The Best Tearoom in Scotland

I was interviewed by a local newspaper yesterday about my “Tearoom Delights” book and one of the questions I was asked was ‘What is your favourite tearoom?’

Although I found this an extremely difficult question to answer, one particular tearoom popped straight into my head. It wasn’t, however, a local tearoom, so I gave her my second favourite instead.

I’ve written about my favourite tearoom before but I when I visited recently there was a new sign in the window:

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The sign reads: “Awarded Best Tearoom in Dumfries and Galloway 2012″

My first thought when I saw this was, ‘indeed, but why limit the area to Dumfries and Galloway?’ If I had my way I’d scrub out the “Dumfries and Galloway” bit and put “Scotland”.

My pictures might encourage you or put you off depending on your tastes, but what they can’t properly convey is the wonderful atmosphere this tearoom has, and the delightfulness of the staff, not to mention the magnificence of the food and drink.

Without further ado, this is the place I’m raving about, Kitty’s Tearoom in New Galloway:

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The last time I did a post about Kitty’s I mentioned that the proprietress was about to hang up her apron and retire after a long and very worthwhile career running this marvellous tearoom. I believe the tearoom is still up for sale, and my hope is that a suitable person will buy it and continue to run it to the same high standards (one wonders if this is possible).

Thankfully, when the delightful assistants and I visited last week, everything was still as normal: tip top and tickety boo.

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The polished wood inside Kitty’s came from an old ship at nearby Palnackie Harbour and has been very nicely incorporated into the building.

En route to Kitty’s I had been dreaming about the Fat Naan, a naan bread stuffed with curried vegetables, but when we arrived for lunch I discovered that one of the daily specials was asparagus quiche, which was extremely tempting. I’ve had Kitty’s quiche before and it was truly outstanding, but on this occasion I was all geared up for the Fat Naan, so Fat Naan it was:

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Vegetable Fat Naan

Delightful assistant no.1 went for a salad, which you might think would be a light option, but it fairly filled her up. I wasn’t surprised after seeing the size of it:

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Delightful assistant no.2 succumbed to the quiche, which I was pleased about as it meant I got to try a little. It was every bit as good as I’d imagined it’d be. If only I’d had room for two lunches.

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Drinkswise, the assistants had water and lemonade, and I had rose petal tea, which was pleasantly fragrant and served in a magnificently decorative silver teapot:

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With a beautiful hand painted teacup and saucer:

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Going to Kitty’s and not having a cake is akin to visiting Edinburgh city centre and failing to notice the castle. However, we were so full of our main courses that we needed a little stroll first, so we mentioned to the staff that this was our plan and off we tootled for a bit of exercise.

Delightful assistant no.2 was more in favour of snoozing off his first course, so delightful assistant no.1 and I left him in the car while we walked along a very quiet little road. The weather was murky with some light rain but fine for walking.

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Revived and ready for course no.2, we scooted back to Kitty’s and settled down to consider the cakes.

After considerable deliberation we made our choices. Delightful assistant no.1 went for a special of the day: Scarlett’s secret, a splendid concoction of strawberries and cream:

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Scarlett’s Secret – more of a mousse than a cake: very fruity and very creamy. This cake would have been ideal for the toothless consumer; once the confection was in the mouth nature did the rest, the thing positively melted and disappeared with no effort whatsoever.

Delightful assistant no.2 opted for Vicar’s Vice, a Victoria sponge very generously filled with whipped cream (that, I imagine, may have been what swayed it for him):

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Vicar’s Vice – an excellent choice for the clergyman and layperson alike

These two cakes were not the only temptations, there was a whole cabinet full of them, and deciding what to have wasn’t easy. I chose what could be considered an unadventurous option, but there was nothing dowdy about it – a plain scone with jam and cream:

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A scone with jam and cream – simple but superb.

Our sweet treats were washed down with leaf tea, Ceylon for delightful assistant no.2 and English Breakfast for delightful assistant no.1 and me. The English Breakfast came in a large and beautifully bulgous* silver teapot:

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The cream and jam were plentiful enough for me to ladle them on generously:

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In fact, both were so abundant that I felt compelled to layer them:

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Which led to the consumption or rather a lot of good strong tea:

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While we were sitting there in Kitty’s lovely tearoom, I made a remark about how I felt. Just before I left I thought it might be nice to put the comment into their visitors’ book. I may not have it verbatim but it was along the lines of “Every time I come here it feels like one of the best days of my life”. Quite true.

