[AD – PR invite] Rafters at Riverside House is a Michelin listed, 5 star restaurant-with-rooms located in the idyllic Peak District village of Ashford-in-the-Water just outside Bakewell. In addition to their fine dining menus, Rafters at Riverside have recently launched a sumptuous afternoon tea offering. I was invited to review the experience and took my lovely Mum for a girly afternoon.
Rafters at Riverside House
Rafters at Riverside House was opened in the midst of lockdown in 2020 by restaurateur Alistair Myers and Chef Patron Tom Lawson, who were already operating the highly successful three AA Rosette restaurant, Rafters in Sheffield.
The Grade II-listed building, a former shooting lodge to the Chatsworth estate, dates back to 1620 and occupies a prime location on the River Wye.
We arrived feeling a bit damp and windswept – but received such a lovely warm welcome from three separate members of staff we immediately felt at ease.
Rafters at Riverside has mastered the art of providing exemplary customer service without feeling at all stuffy. There’s deliberately no dress code with jeans and trainers being as welcome as a twinset and pearls.
As such, there was a real mix of diners… from ladies who lunch to a delightful older couple who were celebrating their wedding. It was clear to see that everyone was welcome and immediately put at ease.
We were looked after marvellously by a really lovely lady called Zoe who told us how she had started at Rafters in housekeeping, gradually moving to breakfast and is now running the afternoon tea service. She couldn’t have done more for us – even offering at one point to dealing with a wasp!
Afternoon tea at Rafters at Riverside House
We sipped on a cold glass of prosecco to kick off proceedings, gradually unwinding into the delightful surroundings.
It was then time to choose from a range of speciality teas from Birchall. A presentation box had samples to sniff which encouraged me to try something a bit different from my usual choices, opting for Darjeeling, ‘the champagne of teas’ which I had black and thoroughly enjoyed.
We were then presented with the first round of delights – a cake stand laden with a dazzling array of savoury options.
We started with dainty finger sandwiches, immaculately cut from the softest, fresh bread. The oak smoked Scottish salmon and yuzu mayonnaise was out-of-this-world-good. Followed closely by the Yorkshire hand carved ham, with crème fraîche and wholegrain mustard on tomato bread and the English cucumber, cream cheese, dill and mint.
Next up was a coronation chicken turnover. Hand on heart, I don’t think I’ve ever tried coronation chicken before, it just has never appealed… but Rafters’ version was delectable. Little pops of sweet mango punctuated lightly spiced tender chicken, encased in the lightest, flakiest pastry. Certainly a snack fit for a Queen!
We thought that must be the pinnacle, and then came the cheddar and chive scone served with whipped celery butter. I’ve eaten my fair share of scones over the years, but we both agreed this was probably the best of our lives. Light and airy, with a delicate crumb that melted in the mouth encased in a crisp, cheesy exterior. The flavours were sublime; sharp tangy cheese complemented perfectly with the umami depth of the celery cultured butter.
Eventually the stand was replaced with the selection of sweet treats and we were furnished with clean plates and cutlery.
There was another wonderful scone, served with rich clotted cream and deliciously tart homemade preserve. The patisserie selection included a choux bun filled with mascarpone and Seville orange marmalade and then topped with rich Bullion chocolate, candied orange peel and gold leaf.
We both enjoyed the delightfully light cake of almond, lemon thyme, blackberry and pear and in theory would have finished with a peppermint and white chocolate macaron. As it was, we were full, but Zoe encouraged us to take the leftovers home and they were savoured with relish later in the day.
Both Mum and I agreed we’d had a delightful time. All of the food was heavenly and the service was amicable and thoughtful.
Festive afternoon tea
From 16th November to 23rd December (Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays 12-4pm) Rafters at Riverside House are running a special festive afternoon tea, featuring all manner of Christmas themed deliciousness! Check out the details on their Facebook or Instagram
An unhurried, first-rate afternoon tea experience featuring superlative scones and very friendly service.
Afternoon tea is served Thursday to Saturday from midday to 4pm on a pre-booked basis only. £35 per person.
Gluten free and vegetarian options available. (But note they cannot cater for vegan, egg-free or dairy-free)
Private car park.