Just before Christmas we booked to have festive afternoon tea as a family at one of our local Dobbies garden centres – Dobbies Hare Hatch near Reading. We hadn’t been to a Dobbies before and were interested to see what the garden centre was like – as well as looking forward to the afternoon tea!
Festive Afternoon Tea at Dobbies Garden Centre
For afternoon tea at Dobbies you have to book so that it can be prepared in advance. When we arrived we went straight to the cafe and let them know we were there for afternoon tea and they had a table ready for us – set up with all our crockery, cutlery, a tablecloth and napkins.
We were asked what drinks we’d like and chose tea for Dave and I whilst the children had hot chocolates – complete with whipped cream! Dobbies had a wide variety of teas available and we could have had coffee if we’d wanted to. Both tea and coffee come with free refills and there’s the option to upgrade to a latte, cappuccino, mocha, hot chocolate or speciality tea for just 50p extra but without the free refills.
The afternoon tea came out on traditional 3 tier cake stands and looked fantastic. We couldn’t wait to get stuck in! The adult afternoon tea started with a selection of finger sandwiches filled with turkey and cranberry sauce, salmon, lemon and chive, and brie and grape. The fillings were a nice change to traditional sandwich fillings and we really enjoyed them.
We then enjoyed a tier full of sweet treats – a Black Forest tart, raspberry and chocolate brownie, Christmas pudding, mince pie and a mini macaroon. These were so rich and so filling but so full of flavour. They were lovely!
We finished with festive scones served with Cornish clotted cream and jam. These were a great way to finish our afternoon tea although the scones didn’t seem particularly festive, just typical scones.
The children dug straight into their children’s festive afternoon tea, starting with finger sandwiches, filled with ham, jam and tuna, followed by a Black Forest tart, strawberry dessert with cream and a chocolate iced muffin. The strawberry dessert was different to advertised – the menu said a chocolate dessert – but the children didn’t seem to mind!
The children finished with scones that were strangely served with cream cheese and crudites – carrot and cucumber sticks plus grape halves – rather than cream and jam. This was very strange but we shared our cream and jam between us.
Dobbies offered a few different upgrades with the afternoon tea as well as the drinks upgrade. There was the choice to have extra savoury treats like prawn marie rose vol au vents, savoury cheese vol au vents and pigs in blankets with gravy and cranberry sauce for an extra £2.95. You could also add a 200ml bottle of Prosecco for £6.35 per adult.
We really enjoyed our Dobbies afternoon tea. It was the perfect festive treat and something we loved indulging in as a family. There was so much food and we were all pretty stuffed afterwards – although we did have enough energy left to potter around the garden centre which had a really nice variety of gifts, toys and homeware on offer.
The actual cafe wasn’t too exciting, a pretty standard garden centre cafe with basic tables and chairs, windows looking out to a walkway and not a huge amount of atmosphere. We were surprised there wasn’t any Christmas music playing but the afternoon tea was great value so the lack of ambience wasn’t a problem.
Sadly, at the moment Dobbies don’t offer gluten free or vegan afternoon tea but do ask about allergies and intolerances at the time of booking.
The Dobbies Festive Afternoon Tea cost just £13.50 per adult and £8.50 per child. They also have traditional afternoon tea served all year and other seasonal options at times too. You can see the Dobbies afternoon tea menu here. Find your local Dobbies garden centre and book afternoon tea over on the Dobbies website.