Back in June my friend Steph contacted me and asked me if I wanted to attend afternoon tea with her. “Of course”, said I, rarely turning down a request to go out. Especially if that invite includes tea and cake! Further conversation revealed that not only was it afternoon tea, but it was part of the underground tearoom/cafe phenomenon currently sweeping the country. I will admit to being completely ignorant to the movement and, even after Steph’s explanation, I presumed that we were going to be dining in a closed cafe/coffee shop…kind of like a lock in. How wrong could I be?!
But, first of all, Lindley! What a pretty place it is! Even in the dreary, cold and damp weather of today, it felt welcoming and warm. It wasn’t really the best day to be visiting given that Rudolph and his friends were due to be trotting down the high street, and every child in West Yorkshire seemed to appear on the pavements lining the road to greet them. We had a cursory walk up and down the high street, and I was delighted to find a cake decorating and sugarcraft shop. There were so many lovely little businesses of varying descriptions, all appeared to be doing a fine weekend trade and no doubt supported by the locals and beyond. But we weren’t there to shop…
Before I knew it we had reached the end of the row of shops and Steph was leading me through an unassuming gate and through the front door of a house. “Shouldn’t we knock?” I thought, but apparently not! Underground tearoom organisers simply like you to walk in and make your way through to the dining room. I was greeted with a happy hubbub of conversation, and a table full of delicious looking savouries! There were eight guests in total, most of us were newbies which made me feel a little better. We were all seated around one large table which encouraged us to engage with each other, something which we had no trouble doing…when we weren’t indulging in all the lovely treats, that is!
And how lovely they were! In keeping with the ‘nuts’ theme we had a selection of sandwiches including mature cheddar on walnut bread, poached salmon with red pesto, and chicken and waldorf salad; leek, goat’s cheese and walnut tart; a selection of cakes including hazelnut macarons, pecan tart, and coffee and walnut cake; fruit scones and mini nut scones served with clotted cream and strawberry jam. All of these were washed down with a selection of loose leaf teas and coffee. All food and drink was served in, or on, gorgeous, mismatched stands and pieces of crockery.
Marie Claire was the perfect host – happily joining in the conversation with all of her guests, in between deftly tending to our every need, and always made sure our teacups were full up, as well as our tummies. She instantly made people feel at ease and it was lovely to see her husband and two kitty cats occasionally wander through the room occasionally.
All in all I don’t have one bad word to say about the experience. I thought that I might feel a little awkward walking into a stranger’s house to eat food that they’d spent hours pouring over. But, actually, it was quite the opposite. Eating 100% homemade food served happily by Marie Claire in her lovely home made me feel, well…quite at home. So at home, in fact, that I almost completely let go and went to undo the top button of my jeans because I was THAT stuffed. I didn’t…that would have been a step too far for all the poor, unsuspecting people in the room!
If you’re ever in Huddersfield, look up Cafe Nouveau at Home and see if you’re able to grab a spot at the next underground afternoon tea.