Traditional afternoon tea evokes childhood memories for many I’d imagine. For me it was having tea and scones with finger sandwiches at my grandmother’s house as we settled down for another episode of Little House on the Prairie. It’s familiar British comfort food at its best and, if presented in the right way, isn’t just for family gatherings, but can be a very sophisticated way to spend your lunch.
Bill’s Restaurant took over Horsham’s disused Town Hall last year and gave it a new lease of life with cushy furniture, an impressive bar and shelves stacked with yummy produce.
Decor: Taking a bench seat in the far corner with a few colleagues, we admire our contemporary country home surroundings.
Sturdy wood furnishings, polished wood flooring and a tidy network of exposed pipes along the ceiling creates a very open space with some cosy touches to make it feel like home (or in my case grandmother’s house).
One of the most important features, to me, is the lighting. The overhanging steel light shades and opulent chandelier create a warm glow that leaves you feeling relaxed.
Service: Our accommodating waiter Pedro introduced us to Bill’s very own afternoon tea menu. Described as a traditional treat with a ‘twist or two’, you can either go for a pot of tea, coffee or Bill’s Hedgerow Fizz.
Talking us through the items available with it, he spoke with good humour and made sure that everything was to our tastes. It’s always appreciated when a waiter goes that extra mile to keep their customers happy, and we certainly were.
Drink: I, of course, opted for the Americano, but as a taster Pedro gave us a sample of the intriguing Hedgerow Fizz.
The coffee was a strong brew with a little milk on the side, as I’ve come to both expect and enjoy.
I shared a few sips of the Hedgerow Fizz my few colleagues and I must say, I could have consumed the whole glass without a second thought (I’m greedy, I’ll admit). It is essentially sparkling wine, but with a hint of elderflower and topped with a floating raspberry - I could get used to this on my lunch breaks,
Food: For two people we received a three tier silver stand with glimmering display of glazed desserts, fresh finger sandwiches and two fruit scones at the top.
Smoked salmon, cucumber and cream cheese, ham and egg mayonnaise - they may be finger sized (hence the name), but four each was more than enough.
On the next level was a display of mouth watering cakes. A strawberry tart, chocolate brownie cake and seeded flap jack were up for grabs, but the sticky lemon meringue was by far my favourite.
The only downside is, again, you have to share, so don’t hesitate when making your selection, otherwise those plump strawberries will be gone in the blink of an eye.
The freshly prepared scones came with Bill’s strawberry jam and clotted devonshire cream, and was really the icing on the cake - I could not manage a single bite more.
Value for money: Who can really put a price on British tradition and fond childhood memories? An afternoon tea works out at £9.95 per person (Hedgerow Fizz option comes at an extra £2), but I promise you’ll not go hungry.
If you’re looking to relive an afternoon visit at grandmother’s house, or want to indulge in something a little more sophisticated, head to Bill’s between 2.30pm and 5.30pm every afternoon for a treat you’re unlikely to forget.