You might have heard people shouting about Jesmond Dene House in Jesmond, a student hot spot just outside of Newcastle city centre. It’s a stunning luxury boutique hotel housed in a fairytale Arts and Crafts building that is set in the beautiful surroundings and greenery of the dene. It’s quite rightly a popular and impressive place to eat and rest your head. What you may not of heard of, however, is its sister hotel, St Mary’s Inn, which is a pub and B&B on the site of the old St Mary’s Hospital, just outside of Morpeth. I must admit, I hadn’t heard of it either, so was more than keen to pay a visit when I was invited to check out their afternoon tea a couple of weeks ago.
Where Is It?
St Mary’s Inn is actually not as close to Morpeth as I thought it would be. Luckily I was driving there and passed through the beautiful village of Stannington to get there from the South. Lots of windy roads later, the sat nav was telling me to turn into what looked like a building site. So naturally I ignored it and went the other way. Turns out, it was right.
Slightly unfortunately for St Mary’s Inn, there is a huge housing development being built right around it. I’m sure when it is finished, it will generate a huge amount of business for them, but the meantime they have to put up with less than ideal bedroom views of muddy fields and heavy machinery.
The building itself is no Arts and Crafts beauty, but it has its red brick charms. Once you step through the doors, you are welcomed with a warm glow into a cosy bar, with a fire burning in every grate. There are little nooks and crannies to explore and I was soon seated near a window in one of the eating areas.
What Will I Find There?
St Mary’s Inn is a B&B with a bar and restaurant attached. I had a quick peek around the rooms and they were very tastefully decorated, with wrought iron beds, copious cushions and spacious en suites. But the real hook for me was the afternoon tea they offer in the restaurant. I decided to sit and enjoy a spot of wedding planning over mine.
As is usual with afternoon tea, I was served everything together and started with the savouries. The sandwiches – ham and pease pudding, egg mayo, smoked salmon, beef and horseradish – were served in soft, white bread, homemade on site.
Now, I’m the first to admit that I am not one for being too refined. I like big portions, informal presentation and lots of crumbs. Just for the record, I have nothing against crusts and would have happily eaten them had they existed. I’m not sure I get the whole aversion to them with afternoon tea! I am dying to try one that is brave enough to keep the crusts on. A less delicate afternoon tea that has got some big wedges and chunks of things to really get stuck into. Anyone know of any?
Anyway, onward. To the scones: three in fact. Wow. They were crumbly and squidgy. In my opinion, there could have been a bit more fruit in there, but I like my scones LADEN with the sweet stuff, which I know isn’t for everyone. Still, very delicious.
Last up, the smorgasbord of desserts. I was really spoilt here! On the menu:
- Lemon Balm and Mango Pannacotta (fruity, smooth with a bit of a crunch from some white chocolate crispy bits on the top, which just took it to the next level)
- Chocolate and Vanilla Marshmallow Truffle (less of a truffle, more of a cake but delicious nevertheless and pride of place in my pictures for a reason!)
- Raspberry Red Velvet Cake with cream cheese frosting (a very light and fluffy cake with a generous dollop of frosting on the top)
- Pineapple Mint and Milk Chocolate Macaroon (I was not expecting to like this – pineapple and mint sounds too weird for my amateurish palate, but it was delicious! I love macaroons and this one was perfectly crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle, with a lovely glittery dusting to finish it off. MORE PLEASE.)
After I finished I was pleasantly full without being horribly stuffed. I hadn’t had any lunch before I went and only fancied a light tea afterwards. I was probably still riding the sugar wave high until bedtime. Needless to say this was in no way shape or form a low carb or healthy meal. But it was delicious. And a real treat. And I powered through my wedding tasks, so something must have been right!
If you fancy treating someone, or even yourself, then take yourself up to St Mary’s Inn. It’s got a lovely relaxed atmosphere, it’s cosy and the staff are super friendly. They even allow dogs into the main bar so you might make a furry friend when you go.
So there you have it: tasty sandwiches, crumbly scones and a whole array of sweet treats. What’s not to like? Don’t forget to check out St Mary’s Inn on Facebook and Twitter if you want to find out more. And let me know if you’ve been up there and what you thought!
Thanks to Scarlett PR for providing some of the shots!