It’s touch-and-go whether the Boston Tea Party at Ringwood is the closest to my home, or whether that honour goes to the Salisbury branch. In many ways it’s a typical Boston Tea Party, having taken another iconic building (in this case, an old granary from the 1800s) and turned it into a first class coffee shop, providing good quality food, including an outstanding all-day breakfast menu, and Extract Coffee to the small Hampshire market town of Ringwood. Better still, it is literally just off the A31, so it makes an excellent stop if you are travelling that way.
Like many a branch of the Boston Tea Party, Ringwood has plenty of outside seating. However, with the exception of the original on Park Street and the Honiton branch (both of which have secluded gardens at the back) this may have the best, with multiple tables neatly arranged outside in the pedestrianised Furlong Centre. Inside, the Tea Party spreads over three floors, with the top floor (which used to be the hayloft) having only been opened last year (Ringwood itself opened in 2012). There’s the usual range of Boston Tea Party seating, including comfortable chairs, long sofa benches and more traditional tables.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
The Boston Tea Party is a chain with many handsome buildings, but even so, Ringwood’s up there with the best of them, its brick-built edifice reminiscent of the Birmingham branch. Arranged over three floors of an old granary, it’s the first Boston Tea Party with that particular honour (although you arguably Salisbury also has three floors). Each floors has its own character and while downstairs is a bit noisy, I’d be hard-pressed to pick a favourite from the other two.
An interesting feature is the light well connecting the ground and first floors, which forms a major feature on the first floor itself. You walk in directly under it, admiring a lovely chandelier constructed from fluorescent strip-lights. Of course, unlike the Worcester branch, which really does have a light well (and an aeroplane!), this is actually part of the granary’s loading bay, which enabled sacks of grain to be hauled between the floors (in this respect, it’s reminds me of Steampunk’s Warehouse in North Berwick).
On the ground floor, the counter’s to your left, with plenty of space to queue and wait for your coffee. On entering, there’s a four-person table immediately to the right, a chiller cabinet on the left. In the middle of the room, there’s a row of two-, four- and six-person tables, while against the back wall are three four-person tables. On the right, stairs lead up, a pair of armchairs flanking a coffee table on either side of the door.
Upstairs is much more relaxed. The first floor is arranged in a horseshoe-shape around the light well. Big, padded red sofa-benches line the left- and right-hand walls, each with four two-person tables, with more conventional tables next to the banisters overlooking the light well. There are also tables along the back wall, a couple more tucked in by the stairs and more tables in the middle with armchairs.
On the top floor, it’s more open-plan, with large padded sofa-benches along the left- and right-hand walls. In a departure from every other Boston Tea Party I’ve visited, these are blue, not red, which was rather disconcerting. There are plenty of conventional tables in the centre of the room, while more comfy chairs line the back wall. These are also not red, although, rather than being blue, they’re black… Stop it, Ringwood!
In common with several other branches (eg Exeter, Whiteladies Road), there’s artwork for sale on top floor. Throughout the décor is a mix of plain brick walls, occasional wooden cladding and wooden floorboards. It’s very bright, with windows front and back, plus lots of lights. The first floor, has a white, wooden-beamed ceiling, with iron cross-beams and support pillars, while the top floor’s open to the roof-beams.
I was there for lunch, and, coincidently, there was a new lunch menu. I looked it over, was very tempted, then had Eggs Florentine. Oh well, at least I looked… In another Boston Tea Party first, my coffee was brought to my table as well as my food (normally, only the food’s brought to your table; you need to collect your coffee). I had my usual flat white, although opted for decaf. It was lovely and smooth, with a great balance of milk and coffee. The milk also held its pattern all the way to the bottom. Impressive!
You can see what I made of all the other branches of the Boston Tea Party that I’ve visited.
|UNIT 15 • FURLONG CENTRE • RINGWOOD • BH24 1AT|
|www.bostonteaparty.co.uk||+44 (0) 1425 479045|
|Monday||08:00 – 18:00||Roaster||Extract (espresso + bulk-brew filter)|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 18:00||Seating||Tables, Comfy Chairs, Tables (outside)|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 18:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Cake|
|Thursday||08:00 – 18:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||08:00 – 18:00||Cards||Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||08:00 – 18:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||09:00 – 17:00||Power||Limited|
|Chain||Regional||Visits||28th April 2015|
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More and more Boston Tea Parties are now requiring you to claim a table before ordering, which is pretty unfriendly for people on their own – I can’t hold onto a table upstairs while going downstairs to order! It only really works if you have a coat or something to leave at the table or are choosing one within sight of the counter.
On the plus side it may help prevent the saddening sight of your breakfast going to someone else who ordered after you because the staff haven’t checked the number and are just shouting “eggs benedict!” to a full café. This happened to us in the garden at Park Street once and we were too far up to intervene before the beneficiary started eating 🙁
I agree with your sentiments. When you’re on your own, it can be a problem. Maybe you could take a “reserved” sign when you arrive and leave that on the table while you’re downstairs ordering.
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