I think there are few foodie things more epitomically girly than a High Tea. There’s something about it that screams feminine – and somehow I can’t picture a rough and rugged man snacking on dainty tartlets, cucumber sandwiches, and rose-decorated teacups. Of course, that’s the ideal image of a High Tea that only exists in my imagination … And now, it seems, at Leonardslee Lake and Gardens.
I’ve been to dozens of High Teas before – some great, some less so, but none that match the image in my head of what the perfect High Tea should be. I had resolved that perhaps the perfect High Tea doesn’t exist, that my imagination was just that – imaginary – and the real world wouldn’t allow for my daydreams of pink roses and fluffy clouds. But when I recently ventured out to Horsham to experience the Afternoon Tea at Leonardslee House, I was reminded that, sometimes, what we imagine can come true. And ideals do exist.
Back to 2018
Let me backtrack. I first visited the spectacular Interlude Restaurant at Leonardslee Lake & Gardens last year, and forever vowed to come back during the day to visit the gardens. Turns out day-time visits aren’t complete without tea, so the enormously talented Chef Jean Delport (who’s just managed to snag a Michelin Star for Interlude) invited the I Love Foodies team back to experience the last bit of summer.
The Long Trek To Foodom
As my luck would have it, it was a beautifully sunny day in London when we hopped on the train … but by the time we got to Horsham, the sky was dark and grey. And very wet. But nothing would stop us from making the most of our experience, and we kept in good spirits, enjoying the bus ride that seemed to take aeons (we were very hungry) and then taking a leisurely stroll through part of the gardens and down to Leonardslee House and the main restaurant. By this time it had stopped raining, thank goodness, but we were still quite pleased to get inside and warm up.
The Afternoon Tea Options
There are two Afternoon Tea options available at Leonardslee. Numero One is the Classic Afternoon Tea, consisting of three acts.
Finger sandwiches (cucumber & cream cheese, Leonardslee cured chalkstream trout, estate egg mayo)
Seasonal savouries (coronation chicken bun, Caprese tartlet, gougeres)
Home-baked raisin & plain scones (served with clotted cream, strawberry preserve, and lemon curd)
Selection of individual seasonal patisseries
Choice of cake
You can enjoy the Classic Afternoon Tea with a selection of loose leaf tea (£40) or a glass of the Benguela Cove ‘Joie De Vivre’ MCC (£50).
Then there is the Savoury Afternoon Tea option. Act II and Act III are the same as above, but Act I is replaced by a choice of a savoury meal. Options here include the Leonardslee Scotch Egg, Eggs Royale, or the Game Terrine. Again, this option is available with tea (£43) or a glass of MCC (£53).
Our Personal Experience
Usually when I Love Foodies heads out to reviews, there will only be two of us. As per usual, I dragged my friend (and photographer) Kassandra along. But her mom was up visiting, so we dragged her along too! Luckily so, coz Kassandra’s mom ordered the Savoury Afternoon Tea, while Kass and I both opted for the Classic Afternoon Tea.
I Died And Went To Scotch Egg Heaven
I must be honest, even though I had been craving the cucumber sandwich experience, I did have a tinge of food envy when Kassandra’s mom’s Scotch Egg arrived. Luckily I got to try a bit, and this is without a doubt the BEST Scotch Egg I have ever tasted!!! I’ve always liked Scotch Eggs coz they’re kinda cool but never thought of them as a particularly flavoursome and delicate treat. But Leonardslee definitely changed my mind on this. Though, that said, they probably also spoiled Scotch Eggs for me, coz no Scotch Egg could possibly live up to the standard that Leonardslee House has set.
The entire Afternoon Tea experience was like that though. This was it – the fairytale High Tea I had always dreamed of. The setting was beyond classically beautiful, with the sweet sounds of a piano playing in the background, the rain coming and going outside, and the chit-chat of ladies around. The crockery was complete with pink flowers, just the way I always hoped High Tea crockery would be. The MCC was delicious (Benguela Cove always is), the tea was fresh, the savoury bites were delicious, the scones were spectacular, and the patisserie options were almost too beautiful to eat! Of course, only almost, coz we devoured everything … in a very classy, lady-like way, of course.
I couldn’t fault a thing. Except, perhaps, the fact that it was too perfect and will now forever have spoilt any future High Tea experiences. And, perhaps, that I didn’t have the opportunity to steal some more finger sandwiches … But at a cost of £40 – akin to pretty much every other only average High Tea I have been to – I have absolutely no doubt that I’ll be back to Leonardslee for more experiences pretty soon.
The Garden Walks
And, in case you were wondering, I did indeed have the chance to walk through the gardens. By the time we finished the Afternoon Tea experience, the rain had also ceased. So we promptly embarked on a 30-minute walk through the beautiful gardens before heading back to London. Of course, there is much, much, much more to explore. But there always is another day.
Experience the Afternoon Tea at Leonardslee
(Hey, I just realised that rhymes …)
By now it’ll be fairly obvious that I can only recommend the Leonardslee House Afternoon Tea experience a million times. And a million times more. It is without a doubt worth every minute you spend travelling to get there, worth every penny you’ll spend, worth every calorie you’re ingesting. Make it your goal to experience this on your next day off! And – lucky for you – the Afternoon Tea will be back on the menu after a two-week hiatus from tomorrow onwards!
Address: Leonardslee Gardens, Brighton Road, Lower Beeding, Horsham RH13 6PP
Opening Times: Wednesday – Saturday (13:00 – 16:00), Sunday (12:00 – 16:00)
Call: +44 1403 289 490
Article Date: October 2019
Photos by @delishkass.
All information correct at time of publication. We do not accept any liability caused by errors, including, but not limited to, changes in price, menu, opening times, address, or other contact details.
All images, unless otherwise stated, belong to I Love Foodies and may not be used for social media, websites, or any other form of advertising without written consent, unless an image is re-posted to directly advertise and link to this review, and with credit given to @ilovefoodiesct AND @delishkass.