Friday, 7 September 2012

Cottage Restaurant and Tea Garden, Anne Hathaway's Cottage, Stratford-upon-Avon

This is the establishment opposite the Cottage in the Rose Garden and next to a stream where, on one memorable bus tour many years ago a young and carefree future blogger informed the guide that, no, that wasn't what Shakespeare had in mind as the setting for Ophelia's death scene even if a willow does grow aslant that particular brook. Ah! Youthful brio, reckless self-confidence and eternal sunshine dappling the bonny face with visible cheekbones.

Thus also, presumably, was the future Mrs Shakespeare enticed by the charms of a local glover's son. The theme surrounding the cottage is always slanted toward the love affair and a hell of a lot of effort is put into the cottage and its surroundings in creating an atmosphere conducive to the secret tryst, and as a destination for 'courting'. The Tea Gardens are no exception to this, sheltered in what looks like a large gazebo and surrounded by greenery that included a rose garden, bowers with benches  and tall, overhanging trees.

The menu is small - sandwiches, toasties, cakes and pastries. I opted for a ham and cheese toasted baguette. It has to be said, it was nothing exceptional, apart from the accompanying salad which, as Drew pointed out, shows a little more imagination having not only peppers but a lemony rice making it a more substantial side dish than the usual two-leaves-and-half-a-tomato; but this is another place where the surroundings are more important that the menu. Which really does not excuse the ubiquitous B & Q white plastic garden furniture used outside, the really cheap and nasty stuff that you are always seeing people fall off on episodes of You've Been Framed.

It is best to go here in the autumn - the substantial summer crowds have died down and the full-on prettiness is mellowed a little. It is an area conducive to reflection, being quiet and, unless there is a family, the conversations are generally kept to quite a low hum. There is a superb view of the cottage and the passing tour buses. Like Mrs Shakespeare, you can think about how you now live in a nice house in the town; and wish that he were home from work.

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

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