Monday, 18 June 2012

Hathaway Tea Rooms, Stratford-upon-Avon

This is the only place in the town's High Street that can offer a tourist a sort-of Elizabethany, cod-historical environment. Old Stratfordians like myself remember the place in its original incarnation - slightly shabby, worn, threadbare carpets and scarred tables. This has changed to a smart, appealing interior, a counter at the entrance displaying cakes and pastries, with a refurbished tea room at the back. Access is a problem, though. If you are in a wheelchair, forget it. There are two steep steps up to the tea rooms at the back and the larger dining area is upstairs. I managed two steps with the sholley and oxygen but I did have Drew on hand in case of difficulties; and even if you can get in, the space is rather small downstairs.

Still, the place was clean, any historical features left uncluttered, unmarked by overly helpful signage to explain them as is the wont of these places sometimes. There are newspapers to read and a sofa as well as comfy high-backed chairs at the tables. I thought the lunch menu was rather limited. As if they had consolidated all their outstanding dishes into one manageable menu. The original fried-egg-on-toast appeal of the old replaced with the paninis and jacket potatoes of the new. There were only four options for a toasted panini so I settled for a jacket potato this time round. For £6.50 I got quite a large potato; not particularly fluffy on the inside. In fact, some of the interior required scything out with the knife. There were, at most about three tablespoons of beans, possibly less and only a sprinkling of cheddar on the top. The accompaniments were a small pot of coleslaw and a pinch of salad leaves - but who is bothered about that? In fairness, Drew sang the praises of his Mediterranean vegetable and goat's cheese filled potato. The filling certainly looked generous and he ate the lot. I was not allowed to have a taste.

The coffee is Lavazza, my latte a very acceptable £2.10 for a decent-sized regular. Nice and foamy, quite strong, left a frothy moustache. Drew always orders a black filter coffee and these invariably come with separate milk that he does not use. In this case, the accompanying milk portion was actually quite generous, a far cry from the not-quite-a-thimbleful that is usually issued.

If you are in town on your own then I would say do not bother. This is more for if you have visitors and you want to escape from the relentless array of bog-standard High Street shops and remind them that you live somewhere quite historical and touristy. They might get a vicarious thrill from the fact that it is Hathaways-if-not-actually-the-cottage and you get to make dreadful puns about how the place 'hath a way' with coffee.

Latte: *****
Access: *****

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