I find myself in somewhat of a dilemma. I now know how Thomas Anderson felt when confronted with a red pill and a blue pill. When Catherine had to choose between Heathcliff and Edgar, that problem, I now feel her pain. You see I want to support local business and write a good review, but what if it's been bad? Do I set aside my integrity in the quest for popularity? Do I risk the ire of loyal customers and only speak the truth, like the magical sitar?
Well here we go...
The Art-deco frontage possibly lulled me into a belief I was heading to a Denny based Willow Tea Rooms-esque experience. I suppose the Tea-Room name conjured up similar hopes, all of which were dashed once my friend and I opened the door.
There was one free table out of the four and we had to perform some Cirque Du Soleil contortionist audition to squeeze through. When we did the plastic covered table we sat at was stained with little puddles of the previous however many visitors tea and coffee. The laminated sheet of folded A4 paper listed a decent choice of sandwiches, toasties and jacket potatoes. We picked a jacket spud with cheese and a tuna toastie to eat. I ordered a pot of tea, my mate upgraded his coffee from cup to mug sized.
We went up to the counter to order and the friendly lady behind the counter told me they had no jacket potatoes. No worries, we thought ham and cheese toastie instead . The lovely lady disappeared out the back again. When she emerged it was to break the news that the ham wasn't defrosted (they use frozen ham?!!) and what else would we like. At this point another lady who worked in the adjoining shop said we would be better off asking what they did have. I still don't know if she was joking or whether this occurred so frequently that's what the regulars do! We eventually confirmed the presence of an onion out the back and so a cheese and onion toastie was finally ordered.
The food and drink arrived promptly enough and was just what I had expected. The toasties were well filled, crunchy on the outside and piping hot on the inside. They were accompanied by some crunchy coleslaw, a handful of crisps and a small amount of chopped lettuce and tomato. My tea came in a little stainless steel pot along with milk and sugar, my friends coffee was indeed a mug of coffee, but sadly more Roy's Rolls than Starbucks. Price wise it was cheap, the toasties were under £3 and drinks another couple of quid.
The whole experience just seemed a bit unprofessional, like a church hall coffee morning rather than a business and its a shame. There is virtually no competition in Denny at the moment for a decent lunch so the door is wide open for any venue to succeed, especially if the staff bill is reduced by well-meaning volunteers and tea and coffee is donated . The Friends Tea Room may settle for being the volunteers canteen, or it could push on, up it's game and become a destination in its own right.
Through 10k races, midnight tiara walks and visiting the shops my family and I do our best to support a fantastic local charity and using the tearoom is another way of showing your support for a great cause. If however you fancy a better lunch, head to the Courtyard Coffee Shop or Wellsfield instead.