*a perfectly good word that ought to be in the dictionary as a hybrid of bulging and bulbous

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Categories: Afternoon tea, Cake, Dumfries and Galloway, Holidays, Leaf tea, Photography, Scone, Scotland, Teapot, Tearooms | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 42 Comments

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42 thoughts on “The Best Tearoom in Scotland

  1. what a charming blog – how can I not follow you. I do now, thanks. Carina :)

  2. That does look like a seriously good tea shop Lorna. I think on balance I side with Delightful Assistant Number 2 who favours sleeping off a good lunch before treating himself to afternoon tea. I’ve been known to do the same myself!

    • There is definitely something to be said for an afternoon snooze and then waking up for tea and cakes. It’s a very civilised way to behave.

  3. This teashop sounds amazing. I love the meal and dessert choices all of you made. I would have an awful time chosing I know. I can se why it is your favourite. I also enjoyed your new word and I believe it should be in the dictionary.

    • Everything on offer is so tempting, that’s the problem. They do a truly amazing sticky toffee pudding too, the decision making can be tortuous. I’m delighted to have your support over ‘bulgous’, thank you. :-)

  4. I remember Fat Naan so I must have read your Kitty’s post, Lorna. That quiche does look good though. Hope it finds a suitable proprietor. :)

    • What a memory! I find it unforgettable, but then I’ve actually eaten it and you don’t have that advantage, very impressive. I suspect those quiches are made with quite a large quantity of double cream, absolutely superb. I hope someone else can take over and do it justice, perhaps the recipes come with the building, I wonder…

  5. maybe it sounds like a silly question, but how many tearooms are there in Scotland? It looks like a sort of tradition to go to the tearoom, isn’t it?

    • Not at all a silly question, an excellent one! I only wish I could answer it because I’ve wondered the same myself. It is indeed a tradition to visit tearooms and it all began in London I believe, with Twinings who opened the very first one in 1706. There’s an interesting Wikipedia article about tearooms (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tearoom_(U.K._and_U.S.) and it’s not too long, if you fancy a peep. All I can say about the number of tearooms in Scotland is that there must be hundreds. The difficulty in counting them might be trying to decide what is and isn’t a tearoom. To my mind, many establishments calling themselves coffee houses or cafes could also be described as tearooms, but there is something sort of old-fashioned and refined about a tearoom as opposed to a cafe. The Wikipedia article sums it up well.

  6. Scarlett’s secret looks like something it would be nice to know the secret of making. I’m intrigued by the top layer. The only ways I can think of achieving it would wreck the bottom layer in the process. Clearly I’d like to achieve it, because a plate of something like that could make me very happy :)

    • It would be wonderful to have the recipe for Scarlett’s Secret, and indeed all the other delights available at Kitty’s. If there was a recipe book I’d certainly buy it. The top layer of the Secret was surprising. It looks sort of jelly like but on eating the cake, the layers all merged and melted in the mouth. I have no idea how they got it to sit on top of the moussey bit which was very light and airy.

  7. This tea room sounds fabulous…your scone layering techniques deserves an honorable mention :-) Nice job…

  8. Congratulations on being interviewed by the paper. Hope it sells you lots of books!

    I wish there was just one tea shop near me like just an average tea shop in Scotland…

    • Thanks Marian, it’ll be interesting to see if the newspaper article leads to any sales. I’m so sorry that you don’t have a nice tea shop near you, but from what I read the States is definitely getting more into tearooms these days. Perhaps it’s happening more in certain states than others, but hopefully Texas will get in on the act before too long.

  9. That sounds like a really good way to promote your book (and the blog!) Has the article already been published? Congratulations, anyway!
    I love the way that Kitty’s Tearoom serves tea – in the proper way, with lovely tea pots and china. The food looks delectable, especially the lunches – and I am in awe of your layering ability with cream and jam! No way could I do that! I do hope they find a new owner for the place and that it continues with its high standards. Thinking about the question the newspaper asked you, I wonder if you have ever considered creating something like an online guide (like a magazine-type blog) of tearooms in Scotland, with features, news, events and your own awards! This way you could keep it current and up to date and it might easily become a resource for people to consult when travelling.
    PS Love the word ‘bulgous’. It could be used to describe no end of things!

    • Thanks, Jo, the article will be in the Perthshire Advertiser which is a twice weekly publication, and possibly the Blairgowrie Advertiser as well, which I think comes out once a week, so I imagine it might be in next week’s editions. It might be in their online papers too, I don’t know but I’ll have a look next week.

