Surrey’s best tea shops: Parisian-style cafes to countryside coffee houses
10:00 08 March 2016
Every month, Surrey Life magazine showcases one of the area’s best tea shops, from Parisian pantries to countryside coffee houses. Below you’ll find abridged versions of Louise Johncox’s Tea Shop Trail column...
Our monthly reviewer, Louise Johncox’s parents, Peter and Frankie Johncox, ran Peter’s tea shop in Weybridge from 1958 until 2000 when they retired.
If you think there's a tea shop that should Surrey Life should review, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow the links below for the full reviews of each tea/coffee shop...
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine February 2015
The Pickled Pantry is a unique independent café with a welcoming, professional service and a wide, varied menu. The supper clubs and life-drawing classes make this a true community café.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine January 2015
A wonderful continental patisserie packed with exquisite pastries, worth travelling to for a special occasion or afternoon delight.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine December 2015
Set in the gorgeous Manor Lounge, the Afternoon Tea at Foxhills is pure luxury.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine October 2015
I was really impressed with Cakewalk. The cakes were superb, the service was warm and welcoming, and the venue is light and airy.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine September 2015
A lovely tea room to escape to with an excellent selection of home-made cakes and light lunches. The traditional décor makes this a classic teatime experience while the modern gifts mean you may well find that special present you’re looking for too.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine August 2015
The Lakeside Coffee Shop serves affordable coffee with a great selection of home-made cakes and savouries. The staff are young, friendly and welcoming while the bright décor is just the tonic. Students, staff and visitors are lucky to have such an original well-run coffee shop with home-made food at the heart of the university campus. Other universities, and even other coffee shops, could learn a thing or two from this successful café venture.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine July 2015
After our afternoon tea, we entered the magical walled gardens, with roses and herbs to vegetables, and wandered past the lawn with the ancient mulberry tree. We may not have walked off all the calories but it was an absolute delight.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine June 2015
The Afternoon Teas are increasingly popular, especially on Sundays and for baby showers and hen parties. The French Tarte also offers gift vouchers for Afternoon Teas. If you want exquisite French pastries for a special occasion, this is the place to go – but don’t eat any lunch beforehand!
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine May 2015
I had never visited Wisley before, despite having grown up in Weybridge and still living in Surrey now, and I’d highly recommend looking around these beautiful gardens before or after tea. During our visit, we came across a flowering plant with a captivating scent so we went to the nursery where a member of staff helped us track down the Sarcococca confusa – which I bought as a gift for my mum. A reminder of our special afternoon tea.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine April 2015
The Afternoon Tea at The Lightbox was a delight –and very generous given that we had some scones left on the plate. I was impressed with the Ingram Collection and will definitely be back with my family to check out the Damien Hirst exhibition and that fascinating museum about Woking’s history. I left feeling lucky to have discovered both culture and cakes in Woking’s inspirational arts centre.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine March 2015
Vintage Dotty is a welcome addition to Kingston, being independent and evoking a 1940s tea room with classic cakes mixed with modern offerings. The historic building and vintage-themed environment add to the charm of the teatime experience. “People are fed up of the same chains dominating our high streets and Kingston was definitely in need of a little haven for tea-drinkers and cake-lovers!” adds Rebecca. I’ll second that.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine February 2015
This family-run business is a welcome addition to Cranleigh High Street where great care has been taken over the refined décor, friendly ambience, and a menu offering delightful cakes and savouries. We visited shortly after Maddalenas had opened and it was already doing a brisk trade with tables full and people enjoying the varied menu.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine January 2015
On the day I visited, there was a warm atmosphere in the café with a mix of customers, some with dogs. We had gone there specifically for afternoon tea but the plates of savoury meals, particularly the quiche and salads, looked very generous and wholesome. The staff and customers were so friendly that I felt immediately at home and aware that Mila is a popular café at the heart of the community.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine December 2014
Pinnock’s has become the heart of the community where all sorts of groups meet – from the Knit and Stitch Club to the local History Society. In December, why not take the chance to explore Ripley Christmas Market and then pop into Pinnock’s for a little taste of foodie heaven?
