Out For Afternoon Tea At Croots Farm Shop Cafe
I love an Afternoon Tea at any time of the year, but there’s something a bit special about it when the sun is shining over fields that have lambs and foals in them. Croots Farm Shop is located in Duffield and, as well as having a farm shop and cafe, is still a working farm; inside the cafe are photos of the family’s previous years’ successes showing their livestock at various agricultural shows
The Man Bird and I have visited the venue a couple of times officially for the blog (and many times informally) but it was the first time Mummy Bird had been there and she positively beamed as we made our way up the long winding driveway. There’s plenty of parking at Croots Farm Shop and we pulled into a space as close to the entrance as possible on the opposite side to the child’s play area.
To get to the cafe itself you have to go through the Aladdin’s cave of the farm shop; I say that in the nicest possible way, because it really does have everything you could possibly want: food, drink, cards and gifts. All the usual anti-covid measures were in place: sanitiser, QR code for the NHS Track-n-Trace app, face masks and one way system.
We were shown to our table, a lovely spot in the window that gave us fab views out over the fields so we could watch the antics of the younger farm animals. The sturdy, solid wood tables and chairs (grey banquette seats against the wall near the window) all had pots of fresh Rosemary on them, and the aroma was simply gorgeous in the summer breeze.
A very polite young lady came and asked what we’d like to drink; Mummy and I opted for tea whilst The Man had coffee. Two more wonderful members of the Croots team brought out our Afternoon Tea platters and they were loaded to the rafters – even the single one looked a veritable feast!
Chef Kelvin Guest came over to say hello and talked us through the platters: Date Scones with Apricot jam and Roddas Clotted Cream on the top tier, Triple Chocolate Brownie, Cherry Bakewells and fresh Strawberries on the middle tier, and Ham and Mustard Quiche, Beef and Horseradish Mayo, and Egg and Cress Mayonnaise sandwiches on the bottom tier.
I dived straight in to the homemade Quiche; it really did look yummy on the platter. The shortcrust pastry just melted as soon as it hit the warmth of my mouth, the buttery richness allowing it to linger a moment on the tongue. What I call ‘proper’ Ham was abundant throughout the egg-rich filling and there was a marvellous Mustard twang clearly coming through on the palate. A delicate seasoning brought out all the flavours brilliantly and I couldn’t have wanted a better start to my Afternoon Tea experience at Croots Farm Shop.
Mummy Bird and His Nibs had both chosen to begin with the sandwiches: Mummy with the Egg, Cress and Mayonnaise, Him with the Beef and Horseradish Mayo. All the sandwiches were triangles rather than finger varieties and there were white and country grain breads on offer (made by local, Riddings-based baker, Luke Evans). There is something soul-satisfying about fresh, springy bread and we all grinned as we bit into its glorious softness that provided the perfect back-drop against which the fillings could shine. His Nibs commented on the tenderness of the thinly sliced Beef and on how flavoursome it was, too; the tangy Horseradish proved to be the ideal partner to the meat. Both Mummy Bird and I were happy that the Egg and Cress morsel wasn’t soggy, despite the deep layer of it that there was; Chef Kelvin, happily, doesn’t skimp on the amount of filling that he puts into any of his Afternoon Tea components and our tummies were soon filling up nicely.
As we were tucking in and chatting away happily amongst ourselves, Kay and Steve Croot, the husband and wife team who run the farm shop and cafe, came over to say hello. This beautiful farm has been in Kay’s family (the Yates) since the 1960’s and she is rightly proud of how its family-orientated character has remained constant over the decades, although it has diversified and adapted over that time. Steve told us how the farm had been a real hub for the community during the Covid pandemic, especially during that first lock-down when many people couldn’t get to the shops. Like the rest of us, he was looking forward to things finally getting back to ‘normal’.
At this point one of the team came over and asked if we’d like more drinks – to which we replied “yes, please”. At Croots Farm Shop they use Brew Tea Company’s loose leaf tea, and Mummy Bird and I were very impressed by the flavour of the leaves; this refreshment comes in several varieties so there’s sure to be something for every palate. His Nibs’ coffee comes courtesy of 200 degree coffee which he’s had before and really likes.
With the savouries efficiently dispatched it was time to turn our attentions to the sweet treats, and not a moment too soon for my Mummy Bird who had been bouncing like Tigger at the thought of how good the Date scone was going to be! The scone was everything she’s been hoping for, and everything you could want in a fruited morsel; light and airy in texture, with plenty of pieces of sticky, fragrant Date to excite the taste buds. The fruitiness of the Dates paired sublimely with lighter tones of the Apricot jam and the sunny tones of the jam looked great against the pale scone. Thick, indulgent Clotted Cream just elevated the luxury factor up the shy-high levels and there were murmurs of gluttonous appreciation emanating from us all!
Just as we thought things couldn’t get any more indulgent, along came Chef Kelvin’s Triple Choc Brownie. Oh.My.Word. This was one intensely rich minx whose cocoa blast had us all smacking our lips; we’ve had many a brownie over the years, but this one is insanely good! By this point we were near-delirious with cocoa joy, so we finished off with a more sober Cherry Bakewell. Now, calling it ‘sober’ doesn’t mean it was ordinary by any stretch, please don’t go thinking that; what I mean to convey is the fact that it was devoid of any cocoa influence that sends that pleasure centre in the brain into hyper-drive.
All of us remarked on the buttery taste of the pastry and its wicked crumbliness and the fact that there was a decent amount of raspberry jam in the centre; one of my pet peeves is Bakewells where there’s so little jam that you don’t get that fruity hit, it needs to be there to contrast against the frangipane. Luckily, Chef Kelvin Guest feels the same as me and there was a delectable Raspberry taste coming through clearly, with lovely moist Frangipane partnering it.
It had been a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon for the three of us over in Duffield, and when Chef confirmed that they do indeed serve breakfasts, Mummy’s eyes sparkled excitedly. Safe to say that we’ll be visiting again soon then! Hot Wings happily awarded to the Croots Farm Shop team for this outstandingly good Afternoon Tea, which at £15 per person (for a minimum of two people) is certainly value for money. I would advise that you book ahead to reserve your table as it does get busy, especially at peak times.