Hillwood cafe: Stunning location, disappointing tea

What could be a better finale to a wonderful afternoon of visiting this marvelous museum and gardens than having a traditional afternoon tea?  We made reservations as soon as we arrived to guarantee our place. Tea is served from 2:30 to 3:30pm. After 2:30pm,  lunch is no longer served.

The Café is in the grounds at the Hillwood estate, in a separate building. The decor is quite upscale, with artificially formed wooden chairs and sparkling white table cloths. We were expected and we were offered the option of dining outside or inside  where a table was reserved for us. We chose inside as there was still a bit of a chill in the air.

We had planned this tea from the moment we got our reservations to visit Hillwood and I wish I could honestly say that it lived up to our expectations but I am afraid I have to say it was a bit of a let down. Tea is served at a set price for a set menu. Little tea sandwiches, which were alright but nothing special, a scone which was quite good and I can’t believe I am even saying this, two cookies from a box as the sweet. What are they thinking? The sandwiches included a shrimp salad which was quite acceptable and a chicken salad. What saved the whole meal from total mediocrity was the piece of brie and the smoked salmon that was included. The scone was also served with clotted cream which we love.

For our $12 a head we also each had a pot of tea of our choice, we all chose English Breakfast. I just have never had a tea served all on one plate and frankly I am not impressed with that format. At the very least I always get a three tiered tray. 

Service was efficient but not friendly and having done it once, I would not do it again. I can’t really comment on the quality of the food served at lunch because I neither saw it or nor ate it. The offerings sound quite good  including French onion soup, a Provencal tart and several salads and sandwiches.  Hillwood is out of the way and if you are coming to view the property, there is no other option for lunch or a snack on the premise. I hope perhaps that having read this,  the staff will make an effort to improve the quality of the offerings.