As I write this, I am currently topping up my tan, sitting on our deck, basking in the sunshine we have grown to rely on these last few weeks. The weather has been idyllic – minus the raging thunder and lightning storms during the night. Nothing wrong with that though – a bit of midnight entertainment. However, when the sun is shining and there is blue sky as far as the eye can see, I get fidgety. Growing up in a country like New Zealand, days like this can only mean one thing – beach time. But as far as I know, there are no beaches in London I can retreat to – and no, the Thames banks don’t count.
But being the extremely lucky, blessed and grateful person I am, my English-born Dad and Kiwi Mum purchased a seaside apartment down in Lee-on-the-Solent, Portsmouth a few years ago, where they stay during visits from New Zealand. So Lee is now my equivalent to an American’s ‘Lake house’ – a city retreat to which I frequent often when Pops and Mum are here.
So with my younger Brother also visiting from home during his University break, we decided to go visit Dad in Lee. I absolutely love it down south. As Portsmouth was once the Naval hub of Britain, it is rich in history – both national and personal as my Grandad was stationed there during WW2 and was the playground for my Dad growing up. While this city itself has a lot answer for in terms of aesthetics (Prince Charles named it the ugliest city in England due to its concrete refurbishment after being bombed heavily in the war) the potential it has to be a beautiful harbor side city is endless.
Then there’s the surrounding villages – Lee-on-the-Solent being one of them. Overlooking the solent to the Isle of Wight, Lee is THE place to just sit, relax and watch the yachts, cruise boats and container ships navigate the waters. And nestled in Lee’s small, but providing, group of shops, is the quaint Tea Room – a traditional, old English tea house.
The Tea Room is one of the ‘cutest’ cafes I have ever been in. Coming from NZ, I can’t say I have experienced many traditional English tea rooms, but now think this is one of my favourite types of lazy Sunday afternoon cuisines.
The décor of The Tea Room is also to be admired. It is extremely detailed with loads to look at, yet it isn’t too ‘noisy’ and every detail seems to balance and compliment the other – from mismatched chairs and tables, to the glass window display of mouth-watering cupcakes.
With a huge, but basic, selection of food – from tomato soups to toasted sandwiches and jacket potatoes, to cream tea – The Tea Room is the perfect place to go when all you want is a delicious cup of tea or coffee, and some wholesome, tasty, fulfilling food that makes you feel so happy, you want to write a blog about it (cue laughter track).
That is something I often struggle to find in London. When all you want is a yummy sandwich, a sweet and a hot cuppa, but can’t seem to find something without having to ask our best friend Mr. Google. Or having to settle with a chain store that obviously adds zero love to their food.
I had the tuna-mayo, with red onion, sweetcorn and cheese toasted sandwich – (a take on a classic favourite my Dad introduced me to; the deservedly infamous Tuna Melt), complimented with a very tasty tomato and basil soup. Perfectly sized portions with a nice touch of a fresh – and actually edible – garden salad. I also had a basic filter coffee, then finished the dining excursion with their famous loose-leaf earl grey tea. With a huge selection of loose –leaf teas (funny that), The Tea Room was a refreshing change to the cafes I tend to frequent, and really does offer a warm, homely, satisfying lunch experience.
I think the main ‘tip’ I will take away from this particular establishment is the crockery they use. The use of patterned china and tea spoons that looked like they should be framed, it made you feel almost ‘posh’ drinking from such a delicate, intricate vessel. Sadly my beautiful Grandmother passed away not too long ago, and left behind the most dazzling sets of tea cups and matching saucers – but a heck of a lot of them! So I thought I could use these sets in my own café to serve loose-leaf tea in. From what I experienced at The Tea Room, I think this could be a really good idea!
And Tuna Melts will most definitely be on the menu.