I live not too far from the Turnberry Resort, which is beautifully situated on the Ayrshire coast overlooking the Ailsa golf course.
It is a very luxurious place, with room prices retailing outside the reach of normal man. Now that H is working, I selflessly thought it would be the perfect place for him to take me on a date, and luckily for me, he agreed.
As most of the wonderful-sounding restaurants fall into the same “you don’t have to be rich to come here, but…oh who are we kidding, you do” bracket as the rooms, I felt the noble thing to do was to opt for afternoon tea, which was still pretty jaw-dropping at Â£26 a head.
When I phoned up to book, I asked the lady on the end of the phone if jeans and a nice shirt were acceptable (H’s smart trousers are currently stashed in a relative’s attic).Â It transpires that denim is not advised, but if it isn’t ripped, then you might be okay.
I somewhat understand why fancy places like people to be smart. I suspect some diners believe it imbues the occasion with a certain specialness that will be tainted if a pair of jeans hoves into view. I, on the other hand, would rather be comfortable than awkwardly fiddling with a tight dress or kicking my shoes on and off due to sore toes. That’s not to say I don’t make something of an effort. I suppose it is just that I believe jeans and a shirt are good enough, and can’t really understand why they would offend anyone.
We arrived and were seated at a window table with a view out over the links to the sea. Pretty spectacular, and worth a portion of the price for sure.
Menus were passed out and there was a choice of two afternoon teas. One was their standard, which talked vaguely about cake, scones and so on, and the other was their Summer tea, which specifically listed everything. We opted for the latter, and while I asked for a hot chocolate, H was treated to the services of the tea sommelier.
This very nice gentleman rolled his trolley over, and with a flourish, opened two boxes filled with different types of loose-leaf tea. He ran H through all the varieties, but H was already quite keen on a Gunpowder Mint tea he’d spied on the menu, so he chose that.
A pot was filled, and a 3-part timer was passed across, with the recommendation we gauge the perfection of the brew in relation to the central sand-timer. I thought this was pretty awesome!
It wasn’t long until our stand of goodies arrived. Once you chomp your way through the savouries on the bottom two tiers, they bring out an additional plate of sweet treats, namely the scones and cake.
Our savoury selection comprised some mini burgers (and they would rather patrons didn’t wear jeans!), coronation chicken rolls, salmon rillettes and cucumber pinwheels. There was also a shot of melon juice each.
All of it was very enjoyable. The burgers were moist, the coronation chicken creamy yet tangy, the salmon rillettes had a delicious smoky taste with only the cucumber pinwheels proving a letdown, with spongy bread and a bland interior (why do people think cucumber sandwiches are all that?). The melon shots tasted of melon, although they reminded H of the French fruit nectars one can sometimes find in specialist food shops here.
Then it was on to the sweet treats.
It may sound mundane, but the plain scones with rich clotted cream and juicy strawberry preserves were probably the thing I remember most fondly. The fruit scones were good too, though I was less enamoured with the Dundee cake, not through any fault of its own but because I’m not a dark fruit cake fan.
The lemon cake (which can be seen peeping out from under the Dundee cake above) was good. Sweet and moist with a distinctive lemon flavour, H kindly traded me some of his for my fruit cake.
The delicate pastries (see top tier, second pic) were all very pleasant too, though none of them blew me away. The raspberry millefeuille had lovely crisp pastry but I think it would have benefitted from the addition of some raspberry jam in the centre, for sweetness. The strawberry tart was delicate, but while I love pastry cream, I found this one a bit sweet (I know, am I ever happy?!).
The glass at the back of the aforementioned picture contained a lime posset. This was very, very rich. A bit like eating lemon curd on a spoon. There was a zingier layer at the bottom that helped alleviate the creaminess, but I mostly left this to H.
The coconut macaroon filled with chocolate was probably my favourite of the quartet. Sitting somewhere between a French macaron and a coconut macaroon in taste and texture, the smooth creamy chocolate filling complemented the chewy coconut shell perfectly.
The staff were wonderfully attentive and polite, and I would definitely return to try a different season of tea if I was feeling very rich, but I think I’m going to experiment with some less expensive local options first.
Note 1: Alas, Turnberry doesn’t like people linking to their website without written permission, but a search engine is your friend here.
Note 2: H and I both wielded my camera so I’m not certain who took what, though I suspect the above are all his.