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine November 2014
The lunch was an unexpected hit plus the traditional selection of cakes ensures that everyone is happy. We also bought a bag of duck food (priced at just 25p) at the tea room and ended the afternoon feeding ducks and exploring the park.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine October 2014
During the week, the majority of the customers are local residents and office workers who enjoy the speciality coffee, seasonal menu and cakes. Large groups of parents also frequent the café in term-time. As well as the café itself, there is also a retail section in-store and online, plus they offer their own brand of cycling gear and other exclusive labels. The atmosphere was buzzing, the cakes and coffee were excellent and I left determined to get back on my bike.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine September 2014
On the day I visited, there was an International Youth Arts Festival with various activities and special shows. There was a lively atmosphere and a good crowd in the café enjoying a bite to eat before taking in an event or performance.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine August 2014
Afterwards, we enjoyed a visit to the ceramics gallery where we were impressed with the original designs. I set my heart on a few of the unique ranges picturing them in my home! We also enjoyed a good mooch around the gift shop where you can find all sorts of original presents from ceramics and candles to kitchenware. The pottery offers decorating workshops too – perfect for the café loving creative. We left feeling happy, with plans to return with family and friends – surely the sign of an excellent café and gift shop.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine July 2014
The atmosphere is warm and friendly with welcoming staff. Our pastry was indulgent and there were a lot more tempting treats on the menu including the Italian classic, panettone (£5.25). The menu was appealing and all the food I saw on other plates looked appetising and in generous portions. This is the place to go for a genuine taste of Italy – on Weybridge High Street.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine June 2014
At The Mandolay, we found relaxed elegant surroundings, attentive service and an indulgent afternoon tea. The home-made mixed berry jam on warm scones with Cornish clotted cream was a highlight. My advice is to skip lunch! If you are partial to a gin and tonic then The Mandolay has the most extensive gin menu in Guildford. That’s a good reason for a return visit or you can always try the Champagne Afternoon Tea with a spot of jazz if you’re there on the right day.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine May 2014
Situated in the heart of the Surrey Hills between Polesden Lacey and Clandon Park, this is a perfect place to stop off for a cuppa. There was an excellent selection of cakes with a good mix of traditional home-made tasting pastries. The café was relaxed and the staff were friendly and helpful with suggestions. The café also has a licensed bar so if you fancy a champagne afternoon tea then this is the place to chill out and indulge. Keep an eye out for the offers.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine April 2014
The Speckledy Hen Café and Deli, Shamley Green
The Speckledy Hen has a welcoming, community feel and the owners have taken great care in producing an enticing menu for snacks, lunches and afternoon tea. In the spring and summer, Shamley Green is one of those quintessential English villages worth exploring before or after a visit to The Speckledy Hen. In addition, a six-mile walk has been created from The Speckledy Hen to its sister café, The Dabbling Duck in Shere, which you can find online at ifootpaths.com – perfect for breakfast in one and then lunch in the other.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine March 2014
The Vintage Cake House, Farnham
Both young and old will enjoy this vintage-style teatime experience. Plus, aside from having tea and cake and/or lunch, you can also hire the venue for up to two hours for a Vintage Tea Party making this a great place for afternoon tea lovers. Choose from a Vintage Tea Party menu (£16.95 a head) or the Cream Tea Party menu (£10.95 a head).
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine February 2014
A welcome addition to Surbiton, The Press Room is modern and stylish with a big selection of teas and quality coffees plus a good range of pastries and savouries. It is also conveniently situated close to the station and high street. “There is a real gap in the market for great coffee in the leafy suburbs, where you’ll find discerning customers with an educated palate but very few places where you can get great coffee and great service,” adds David. “Here, the local community has supported us so well over the last year that we hope to open more shops and are currently exploring options in Kingston, Richmond and Epsom.”
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine January 2014
Julia’s plans for the year ahead are to keep developing the home-made cake selection and the office catering service. The location of the café, off Guildford’s cobbled street, is ideal to escape the weekend crowds. The atmosphere is welcoming and there is plenty on the menu to excite the taste buds. We’ll be back!
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine December 2013
Shere is a lovely English village worth a visit at any time of year but especially over the festive period – not least because it also featured in Hollywood film The Holiday, set over Christmas and the New Year, starring Jude Law, Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz. After tea and cakes, you can wander to the nearby stream and listen to the dabbling ducks that inspired the name of the café. We strolled around the village and visited a craft fair in the local hall. All in all, just the place to get you in the mood for Christmas!
