Just as I remembered from visiting numerous such establishments in my childhood it was utterly unpretentious. I ordered at the counter and grabbed a table in the upstairs room that looked like it hadn't changed for 30 years. I could have had a “speciality tea” but that isn't part of the £4.95 Cornish Cream Tea deal so I went for a good old pot of standard English Breakfast style tea which was served in the kind of metal teapot I hadn't seen for a while. But I have to admit, much as I love a good brew – and this was a good solid cuppa - a cream tea is all about the accompanying food. As in the norm, up came two scones, a dish of strawberry jam and, the piece de resistance, a tub of clotted cream. For any foreign readers who may not be familiar with the concept of clotted cream, here is a description. Far from healthy I'm sure you'll agree, but trust me, an experience not to be missed.
So how was it? Well I have to admit the scones were a bit of a let-down. Having picked a bakery rather than the countless other establishments offering the same kind of deal I had hoped that they would be top notch. Sadly they were rather bready and lacking any crunchiness or fruit (as I've mentioned before I prefer a fruited scone). The jam was fine but certainly nothing special: it had that slightly disturbing bright red quality that I've never seen in the home-made variety. Thankfully the clotted cream was the reliable Rodda's brand and there was enough of it to mean that any shortcomings on the part of the scones and jam was almost made up for. I suppose part of my fussiness comes from the fact that, unlike last time I had a cream tea in Cornwall, I now regularly make scones at home and if I decide to turn their baking into an event I buy clotted cream and top quality jam to go with them. I suppose it's not surprising that an ordinary bakery in the heart of a tourist town didn't meet up to my exacting standards. I just had such high hopes!
I guess the moral of this story might have something to do with not sullying childhood memories by trying to relive them or maybe it's just to be a little more discerning when picking your spot for a cream tea in Cornwall. Either way, something boring and sensible. Nonetheless I really enjoyed my trip and I'd like to go back in the not too distant future so if anyone can recommend a spot where I can recreate my youthful cream tea bliss I'd be perfectly happy to base my future holiday plans around a fantastic bakery or cafe. And if that sounds extreme I don't care. One's first love should never be forgotten.