Reviewing Afternoon Tea across Essex... The good, bad and damn right... NOOOOOOOOO

Myself and a couple of the staff have decided to set ourselves a mission, to try out some other venues for afternoon teas,  across Essex this year. 

Its so we can catch up out of work, and see what is being served at other venues. All for market research. 

I know I am the owner here at Sarah's Creative Chocolate Kitchen and Eatery, and I think we do make the best afternoon teas, well best in taste and value for money, but I needed to put it to the test... 

Today was Afternoon Tea 1, and you need to hang onto your seat for this one. 

We decided to try out the Greene King Traditional Afternoon, at one of their local pubs. 

It was £15 per head, which I thought was great value, its a winter special offer, and I did the booking online after I received an email with the offer listed on it, so nice and easy... well so I thought. 

It was for three as is type, and I asked in the allergy/special requirements sections that one to be vegan.  I received the email confirmation and it was noted on there as well, for one to be vegan.  We never received any email or telephone call about this request, so I just presumed all was okay. 

It was booked on 25th January 2024, and our booking was for Monday 5th Feb (today).

So we set off, myself (Sarah), Carole, Sarah and my dad (Vegan).  Arrived at 11.55am, waited outside for the pub for it to open at 12noon, and then entered when it opened. 

We were shown to our seats , but wasn't asked at that point if we wanted a drink, we were just left for 18 minutes, before one of us got up and asked if we needed to order drinks at the bar. The young man did come over and took our drink order.  I confirmed with him that he had us down as one vegan, and he said yes. 

So the drinks arrived and then one stand of afternoon tea arrived as it was mentioned on the offer, then I said again, the next ones will be one vegan, yes again, and off he went. 

When he came back with the second stand, I was shocked that it contained two 'as is afternoon teas', so meat and fish, dairy products for my dad (vegan).  I questioned and said this is wrong, it should be one more like this, and one vegan. He then said they did not have any notes for a vegan afternoon tea.  Luckily I had the confirmation with me, where it clearly stated ' 1 adult as vegan please'. I showed him this, and he disappeared off to talk to the kitchen. 

He left us for around 10 minutes, then said the kitchen will sort this out.  I asked him to take my stand back and remove the other afternoon tea items, as it wouldn't be eaten.  I then waited another 20 minutes, still no sight of the stand coming back, plus we had asked for plates to use for Carole and Sarah, and still nothing... 

I got back up to the bar and asked if my stand could be given back as it was now 12.45pm, and we had one complete stand, no side plates, and nothing for myself or my dad. 

Next to arrive to the table, was one of the staff, not sure if it was the manager, a lady (bright coloured hair).  She explained they did not have any of the ingredients in to make a vegan afternoon tea, she was sorry, but did my dad wish to pick some food off the menu that they would cook him. 

My dad wasn't happy, he had set himself up to eat a Vegan Afternoon so declined, and left us to it. 

My stand finally arrived back around 12.53pm, and I started to tuck into it. 

I started with the brioche rolls, which were so dry and hard, that I took one mouthful and left the rest, just ate the inside items of the bacon and chicken one. The egg mayo sandwich was probably the best bit on the whole stand. 

Next up I tried the scone, it was dry, but with lots of cream and jam, it was palatable.  I didn't eat the prawn sandwich as I cannot eat them, but didn't mention it as I thought someone else could swap with me.

I then tried the carrot cake, which was okay, but I knew it was a bought in one, along with the victoria sponge and brownie.  I left the Victoria sponge and took the brownie home for Alfie.  

The others all pretty much left half of their stand as well. 

It was meant to be a happy occasion, but I felt deflated and actually came back to the shop and made myself a sandwich to enjoy! with some walkers crisps. 

The whole thing cost us £61.99 which was 3 afternoon teas, 2 diet cokes, 1 x 0% sparkling wine and 1 bitter (dad)

I will be writing to their head office to raise the point of their booking site not talking to the pub, as the staff said they never received that section on our booking... 

Anyone else had an experience like this? please add a comment below. 

So next time, I will be double/triple checking that the venue knows my dad is vegan ahead of booking and paying a deposit, I won’t rely on the booking system working. 

Happy Monday everyone..... 




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