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine November 2013
One of the quotations in the menu is by Henry James taken from The Portrait of a Lady: “…there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” I certainly enjoyed a most agreeable hour or so with my mum sharing tea and delectable scones at The Tea Terrace with those gorgeous views over Guildford. I’ll be back soon for the apple and cinnamon scones, and maybe next time a window table.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine October 2013
Pinnock’s is ‘a cup above the rest’, as their literature states. The cakes are home-made on the premises and the different dining areas are welcoming and comfortable. In just over a year, Pinnock’s has firmly established its place in the local community; a place to enjoy coffee, cake and more in a convivial atmosphere.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine September 2013
The Richmond Hill Bakery has a lovely community feel with an excellent range of pastries and savoury dishes. I enjoyed the friendly family atmosphere and home-made slice of ginger cake and invigorating coffee. If you don’t live locally the café is worth a visit combined with a walk in Richmond Park. I bought a Moroccan rose candle as a little reminder of this special place. Cakes, coffee, gifts and art; a winning combination.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine August 2013
Ex Cellar has a cosy, family feel with a European flavour. It is refreshing to find home-made family favourites on the menu such as Grandma’s Treacle Tart and Aunt Ali’s Quiches. The Cavan bread also makes excellent sandwiches and accompaniment to the platters. Watch out for special themed food events ranging from wine and cheese evenings to a paella night.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine July 2013
One Forty is a friendly neighbourhood café where regulars can meet and chat over tea and cake or lunch. It’s also refreshing to find a family business featuring a homely café on the high street. Here you can treat yourself to a new outfit or a gift for a friend followed by a delicious slice of cake. You can even take advantage of the personal shopping service and take it easy in the café while someone does the shopping for you. Now that’s the life.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine June 2013
Sylvia describes The Green Rooms as ‘a café with good attitude’. “Godstone has been used as a ‘drive thru’ for a while now and we would love to make it a destination,” she says. The Green Rooms offers afternoon tea served on vintage china and an eclectic menu. After tea, you can stroll around the green and discover the delights of this village imagining what Plum Cake corner was like in the old days.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine May 2013
The Healthy Cook Co is a bakery and café that simply feels good for you. It’s got all the ingredients: homemade cakes and food made with care, comforting atmosphere and treats to take-away with you. Aside from small cakes you can order big cakes; the gluten and dairy free chocolate cake is the biggest seller followed by the egg free version then the carrot and raisin cake. Guilt free cakes to make you feel good.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine April 2013
One of those unearthly places that feels as if it belongs in another era, Eliza’s Tearoom is based at Secretts Farm in Milford, which was established in 1908 and is still owned by the same family. The tearoom is located in a timbered barn building beside their traditional and well stocked farm shop. From the moment you step inside the tearoom you are seduced into a sweet world of jazz music, timeless cakes and pots of tea or cafeterias of coffee. A message in the menu states, ‘For the comfort of our customers we request you turn off your mobile phone’. A perfect excuse to escape the modern world.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine March 2013
I was very excited to visit Bachmanns, the new patisserie in Weybridge High Street. This was the first time since 2000, when my parents decided to retire from running their tea shop, Peter’s, that I had seen such a display of crafted cakes in the town. Opened by Chris Bachmann in November 2012, the shop comes with quite some baking heritage. Chris’s Swiss father, Ernst, trained as a pastry chef in Switzerland and worked in several top London establishments, including The Dorchester, prior to opening the award-winning Bachmanns in Thames Ditton in 1989. When Ernst retired about four years ago, Chris took over the business. The new Weybridge venture is a classic continental patisserie featuring a counter oozing with pretty gateaux, breads and pastries plus several tables.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine February 2013
Having started as a gift and interiors shop in a tiny space on Ripley High Street in December 2010, not long after, Nest moved to larger premises on the opposite side of the road where a café was born. “I wanted to create an inspiring, stylish, warm place to shop and sip under one roof,” says owner Deborah Holden. “I created the kind of café I am always hoping to find around England, but that doesn’t seem to exist.” Deborah grew up surrounded by tableware and retail; her father had 40 tableware shops and her brother has three. She later worked for the Ralph Lauren Home Collection and for the fashion designer Amanda Wakeley before creating her own stylish venue.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine January 2013