      As you say, Kitty’s serves tea in the perfect manner, with lots of lovely china (which I believe the owner bought up from second hand shops, etc. when she started out). When you go into the tearoom each table is covered with tablecloths (two on each table as far as I recall), and set with beautiful china just waiting for you to order some tea – utterly delightful and very welcoming.

      You always come up with brilliant ideas! :-) As it happens, while I was on holiday I began to think about the idea of starting a newspaper. Not quite what you were suggesting perhaps, but including some of the same sort of information. I’d quite like to make it a paper copy, because it’d be the sort of thing I might like to read over breakfast, but online makes more sense I suppose. It wouldn’t be solely about tearooms, although they would play a major role in it. I envisage it having competitions, interviews, a letters page, book reviews, biscuit reviews, etc. It would be a lot of work though, and I don’t know how I’d make any money out of it.

      • Fantastic idea – I do hope that you can find a way of making it work. If you could sell advertising (always a necessity to make things pay, even if you don’t really want it) it might make it more feasible. Just recently I have been thinking of ways to take The Hazel Tree a step further and I guess I’m tackling the same issues. I would like to spend more time writing for it, but I can’t afford to do so. But what you focus on, is what you get (so they say). Food for thought!

        • I think you’re absolutely right, advertising is the way to make money out of these things. I signed up to Amazon’s affiliate programme with that thought in mind but I haven’t been able to bring myself to add advertising to my blogs in case it puts people off. I know I sometimes get annoyed by adverts on websites, although admittedly I usually managed to ignore them. It’s hard to imagine how the advertisers actually get clients from it, but they must do. Tricky, as you say. I hope you find a solution for The Hazel Tree; your inclusion of adverts wouldn’t put me off reading it. I completely agree about getting more of what you focus on, I’ve noticed that numerous times.

          • I feel the same about ads on websites. Some you can ignore, others make you wonder just what you clicked on to arrive there. I have wondered if it would put people off my site, so thanks for your comment. I would have to have some kind of control over what kind of ads were put there, and for what products!

  10. If cream on jam is Cornish, and jam on cream is Devonian, I guess jam on cream on jam on cream must be the Celtic take on a scone. And I must confess, it must make for a wholely superior cream tea experience!

    BTW I love Kitty’s use of the recycled ship.

    • Brilliant! I love that idea, Finn, and am going to think of it as the Celtic method from now on. :-) The wood recyling is wonderful isn’t it? Very pleasing.

  11. Kitty’s is a definite visit next time we are in Scotland.
    I love the sound of the sponge named Vicar’s vice!
    Congratulations on being interviewed for the newspaper. Well deserved.

    • Thanks, Heather. All of the cakes have great names – Sophie’s Sin, Angel Wings, Mata Hari, etc. I just hope Kitty’s is still there when you’re back in Scotland. It would be a tragedy to lose such a fine establishment.

  12. I would very much like to go there and your description of the food and tea sound absolutely delicious. Even your stroll between courses sounds delightful – a nap would also be good!

    • It would be very well worth a visit if you happened to find yourself in Scotland, although it is a bit off the beaten track (which makes its existence all the more amazing). There’s nothing like a bit of exercise of a nice nap to work up an appetite.

  13. Looks like perfection to me!

  14. Tip top, spic & span and pretty as a picture! I think that kitty’s will be a definite must see, if ever I get to visit your side of the world. No doubt the lucky proprietor who takes on this amazing establishment will be carrying on the legacy of the best teas in Scotland :)

    • I think you’d love it, Alice. The food is first class, as is the service and everything else. It’s hard to find a fault with it, but I wouldn’t want to because going there makes me so happy. :-)

  15. Oh, that tea room really does look delightful, and as it is supper time in my little corner of the world, looking at all that delicious food has made me quite hungry. If only there were a way to eat the treats right off my screen, and then wash it all down with a “bulgous” teapot full of Lady Grey. But I digress…I hope Kitty’s is passed on to a worthy successor. It would be a crying shame to see such a place go the way of the dinosaur.

    • I think it would be right up your street, Lucinda, with all the pretty china and delicious delicacies. A bulgous pot of Lady Grey, what a lovely thought. I completely agree about the future of Kitty’s and I await developments.

  16. Yum! Yum! Yum! Ya’ll had a great time it looks like and beautiful display of food and appetizing pictures as well as description!

  17. seriously impressive spread – looks the business

  18. So want to go here! Not been to Scotland since I was little but one day I’ll return and Scotland’s best tea room will certainly be on my list to visit! x

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