It’s ages since we visited the Lion Rock Tea Room in Cheddar; being in Somerset there are loads of tea rooms offering cream tea, but I don’t know many as good as Lion Rock and the Parkside Café in Locking. Cheddar is famous for its cheese and famous for its Gorge:
a limestone gorge in the Mendip Hills, near the village of Cheddar, Somerset, England. The gorge is the site of the Cheddar show caves, where Britain’s oldest complete human skeleton, Cheddar Man, estimated to be 9,000 years old, was found in 1903. Older remains from the Upper Late Palaeolithic era (12,000–13,000 years ago) have been found. The caves, produced by the activity of an underground river, contain stalactites and stalagmites.
A lovely sunny afternoon and the carpark just by the Riverside Inn in Cheddar was almost full but we found a space. Parking paid, we set off to walk up the Gorge, past all the tourist shops, cafés, ice-cream sellers and fish and chip shops, along by the Cheddar Yeo river, until the crowds began to thin. We saw some of the feral goats standing above one restaurant garden, obviously waiting for it to close so they could help clear up the left-overs.
We crossed over to the Lion Rock Tea Room, below the Lion Rock and now they have a one-way system and regulate people entering and leaving to keep everyone safe. We went upstairs and out into the little garden terrace at the back and found a table by the beautiful hydrangeas in full bloom. No sooner had we sat down beneath the big parasols than we had menus – not that we needed them, two crema teas (two scones each) one strawberry cream tea. Cheddar is famed not just for the Gorge and the cheese, as I mentioned, bu also its strawberries, which many believe to be the best in the world for quality, flavour and juiciness.
Just in case you don’t know what a cream tea is, it’s not a cup of tea with cream in it. A cream tea does consist of tea to drink, but the main features are scones – fruit or plain, jam and clotted cream – a rich very thick golden cream with a delicious flavour. It has nothing other than milk in it but it’s the way it is processed which makes it!
Needless to say we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, I think new people have taken over the tea room since we last visited – the scones have always been good (see picture above) but there is a new recipe and they are even better! Wonderful scones!
What added to our enjoyment was the families on the table behind me – I couldn’t see them but could hear them. Two mums, a dad and four little children. These children were having a lovely time, but what made it a lovely time for us too was their excellent behaviour. They were laughing and giggling, and telling little jokes, telling the grown-ups things and chatting between themselves while the grown-ups conversed. They had ordered meals and one little boy needed a gluten-free diet – however there had been a slight mix-up and his gluten-free chips had to be re-ordered. Neither he nor the parents made a fuss and the waitress (in a very pretty dress) was full of apologies. She dashed back to the kitchen and the chef immediately put some on to cook, because of course everything is freshly cooked, no piles of soggy anything keeping warm! Eventually the chips arrived and all was well and I thought it was so nice for everyone concerned that the children were enjoying themselves so much, and so were we!
PS you get proper tea made with tea leaves in a pot with a strainer!