Langshott Manor, near Horley
Langshott Manor is a charming, historic venue for a special afternoon tea, with the manor house at the heart of the estate a romantic setting, timber-framed with Tudor origins. Last century, Langshott was the home of Lord Montague of Brandon, 6th Baron, followed by Major Jennings who filled the house with six boy evacuees from the East End during the Second World War. The Hinchcliffes bought the house in 1997 and embarked on a refurbishment programme resulting in a transformation of the manor and gardens with a new restaurant and wing.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine December 2012
The Original Maids of Honour, Kew
Named after the ever-popular local cakes (more of which in a moment), the historic Maids of Honour tea shop dates back to the early 18th century when a bakery was established by the Newens family on the corner of Hill Street in Richmond. Having served as an apprentice at the shop, Robert Newens went on to open his own bakery around the corner in King Street in 1850, before moving to the larger, present site on the Kew Road in 1887. There, he established a new bakery with refreshment rooms and a shop, along with a delivery business, serviced by hand-carts and horsedrawn carts. The family tradition continued even after the property was badly damaged by a V2 rocket in 1944. Today, Maids of Honour is run by the Martin family of Kew, who took over from six generations of the Newens family in 2009, and is a charming tea house where all the pastries are baked on the premises. In fact, the chefs still use the same marble-topped tables that have been used to make the pastry since the 1800s!
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine November 2012
The Hothouse Cafe @ The Medicine Garden, Cobham
The inspiration behind The Medicine Garden is founder Paul Studholme who set out to transform the derelict Victorian walled garden and historic buildings into a place to ‘feed the soul’. “The Medicine Garden is about having a taste of good medicine – whether it be honest seasonal food, a plant, a piece of art or a spa treatment,” says Paul. In 2006, Paul, a plantsman by trade, won a long-term lease of the land and, following a major renovation project, he opened for business in June 2010. Today, you’ll find a magical walled garden, the Hothouse Café and a courtyard with ten independent businesses ranging from a garden shop to a food shop, The Larder, crafts studios and a spa treatment room. The Medicine Garden has a fascinating history dating back to around 1850 when Cobham Park Gardens was built by Young Harvey Coombe; this was the kitchen garden to Cobham Park, owned by the Coombe family, founders of the Coombe Brewery. The history of selling plants here dates back to 1793 making it likely to be the oldest garden shop in the country.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine October 2012
Petersham Nurseries, Richmond
Petersham Nurseries is a place to visit when you feel like spoiling yourself, a loved one or friends. Situated beside Petersham Meadows, near Richmond, as well as the wide selection of plants and associated paraphernalia, you will also find The Teahouse, which has recently been revamped, and the Petersham Nurseries Café where chef Greg Malouf has created a new menu since starting there at Easter. Owned by Gael and Francesco Boglione, Petersham Nurseries is set at the foot of their home, Petersham House. The garden-loving Bogliones bought the run-down business to save the nursery from being taken over by developers and/or multinational garden centres. After renovation, it re-opened in 2004, and is now a place for plant-lovers and those who enjoy seasonal food and original cakes amid tranquil surroundings.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine September 2012
Fanny’s Farm Shop, Merstham
One of our county’s real hidden gems, Fanny’s Farm Shop offers a unique teatime experience with home-made cakes and plenty of English eccentricity on the menu. Owner Fanny Maiklem opened up shop in 1979, to sell her glut of home-grown produce, later converting her chicken sheds into tea rooms and eventually adding a tree house for tea parties. Now she has launched the aptly named Pudding Room, perfect for groups to indulge in sweet delights (more of which in a moment). In the farm shop, meanwhile, you’ll find seasonal produce including fruits, vegetables, smoked meats, eggs, cheeses, jams, pickles and marmalade, which comes in over 70 varieties. With its bohemian gardens, plants for sale, old-fashioned signs, milk urns, chickens and pigs in pens, this Surrey setting feels almost like a cross between Glastonbury and Glyndebourne.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine July 2012
If you want to taste home-made cakes and enjoy hearty English food in the Surrey countryside then head for Tillings in Gomshall. Opened in August 2011 by Jane and Richard Radford, the idea was to provide a place for people to gather together and enjoy good quality food. When Jane spotted the former pub up for sale, she decided that this would be the venue for her dream café. “I had always wanted to open a deli/café and when I hit 50 it seemed the right time,” says Jane, 51, a former marketing executive. “I was aware that people are tired of things looking and tasting the same so here we make all our own cakes in the kitchen.”
