Friday, 19 April 2013

Review - Hawkwell House, Oxford

Location: Church Way, Oxford OX4 4DZ, UK
Food and Restaurant Reviews, Oxford. FoodieOnTour
Hawkwell House

As other mums will know, it can be somewhat frustrating being unable to drink during pregnancy. Catching up with the girls is never quite the same without a little drink or five - unless there is cake... and plenty of it! I'd never dabbled in afternoon tea until I was pregnant you see, but it is a world I'm pleased to have discovered. There is nothing more ladylike than sipping on Earl Grey while nibbling on a variety of dainty nibbles. Well... that is if you tune out the smutty talk and cackling!

'In the club' again, with MiniF #2, afternoon tea was back on the agenda. Having tried a few venues before, I wanted to see what else Oxford had to offer. Doing a bit of research, I found Hawkwell House, in Iffley Village, were advertising an afternoon tea menu on their website for £11.50pp. I'd been there once before for a work party and a couple of times for lunch and had been impressed with the setting (less so with the décor and inattentive customer service, but the afternoon tea menu read well).

Food and Restaurant Reviews, Oxford. FoodieOnTour

Having arrived early to take a few pics, I was seated in the lounge to await my companion (CM). Nicely furnished, with comfy sofas, big cushions, a burning fire and pretty chandelier, this seemed like a pleasant place to enjoy some tea and cake. A few minutes later, the lovely CM arrived, directed straight to me by someone at reception - all very helpful, but a little odd... No word of being shown to our seats, or if we'd be eating in the lounge, or even if our tea was on its way. Off I trotted to reception to clarify.

Kindly allowing me to interrupt her chat with another staff member, the receptionist offered to call someone to assist me - moments later a gentleman arrived to show us to our seats. Now this was the funny part... Having left the enjoyable setting of the lounge (log fire, chandelier, comfy seats, etc, etc), we were shown to a group of faux leather tub chairs by a near-empty bar, right next to... the toilets! What? Now, I'm pretty sure it's not just me, but that's quite the downgrade. Not wanting to sniff in the aroma of cubicle toilets to accompany my cake, I asked if we could possibly go back to the lounge. Offered a choice of the Lounge and the less comfortable (and less stylish) looking Terrace Dining Room, we opted to return to the Lounge.

Food and Restaurant Reviews, Oxford. FoodieOnTour
Bar Area (toilets were directly to the left)

Food and Restaurant Reviews, Oxford. FoodieOnTour
Terrace Dining Room

Resettled and awaiting our refreshments, we got down to catching up. Thankfully, we didn't have too long to wait before our spread of goodies arrived. First impressions were positive, the food looked plentiful, the scones proud and fresh, however CM was disappointed to see tea bags rather than leaves, and I was disappointed to see big muffins and brownie slices rather than dainty cakes. Oh well. Cracking on we tucked into the 'finger' sandwiches (more sausage-sized than finger), the traditional ones were there - egg mayonnaise, cucumber, and smoked salmon.

Food and Restaurant Reviews, Oxford. FoodieOnTour
Afternoon Tea

Moving onto the scones - warm, fresh and delicious, we managed to get through about three of these between us. CM requested some raspberry jam for hers - lucky she did as the two tiny pots of strawberry jam would not have been enough.

Now, I must add, by this point, we had already been asked if we had finished bout twice - we must have been asked at least three or four times before we were actually ready to call it a day. The staff appeared keen to shoo along their seemingly only diners, as quick as they could... one member of staff even began clearing items away that I was still using. Upon gentle mention of the 'eagerness', the answer seemed to be that the waiter was clocking off in five. Nice.

Finally the cakes. Well, I never got round to trying the muffin - it was huge and far too daunting after such large scones and 'finger' sandwiches (I wrapped mine in a napkin and popped in my handbag for later). I did however try the brownie slice, it was pleasant - not much more to say really.

Overall, the food was OK, just in need of refinement. The amateurish service and inconsistent décor is what ultimately let Hawkwell House down. I feel Hawkwell could do so much better for itself, with the pretty location, ample parking, beautiful lawn, attractive building - bring a little more class to what goes on inside the shell and they could achieve so much more. What a shame.

Overall score: 5/10

Hawkwell House Hotel
Church Way
Iffley Village
Facebook: @HawkwellHouseHotel
Twitter: @HawkwellHouse
Phone: 01864 749988

Hawkwell House on Urbanspoon


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