*Afternoon Tea paid for myself and not gifted*
Hi everyone, I hope you’re all well!
Welcome to the next post in my Best In Sussex blog series where I choose different cuisines, review 10 places that offer it in Sussex, and choose a winner. We are currently doing Afternoon Tea, and this is the 5th post in the series, so we are officially halfway through.
This is the first negative review in the series; I have been 100% honest in every review, and although I’m not one to want to tear anyone down or speak negatively about a business, I also feel I have a duty to review somewhere honestly and not let anyone reading this waste their money.
I had high hopes for Ashdown Park Hotel; the grounds and the hotel in itself from the outside are absolutely gorgeous, and I was so excited to try it.
Ashdown Park Hotel & Afternoon Tea Menu
Homemade Sandwiches (Ham, Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese, Egg Mayonnaise, Cream Cheese & Cucumber)
A Selection of Cakes
Scones (Plain & Fruit) With Accompanying Pots of Jam & Clotted Cream, Served with Strawberries
A Selection of Teas & Coffees
A Selection of Champagnes & Wines
The room in which Afternoon Tea was held, I feel was dated, and looked quite dusty and unclean, at least where we were sat anyway. I understand that it’s traditional and classic, but I feel that it looked like it hadn’t been freshened up or cleaned properly for quite some time. It also didn’t really feel like it was made for Afternoon Tea; the armchairs were very low, the tables even lower, so it made it really difficult to actually eat. The curtain drapes and the art on the walls were lovely though, and as I said, the grounds and building itself are beautiful.
The staff were lovely; I couldn’t fault the two women who served us, they were polite, friendly and professional, so this review is not negative towards them at all.
The first issue was that the Afternoon Tea was brought out nearly immediately, before our drinks had even been served. Now, I’m aware that things are pre-made, especially in an Afternoon Tea. Of course they’re not going to make everything from scratch whilst you’re there. However, when it’s brought out straight away and the food is clearly stale, it leads you to believe that everything has just been left sitting there.
I know I normally go from the top tier down in my Afternoon Tea reviews, but with this one I feel I have to go bottom tier up.
The champagne was pleasant and crisp, although two glasses added near enough an extra £30 onto the bill.
The sandwiches were completely stale; the bread was as though they were made a few weeks ago and had been left sitting, uncovered in the open air. Not only that, but I feel no care was taken. For example, the Ham Sandwich was completely lacking in any flavour. It was as though some stale bread had been taken, cheap ham slapped inside and job done. It was a massive let down. I can’t comment on the fillings past a certain point, as I took a bite of each and found them flavourless and rock hard, so couldn’t eat anymore.
The scones were average; they weren’t unpleasant, but they weren’t fantastic either. I think because of the sandwiches being so stale, I was erring on the side of caution with everything else served.
The Chocolate & Coffee Cake was nice; the flavours were rich and it was moist, however I would say that was the only redeeming feature of the cakes. The Jam & Cream bun was also completely and utterly stale; I know that the bun itself is obviously going to have some firmness to it, but this was just stale. The macaroon was similar, it had the taste that it had been made some time ago and left out.
The little tarts towards the back with the blackberry on top were pleasant enough in terms of topping, however the pastry was rock hard.
When asking for the bill, I explained my issues with the stale food, and was simply told that I should’ve let them know and they would’ve replenished them. I think they missed the point here; the food should not have been brought out stale in the first place; you shouldn’t have to send things back, least of all because they’re stale. Also, I think that when you have a bad experience with food in a restaurant, you don’t necessarily want a replacement, as you aren’t exactly full of confidence in the food at that point. Nothing was offered in terms of money off the bill etc, and there was no apology, which was really disappointing.
All in all, I was completely let down by Ashdown Park Hotel; the Afternoon Tea lacked any care, attention or detail; I love a classic Afternoon Tea don’t get me wrong, and I don’t require modern twists or anything like that, but this was just thrown onto plates and brought out, probably a considerable amount of time beforehand. The quality of food, namely the savoury options, was unacceptable, and for the cost of £74 (!) for it alongside a glass of champagne each, is just not okay.
I don’t like to bash places if I can help it, but after parting with the best part of £100, and such a negative experience, I want to be honest and share it with you all.
You can visit their website here: https://www.ashdownpark.com/
Heart Rating Out Of 5: ♥
I’ll be posting another review soon – hopefully this time a bit more positive! As always, if you’re a restaurant in Sussex wanting to get involved, please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org – I look forward to hearing from you!
All my love BGP xx