THE Curiously Wicked Tea Room is the curious name for a quaint new eaterie that’s opened up in the chic Sanderson Arcade in Morpeth.
The Edwardian-style restaurant offers some seriously good dishes along with a side ordering of period drama, as we discovered when we popped in for lunch one Saturday.
It’s the brainchild of the Curiously Wicked team who own the award-winning chocolate and patissiere shop on the ground floor. Following on from the success of the chocolatier’s, they have now opened up the first floor and lovingly turned it into a welcoming tea room.
Staff are kitted out in Edwardian dress, and dark wood furnishings, showpiece chandeliers, gold wallpaper and swags and tails curtains all add to the period charm. There’s an enticing snug too with Chesterfields and a lovely air of calm.
It’s all quite theatrical but there’s absolutely nothing quaint or over-fussy about the food, which we found top-notch – much of it locally sourced and home-made.
Chef David Hall, we later discovered, has a great cooking pedigree, having cooked for royalty and worked at many of the region’s top eateries, including Alnwick Castle and The Sage Gateshead in his time.
We took a table, draped in crisp white table linen, by the window overlooking the attractive arcade full of gorgeous shops.
After all the deluges we’ve endured of late, hubby remarked you’d look out of the window and never have to see rain.
Owner Krystyna Dodds and the team have researched the decorations, furniture, recipes and uniforms of the time to transport customers back 100 years.
The business is a family affair too as her daughter works there and is marrying the butler (if memory serves me correctly!).
Although you can take photos with mobiles and text, phone conversations are strongly discouraged, but morning coffee, afternoon tea and indulgent lunches are all positively encouraged.
As well as sandwiches, pastries and filling lunches, local dishes include Tipsy Northumbrian Rarebit, Morpeth Bool and Pan Haggerty.
There’s no alcohol licence as yet and as we didn’t fancy coffees or teas, we chose old-fashioned cream soda, £1.90, and elderflower and rose cordials, £1.90 – rather on the sweet side for me – while we studied the menu.
We chose from the Edwardian Yuletide banquet menu – available until New Year’s Eve, but many dishes also feature on their regular Sunday lunch menu – with three courses for £14.95.
Soup of the day, mushroom and thyme, was creamy and smooth, full of flavour and served with soft stottie triangles with butter portions presented under tiny cloche.
My Festive Shroom Lonnen – a mini mountain of sautéed button mushrooms cooked with the sweetest of chestnuts, atop a toasted stottie and glazed with Northumbrian smoked cheese, was a tasty starter. It came with crisp salad accompaniment.
I followed with traditional roast turkey with delightful touch of choux pastry snowball, filled with sausage, ginger and apricot stuffing. The turkey was soft and succulent – not the slightest bit dry – and the plate looked neat and elegant, the meat served on top of roasties, glazed chunks of carrots, green beans and Savoy cabbage and a dark, rich jus coating all.
The other half’s braised Northumbrian beef with thyme dumplings and all the veggie trimmings was a similar success.
The beef, a shoulder cut and a generous portion, was soft and tender from gentle braising and beautifully moist for it.
He loved the dumplings, although I found them more on the solid side!
Daughter’s choice of Cuthbert’s Folly chicken dish, £9.20, was another piece of tender chicken breast meat, this given a sweet flavouring, glazed with honey and Lindisfarne Mead, and served with Heritage potatoes and Savoy cabbage.
Chef certainly knows how to cook the most tender of meats – all three offerings were stand-out for being so moist and flavoursome.
Desserts sealed the deal for us, which we enjoyed in the cosy confines of the snug.
I chose the curiously named Cousin Reggie’s warm almond ‘drunk-as-a-skunk’ mince pie – a giant booze-infused, rich tart – with cream, while the other half tucked into Great Aunt Bettie Battersley’s chocolate and Bailey’s bread and butter pud, studded with fruit and chocolate.
Both were absolutely delicious, especially the home-made whisky and orange ice cream accompanying the bready pud.
The daughter’s white chocolate and butterscotch tart, £2.75, was a good choice. The sweet pastry case was delicious and the filling, topped with crunchy butterscotch nuggets, sublime.
This is a great addition to the arcade, and judging from our visit, hugely popular too.
Address:Curiously Wicked Tea Room, 18 Sanderson Arcade, Morpeth. Tel: 01670 458183.
Open: Monday to Saturday, 9am to 5pm; Sun, 10am to 4pm.
First impressions: Above the Curiously Wicked chocolatier and patissiere in the elegant arcade.
Welcome: Warmly welcomed by staff in black and white Edwardian dress.
Style, design and furnishings: Dark wood, chandeliers, crisp table linen and gold wallpaper and matching curtains.
Cuisine: Tea room offerings and lunches, including locally-sourced regional dishes.
Service: Excellent. Staff very attentive, polite and professional.
Value: Very good.
Disabled facilities: Accessible
They’ve researched decorations, furniture, recipes and uniforms to transport you back 100 years