23rd January 2017 Angela Hughes

High Tea at Pythouse

Having lived in Shaftesbury for over four years now, only recently I had learned of Pythouse Kitchen Garden. As is usually the way, I discovered it late. It’s possibly one of my favourite places to have tea, and I’ve visited it at least five times in the last two months alone. Each time taking someone new to experience what I seriously believe to be one of the most beautiful views in England. And they serve good tea.

There is always a reason to enjoy a cup of tea, especially if it means it would be most likely the last time our dear enceinte friend Emily (of Emily Jolie Botanical/magic dust fame) would be able to grace us with her presence properly.

Me and a friend (Emma at Modernmamahood), decided to throw her a spontaneous (as spontaneous as you can get with two boys each!) baby shower to celebrate the imminent arrival. We managed to organise the whole thing in around two weeks which by party planning standards in basically 24 hours notice. Not that we minded, in fact we relished the thought of a good get-together and it was scary how easily the ideas for venues and food came forward.

Emily had recently been to PKG with her own family and had fallen in love with it, even telling us about it herself (how easy Emily had made it for us). We had agreed to all take ourselves there at some point, so why not a special event like this?

We contacted PKG and enquired about their high tea options, and they quickly replied saying that they could provide a high tea with sandwiches and cake. Gluten free was also catered for (for which I was grateful), and they were happy to have us.

What luck. More luck came when Emma had said she would love to bake cookies and provide a cake on top of that (Emma had been promising me her cookies for a long time…), and we had a plan in motion.

On the day, we arrived about a half hour before the shower began to prep and prime the place. We didn’t need to, it turned out because the team at PKG had put together a beautiful table for us. Laden with delicate crockery, dotted with lovely linens and set in a most beautiful Orangery.

So we went about dotting the beautifully set table with Emma’s baby blue cookies that read ‘Emily’s Baby Shower’ and planting the boldly baked three layer naked cake that Emma had created for this occasion. Blues, golds and grained wood set the aesthetic.

The team at Pythouse were very on the ball, and very welcoming to us as a group. Once Emily had made her entrance (to excited squeals of delight) we sat down to tea. Is it more posh if I say high tea? It felt like being worshipped with food and drink.

We were served with our teas of choice (Earl Grey and lemon for me) in delicate china, it was wonderfully appropriate for the setting and event. They serve many types of tea, for every fancy, and have a wide range of cakes (gluten free also) available for everyone.

Platters were (stunning cross sections of wood) filled with bites of sandwich, savoury scone, veggie crisps (PKG’s own) and greenery alongside. I was served a whole plate myself filled with gluten free sandwiches and nibbles, and this was not the usual gluten-free food usually served just anywhere. It was well thought out and well plated, too pretty to eat….or not…

The bread was not dry, as the case can sometimes be with gluten free. The fillings were tasty, meats and salad were well seasoned. All in all the platters were so filled we 8 had a hard job of finishing them, we had been saving ourselves for the cake….. obviously.

Some people say we have two stomachs, one for cake and one for everything else. At least that’s my saying.

They arrived beautifully laid out, interspersed with caramelised physalis and dotted with swirls of dark chocolate.

Again I was served a delicate dish, loaded (and I do mean loaded) with gluten free sweets. The sticky toffee cake was light and heavy at the same time. The moist syrupy top, almost cloying, but just shy of being too rich.

The vanilla pannacotta with rum and raisin syrup was the stuff of dreams, I rave about it still. Silky, full of flavour and pretty much heaven in the teacup in which it was served. The chantilly whipped cream and caramelised physalis brought the dish to another level, the whole experience was pretty much how myself and Emma had envisioned it. A damn good way to bring Emily into the next chapter of her life, and we think she enjoyed it! She ended up taking the cake home to freeze, and brought it out to eat when baby Benjamin was born exactly a week later, talk about close calls!

Our baby shower was made much easier to hold by the fact the PKG were very accommodating, and I’ve been back since a fair few times to try the other delights the gardens hold!

Pythouse Kitchen Garden offers several types of experience depending on what you require, they serve a wide range of teas and coffees and offer cakes and sweets from the counter.

If you’re after something a bit more intimate they also provide a great setting for dinner and drink, currently they host ‘Pyt-Fires’ (BBQ) for their customers. These nights range from £35 for several courses and a drink to give you that bit extra, they also offer non-alcoholic drinks for you designated drivers. No one loses.

You can find out more about Pythouse Kitchen Garden here

Emily runs her scent-sational (sorry) business here

You can follow Emma (along with her beautiful family and bold bakes) here