Mr Miles Tearooms, 3-4 High Street, Taunton, Somerset – What a ‘gem’ of a find!
I must say, following my scone munching, tea tasting visit I decided to showcase my review via my shiny new website, and, to be part of the gaiety on British National Tea Day – so here it is!
Darlings, many moons ago I stumbled across this rather enchanting, traditional, tea and coffee parlour which oozes the timeless flavour of a bygone era – a honey-pot for ‘ladies who lunch’, afternoon tea for tourists, cream tea for the locals, or just a mere cup of Miles Smugglers Gold Tea will do for the poor commoner – a menu to suit ALL patrons!
This adorable establishment is the ‘brainchild’ of Mr Colin Barrell, who for seventeen years previously ran a McDonald's franchise - My word, what a stark contrast to the consumption of tea and scones! And strangely enough, one day whilst enjoying a brew in Betty’s of Harrogate enthused to his wife, “This would work well in Taunton” – and there you have it, an idea was ‘born’!
Also, when I quizzed Mr Barrell, who beautifully mirrored my well-received and ever so slight hint of a West-Country accent, about his experience running a tearoom in comparison to McDonald's – with a cracked smile he remarked, “I feel a bit like a swan - nice and relaxed above water; but paddling like hell below!” – I’m sure his darling wife would certainly agree!
So, “How did Mr Barrell’s idea achieve fruition?”, I hear you utter! Well, I’m sure you’ll find his story rather riveting - just like moi! You see, once upon a time Mr Colin Barrell attended an event and became quite friendly with the tea lady – Oh, I say! And by a sheer stroke of serendipity, she just so happened to serve Miles tea – Mr Barrell’s ultimate favourite. Thus, following such revelation, he excitedly impressed upon the lady his tearoom idea, who then urged Mr Barrell to contact the managing director – and so he did!
Miles Tea of Porlock, Somerset, merchants of the finest tea and coffee from the West-Country, was established in 1888 and was previously known as Henry Miles & Co. Then in 1971, Mr D J Miles purchased the business from his grandfather, whom since then, and now at the ripe and ravishing age of 86 years old is still tea tasting and buying three days per week – How spiffing!
I say the wonderful thing is, when Mr Barrell put forward his tearoom idea to the board of Miles tea, he was told with much enthusiasm, “We have been toying with the idea for years, and we need a shop window to sell our tea!” Of course, Mr Barrell was the right man for the job, thus entered into a partnership with this highly acclaimed brand and opened up a tearoom in Taunton.
Now darlings, one thing I've learned of late, after many years of residing in London I’ve certainly remained a West-Country lass at heart – Phew! But as I turn back the clock to my blooming childhood days, it’s clearly evident that Mother failed in her duties to introduce my palate to tea of the ‘indigenous’ kind – to save confusion, Miss Windsor means the type one would sip from a bone china cup and saucer; not that of a British cooked evening meal!
However, when I discovered that Mr Barrell had been drinking one of his favourite beverages - Miles West-Country Original Blend Tea - since he was a ‘nipper’, which was due to a generous ‘perk’ of his Mother’s employment at the local deli in Minehead, Somerset. He proclaimed to Miss Windsor, “I’ve been drinking it since I was a boy, you can’t replace the taste with anything else!” – Hear, hear!
Darlings, Mr Miles Tearooms resides in the old Laura Ashley building and received a complete make-over before it reopened its doors to hospitality on the 24th February 2010. I say, the tasteful décor certainly surpassed Miss Windsor’s high standards - ‘hats off’ to Julianne – interior designer and good friend of the Barrell’s – because of her beady eye for detail and exceptional use of colour.
Dressed head to toe in Oval Room Blue by Farrow & Ball, and Duck Egg by Laura Ashley. Oh such warm and relaxing colours beautifully complements the seating area - adorned with wicker tables and chairs by Lloyd Loom of Spalding – stained a pleasant shade of green! I dare say, the last time I experienced Lloyd Loom was my grandmother Josie’s vintage, gold, and floral bedroom set – sporting an ottoman and matching chair – Oh, what a wonderful memory of Grandmother Josie’s most ‘flash’ abode!
Also, similar to my grandmother’s pantry, which was always bursting at the seams with tins, packets, and jars – mostly out of date may I add! I note, that the lower floor of the tearooms, including the window displays was packed to the rafters with the very best of West-Country fayre - Miles finest tea, coffee, drinking chocolate and chocolate by the bar / Brendon Hill Crafts jams / and The Bee Keeping Ladies Somerset Honey.
I also spied a vibrant assemblage of tea cosies, Dunoon mugs, plus Emma Bridgewater ceramics and Royal Worcester bone china – I say, a fine mix of classic style and modern design. In fact, Mr Barrell is the local agent for the latter - makers of luxury crockery and tea paraphernalia – Oh, jolly good!
Darlings, before I pop off I wish to ‘tickle your fancy’ – Oh, I say! with details of my frightfully fabulous cream tea experience. Of course, my tea of choice was Miles West-Country Original Blend - and when seasoned with milk gleamed a resplendent tone of tawny and bronze! An exquisite fusion of fourteen Assam and African teas – made with a pure dose of West-Country LOVE! Oh yes, one sip of this ‘magic potion’ and my taste buds roared with sheer utter delight, as they were greeted by a rather mellow, malty, and vibrant flavour - Miss Windsor the connoisseur of tea!
Following such elation, I couldn’t wait to sink my ‘gnashers' into those devilishly seduction scones’, which are baked in-house every day by – Mrs Kate Jenkins! They were temptingly mouth-watering, ‘dove feather’ soft, with textured rippled layers of perfectly baked dough. Bedecked with succulent raisins and sultanas, and enhanced by a familiar, yet comforting aftertaste of ‘shortbread’ - which I found quite extraordinary, and must be due to the rich and creamy nature of West-Country butter!
I then slathered each scone with a velvety coat of clotted cream – lovingly sourced from Longman’s Dairy, and topped with an incredibly sexy, deep scarlet, glossy layer of Brendon Hill Crafts strawberry jam, bestrewn with large chunks of fruit – a match made in heaven!
Now darlings, before I scurry off, I must say - the beauty of this establishment, hub of the High Street, is that its open seven days a week. So one may pop in anytime and ‘fill one’s boots’ with a plethora of goodies, whether it’s a box of Miles tea, a packet of Miles coffee – Nicaraguan Maragogype (freshly roasted on site) or a special tea cosie for that lucky recipient!
I do hope you enjoyed my review of Mr Miles Tearooms Next stop – Betty’s of Harrogate!
Cheerio for now,