I love a good Afternoon Tea - note that I am using Afternoon Tea NOT High Tea. High Tea comes with a meal and usually takes place between 5pm and 6pm.
Finger sandwiches, little desserts and tea (or coffee) in a pretty place makes for a great afternoon treat to catch up with a friend. Thank you Anna, 7th Duchess of Bedford, for starting the trend.
I love Fernie Castle.
Although I have never been there before, I have viewed their website on quite a few occasions (when I was looking for wedding venues) as I love the idea of their Treehouse Suite. It just sounds like such a magical place where there will be fairies all around...and it's a castle!
So imagine my delight when my good friend Genna at Blethering Boys and her family gifted me with an Itison voucher to have Afternoon Tea at Fernie Castle! The little girl inside me was squealing with joy and already looking for her tiara as I realised what I was being treated to.
Date Visited: 4th July 2014
Fernie Castle is situated just off the A92, between Dundee and Glenrothes. As you turn off the main road and in to the small and somewhat bumpy lane leading up to the castle you are surrounded by large fir trees making you feel like you are being led away from the busy road and in to another world. As you reach the car park you see the beautiful castle and the very handsome stag statue in the near distance, there are also a couple of highland cows in the field behind the car park.
We entered in to the reception and it felt eerily quiet as there was not a soul in sight so we waited until someone came through and greeted us. Thankfully we didn't have to wait long for that to happen and as they were still getting our table ready for us we sat on the gorgeous large sofa and flicked through their wedding albums that were laid out on the table at reception.
A lovely waitress led us in to the 2nd most elegant dining room I have ever been in (1st place belongs to Andrew Fairlie @ Gleneagles), with an elaborate Georgian chandelier hanging from the ceiling and pristine white table linen.
The Carrot and Coriander soup, that was served with the 3 tiered afternoon tea, had a good sweetness to it and the coriander was not overpowering but Max, the friend I had asked to join me for the afternoon, added salt to her soup as did many others around me so it may be that the soup needed a touch more seasoning.
The Tiered cake stand
On the Bottom tier: the finger sandwiches selection was egg, smoked salmon and brie with pickle/onion marmalade. Good flavours from the fillings but not sure about tasting more butter than egg in the egg sandwich.
Middle tier: Scones. There was a selection of fruit or plain scones with butter, fresh cream and jams on the side. The scones were nothing to rave about but at least they weren't rock hard and what was missing was just a dollop of rich, smooth, creamy clotted cream.
Top tier: Chocolate and pistachio macarons, red velvet cupcake, carrot cupcake, chocolate éclair, and pineapple and coconut tray-bake sponge (I think). All the cakes were not too bad, the éclair is usually one of my favourites but this one didn't have enough cream inside so it was quite dry and I'm not a fan of sprinkles either. A little strange that they used pink and blue kiddies looking cupcake cases to line some of their cakes, after all we were in a posh dining room in a castle! If they had used plain white cases or just one large doily to line the tier plate then I probably wouldn't have noticed it so much. The sprinkles on the cakes and éclairs had me thinking if they had just stuck a child in their kitchen and just said "go!"
Another thing that had us thinking they let a child loose in the castle was the toilets. Both myself and Max had one word to describe it.
"Weird". It really was quite surreal.
As you leave the elegant dining room, you go down the grand corridor with old paintings on the walls and outside a window, to your left, is a lovely walled mini garden with a statue in it. You then go through the doors and is welcomed in to toilets that have been wallpapered with what looks like leftover paper from a little girl's bedroom. With heart shaped mirrors and a heart shaped shelf, the sink area has pebble effect splash-back (that didn't quite match the wallpaper) and a very old hand dryer that was probably installed in the early 90's. I didn't mind the old dryer as there was hand towels on the shelf which I think everyone opted for but the bin for the paper was so small it was overflowing. The toilets seem clean enough although I was surprised to see that there was no holder for the toilet roll.
I know this may seem like I'm picking out tiny things but this is all based on my own experience of the place, for me the small things matter and are all part of that experience.
Overall the food tasted lovely, the ambiance in the dining room was very elegant, the staff were efficient and lovely to talk to, the castle grounds look just magical but it was slightly let down by the restroom that had more of a pub feel to it than a gorgeous hotel/castle. I still enjoyed my time there and had a nice catch up with a friend.
We were even given a cute gingerbread castle to take away with us which was a lovely souvenir and I think M will be more than happy to devour it!
Fingers crossed I might be able to book a night in the Treehouse suite some time but I think I may need to save up for a while as the price is a little out of my budget.