Review: Heatherslaw Tearoom on Ford and Etal Estates enjoying a new lease of life

My neighbour loves nothing more than foraging in antique shops – that and a nice cup of tea and chat.

Friday, 23rd July 2021, 3:13 pm
Cakes and patries at Boes.

She is also a great source of local information which is how we found ourselves, my daughter in tow, tootling northwards on the B6354 after browsing in a couple of shops near Wooler.

Flushed with success, having acquired a nest of tables for upscaling, and buoyed by the sunshine and scenic surroundings, we decided to stop for refreshment at Heatherslaw Mill.

My well-informed neighbour told us the tea room had been taken over in May and she’d heard good reports about its home-baking.

Boes at Heatherslaw.

Knowing the promise of cake is the best was to placate a 12-year-old traumatised by close contact with ‘old stuff’ (I hope she meant the furniture), we turned into the small car park beside the River Till.

From here, you can hop on the Heatherslaw Light Railway to nearby Etal or you can wander over the bridge to the former corn mill buildings which house a visitor centre, two shops and the new café; Boes.

We chose a table on the pretty riverbank and I went inside (up one floor) to order. At that time, there were no printed menus (covid precautions) but the blackboard outside showed the specials.

For me, it was worth nipping upstairs to ogle at the counter which was filled with impressive looking cakes, traybakes, scones, quiches, sausage rolls and salads.

Heatherslaw Mill.

However, the less spritely would be wise to take advantage of the very friendly staff, who were more than happy to talk about the dishes on offer – most of which they’d made themselves.

My neighbour chose the exotic sounding beetroot and coconut soup, my daughter the dry cured bacon panini and I went for the chicken and pesto ciabatta.

I was pleased to see that Boes served Pilgrim’s coffee, roasted on Holy Island, as well as their delicious gelato.

However, we opted for tea and were thrilled to finally have a proper pot with cup and saucer. It’s the small things that make a big difference.

But there was nothing small about my sandwich which was bursting with chunky chicken and a thick, pesto mayonnaise, made in-house, accompanied by a generous helping of green salad.

My discerning daughter was very pleased with her panini and crispy bacon but the star of the show was the shocking pink beetroot soup chosen by our guest.

It was silky smooth, light and fragrant, lifted with a hint of lemongrass. It was a perfect summer soup and ‘probably the best she’d ever tasted.’

As promised, my daughter selected a cake - the big Victoria sponge decorated with fresh strawberries – and did her best to eat it all with minimal assistance. I did grab a taste and it was beautifully light. Clearly, the rumours were true: Boes is a must for anyone with a sweet tooth.

As for the rest of that counter…well, we’re just going to have to sample that next time.

Ratings (out of 5)

Food – 5

Service – 5

Atmosphere – 4

Value – 5

Parking – 4

Overall – 4.5

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