“ The Square, Hawkshead, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22. Tel: 0NZ 01539 436423 „
During our recent holiday to the Lake District my family and I visited Hawkshead, a small village close to Ambleside where we were staying. After a horrible bus journey, a stressful attempt at getting to Hill Top and a slightly boring visit to a gallery of Beatrix Potter's art we were in desperate need of a good cup of tea. Fortunately we didn't have to look far for a tea room.
When we walked into Minstrel's I absolutely loved the place. It looked so old and had so much character. Minstrel's is a fifteenth century building and has managed to keep a lot of the character without modernising the building. Looking around the room where we were seated I could see antique (or what I assume are antique) items, like a lovely dolls house that unfortunately you aren't able to touch (I love dolls houses and would have loved to look inside it). Everything in Minstrel's fits in with the fifteenth century image and this really adds to the atmosphere. The downside to this is that it's not the most comfortable of tea rooms, it feels quite oppressive because the ceilings are quite low and it's dark.
The service in Minstrel's was okay. The staff weren't overly friendly but they weren't rude either. If this place was in London I would probably describe the staff as being friendly but because the waitresses in other restaurants in Ambleside were so friendly the waitress at Minstrel's seemed less so. The best thing about the service was that it was fast. We had been in the Lake District for about five days at this point and I was becoming accustomed to waiting a long time for everything. I'm a very impatient person so the fast service in Minstrel's was excellent for me.
I ordered a cup of breakfast tea, a ham sandwich and of course a scone with jam and cream. The drinks were delivered very quickly and I was delighted to find that they didn't use tea bags, instead they had leaf tea. For me there is something special about leaf tea, I know it's quite a silly thing to get excited about (but you are reading a review by a 25 year old who is almost obsessed with afternoon tea so what do you expect?). I can't say that I know enough about tea to comment on the superiority of tea leaves over tea bags, it's more about the quaintness of it and although I have no skill in reading tea leaves I still like to try. The tea was excellent. One of the best cups of tea I have ever had.
Unfortunately that's where the praise ends. The ham sandwich was okay but it had so much fat that I had to take it off before I could eat it. The scone again was okay but it wasn't anything special. I love scones with jam and cream, they are part of the reason why I can't seem to lose weight and keep it off. To me all scones are good scones but there's a difference between a good scone and a great scone. This scone was not as sweet as I like it to be and although there was fruit in it you couldn't really taste it.
I did try to order some water with my tea because I don't like to get dehydrated when I'm drinking hot drinks but they informed me that I would have to pay for the tap water. I told them not to bother because there was no way that I was going to pay for tap water. I wish I had told them to put less water in my tea and instead give it to me cold, in a glass. When my tea did arrive there was an extra thing of hot water that I didn't want so it seemed even more ridiculous that they wouldn't give me tap water for free. My sister ordered a mineral water that arrived in a glass. This seemed quite suspicious because all of the other drinks arrived in cans or bottles. I'm not saying that they would be so dishonest that they charged us for mineral water when the water was from the tap, just that it was odd that they didn't serve it in the bottle that it came from.
When the bill arrived I noticed that they had overcharged me by ten pence. We didn't bring this up with them though, I'm sure if we had they would have refunded us, it just seemed petty to make a fuss over 10p.
The bathroom in Minstrel's was quite grotty and looked as though it hadn't been redecorated since the 15th century.
I would recommend going to Minstrel's for tea because the tea was wonderful and it's a lovely little place to sit in and look around but for anything more than that there must be better places for you to eat in Hawkshead.