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine June 2012
Watts Gallery, Compton
Located next to the popular Watts Gallery in Compton, if you enjoy fine art and traditional tea then this is the place to come. The tea shop building was originally a showroom for the Compton Pottery, established in 1901 by Mary Watts, the wife of GF Watts whose paintings are on display in the gallery. The tea room was refurbished two years ago, at the same time that the gallery underwent a major renovation, and re-opened in April 2010. Head chef Valerie Goddard has earned a reputation for her fresh, seasonal food sourced as locally as possible.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine May 2012
The Petersham, Richmond
The Petersham Hotel in Richmond is the place in Surrey to enjoy afternoon tea with a view. Built in 1865, this imposing hotel, with its tower and high-pitched roofs, looks out across Petersham Meadows to the definitive bend in the River Thames. This mesmerising view has been painted by many artists including Sir Joshua Reynolds and JMW Turner. Inspired by the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Museum of Richmond’s Happy & Glorious exhibition, the hotel’s head pastry chef, Alison Dabbs, 45, former pastry chef at The Cavalry and Guards Club, has created The Diamond Jubilee Afternoon Tea to celebrate a bygone era.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine April 2012
Five at the Bridge, East Molesey
Opened nine years ago by Martin Speed, a former antiques dealer, Five at the Bridge is situated across the road from the historic Hampton Court Palace. Martin previously ran an antique shop on the same premises but his ‘love of cooking’ led him to open a café. The place is popular with locals, tourists and The Times food critic, Giles Coren, who gave an excellent review after enjoying a mutton and butter bean lunch for £4.75.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine March 2012
The Tea Box, Richmond
Opened in October 2007 by owners Jemma Swallow and Mike De Souza, The Tea Box is a specialist tea house in the heart of Richmond offering over 60 varieties of tea and tea-infused treats. Jemma, 43, a former online editor, was inspired to open the tea house to pursue her passion for tea and to leave a legacy. Her partner, Mike, a former chef, also runs events at The Tea Box, including poetry jams, a noveltea club, a teanies group and tea-hee comedy nights. “Having a Yorkshire dad, I think I had tea in my baby bottle,” laughs Jemma. “I wanted to create a tea house that is unique and I believe we offer some of the best teas in the world.”
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine February 2012
Nonsuch Pantry, Cheam
Located next to the stunning Nonsuch Mansion, which was built in 1731, Nonsuch Pantry re-opened in June 2011 after being refurbished, making it a special rendezvous in a beautiful setting. Run by Julie and Andrew Gray, The Pantry certainly seems to have won the approval of Surrey Life readers, judging by the number of recommendations we have received! The Grade II Georgian mansion house is set in 300 acres of parkland so there is no excuse not to go for a lovely walk before or after your tea and cake.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine January 2012
The Vintage Tea House, Reigate
Opened in July 2005 by owner Nina Cooper, 45, the Vintage Tea House is both a charming specialist tea room and a gift shop. Nina was inspired to open her own tea room/shop following a stint running a café at Dulwich Picture Gallery. Nina’s husband, Phil Cooper, a Michelin-starred chef and head chef for the Mark Hix group, helped devise the menu. He has plenty of experience having worked with Michel Roux Sr at The Waterside Inn and Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. “I wanted to combine selling gifts and furniture with a tea room,” explains Nina. “Also, Reigate is a lovely market town and there is a strong community feel.”
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine November 2011
The Chocolate Teapot, Esher
Opened in August 2010 by owner Jane Holt, a youthful 57-year-old who gave up a career as a nursery teacher to follow her dream of running her own tea shop, The Chocolate Teapot is a charming tea house tucked away near Esher station.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine October 2011
The Magna Carta Tearoom, Egham
Opened in March 1996 by Richard Knight, 46, a former advertising executive, and his wife, Leigh, the Magna Carta Tearoom is situated on the edge of the historic Runnymede meadows.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine September 2011
The French Tarte, Surbiton
Opened in January by husband and wife team Sarah and Eric Guignard, who run The French Table restaurant next door, The French Tarte is a beautiful boulangerie/patisserie that brings a slice of French life into the heart of Surbiton.