special Teddy-Bears Picnic – a basket of home-made teddy-bear cheese biscuits, a little cup cake, grapes and juice served in a teapot (£5.95 or £6.25 if you add a ham, Cheddar or tuna mayo sandwich).

Famous scones!
The Steyning Tearooms, however, is famed for its 'famous scones'. Despite their fame, they're not pricey in the slightest, the most expensive being the one ordered by my wife  – cheese and apple served warm with butter, cream cheese and onion marmalade (£3.80). The second most expensive scone was a plain or fruit version served warm with jam and Roddas Cornish clotted cream (£3.60).

Afternoon tea with a scone or cake is £10.95 or £11.95 if you want both a scone AND a cake.

Daily blackboard lunch specials are also available – and looked very tasty, I can tell you.

Our bill was just over £13 and it's worth remembering that credit and debit cards are NOT accepted here. Not that it presents too many problems as there's a cashpoint machine a short walk from the teashop.

This is a great place and we will return – but only if we get a seat.

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