Over the last year, I’ve been to several large branches of the Boston Tea Party (Whiteladies Road, Birmingham and Salisbury spring to mind), so it’s nice to visit a smaller one for a change. Not that the Honiton Tea Party is tiny; it’s not, for example, on the scale of the one in Bath, but at the same time, it’s not a sprawling, multi-floor affair.
Honiton’s Tea Party occupies a beautiful, old house on Honiton High Street (Monkton House, a Grade II listed building). As with every Tea Party, it’s instantly recognisable as a Boston Tea Party, while simultaneously its own place. There’s the usual Boston Tea Party offerings: good quality food, including an all-day breakfast menu, loads of cake, and coffee from Bristol’s Extract Coffee Roasters. This includes the house-blend espresso and single-origin bulk-brew filter.
There’s something about the smaller Tea Parties that promotes a sense of intimacy. It’s not that the staff at the larger branches aren’t friendly (far from it; the Boston Tea Party staff have always struck me as very friendly), it’s just that in the smaller ones, there seems to be more time to interact and chat and, in that respect, Honiton is no exception.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
The Boston Tea Party in Honiton was one of the first to open after Bristol’s venerable Park Street. It occupies the ground floor of Monkton House, which was built for the Vicar of Monkton (upstairs is currently flats, with the manager in another flat at the back in what was probably stables or servants’ quarters). Until the 1950s, Monkton House was a guest house and some of the original features, such as the manager’s office, opposite the counter, remain from that era. It was then an antiques shop/bookstore until the Tea Party took over in 2002.
Unsurprisingly, since it once was the Vicar’s residence, it feels like someone’s house. Occupying a basic square floor plan, with two rooms at the front and two more at the back, there are plenty of seating options. You enter through the old front door in the middle of the building. To your right, the counter, with a sumptuous-looking pair of sofas occupying the window and a small, two-person table squeezed in for good measure. To your left, up a very slight step, a large, open area, with a range of wooden tables.
Originally the front door would have opened into a hall, separating the two front rooms, but the dividing walls have long since been knocked down. Beyond the counter, however, the hall remains, continuing to the back of the house, doorways to left and right leading to two more rooms. At the end the back door leads to a long, sheltered garden. This, unsurprisingly, was empty in January, but come the warmer weather, I suspect it will be teeming.
The room on the left feels like an old drawing/sitting room, with an ornate fireplace, and bay window overlooking the garden at the back. There’s a variety of seating in here, such as a pair of armchairs, immediately in front of you as you enter, followed by a comfy-looking sofa with a coffee table. There are five four-person tables arrayed through the rest of the room, three at the back, around the bay window, and two in the middle, one of which is front of the (non-working) fireplace.
In contrast, the right-hand room feels like a scullery, with its tiled floor and plain fireplace. It extends beyond the back-line of the house, running partway down the side of the garden, with windows looking out onto it. There’s much simpler wooden tables and chairs in here, while the décor is also simpler. Both rooms are hung with works of art, which, in keeping with many of the Boston Tea Party branches, are for sale.
In comparison to the front, it’s much quieter at the back. The front, however, with all its windows, is flooded with natural light, while the back has plenty of light-fittings to complement its smaller windows.
Regular readers will be surprised to learn that I broke with tradition and, instead of having Eggs Florentine, I selected Kedgeree for lunch, which I first had at the Exeter Tea Party over two years ago. I’ve always found it a strange dish, spiced rice with haddock and a poached egg on top, but I have to admit that it’s very tasty and makes an excellent lunch. Having been adventurous with the food, I stuck with my usual flat white which was as smooth as ever.
You can also see what I made of all the other branches of the Boston Tea Party that I’ve visited.
|53 HIGH STREET • HONITON • DEVON • EX14 1PW|
|www.bostonteaparty.co.uk||+44 (0) 1404 548739|
|Monday||07:00 – 18:00||Roaster||Extract (espresso and bulk-brew)|
|Tuesday||07:00 – 18:00||Seating||Tables, Sofas, Tables (outside)|
|Wednesday||07:00 – 18:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Cake|
|Thursday||07:00 – 18:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||07:00 – 18:00||Cards||Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||07:00 – 18:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||08:00 – 17:00||Power||Yes|
|Chain||Regional||Visits||12th January 2015|
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