Places for Great Cake – The Orangery Tea Room

The Orangery Tea Room – Ketteringham Hall, Church Road, Ketteringham, Norwich , NR18 9RS.

The Orangery Tea Room is one of my favourite places for cake and I feel very lucky that it is located very close to where I live. Nestled in the Norfolk countryside in Ketteringham which is just 15 minutes outside of Norwich, it is a little hidden gem. I almost don’t like telling people about it, in fear that it will become too popular and I won’t be able to get a table when I want to pay a visit (selfish I know), which would be every day if I could!

However saying this, I think the secret is well and truly out already. The tea room seems to have grown in popularity so much in the last year and especially since lockdown. Since gaining press coverage over the summer, they have been inundated with bookings and seem to be thriving, which suggests other people enjoy the picturesque nature of the tea room and their food as much as I do.

As I write this blog, we have just entered the second national lockdown, making eating out near on impossible. However the Orangery Tea Room are offering everything on their menu as takeaway, including their afternoon tea so please support them by paying a visit.

The ‘feeling’…

You definitely get a ‘tea room’ feeling as opposed to a cafe vibe, yet it’s not formal or stuffy. The setting of the tea room is beautiful. As soon as you arrive, you can’t help but be impressed by the historic building that is Ketteringham Hall, which is fronted by an attractive lake and surrounded by well kept grounds. The tea room is located in the hall’s orangery, (hence the name) which is on the far side of the hall and when seated inside or outside, you are met with a view of the lake.

The tea room itself is filled with natural light from the large orangery windows and tall ceilings. Although it’s not heavily decorated, the botanical wall paper kind of provides all the decor that is needed. The tables are well spaced out (even more so since Covid) so you don’t feel squashed in. In the summer, you can sit out on the terrace which is just gorgeous in the good weather.

When they re-opened after the first lockdown they offered a takeaway service, in addition to table service, which you could collect and then enjoy whilst sitting in the grounds of the hall. With such a lovely setting this worked really well, especially for me when I was taking regular visits there with Isaac and my mummy friends. We could all relax on blankets under the shade of the trees, comforted by the thought that if one of the babies kicked off, we wouldn’t receive any disapproving looks!

More recently, the tea room have set up a heated marquee to allow them to accommodate customers outside over the winter months. This will be a real plus point, once they are open again. Dogs are welcome on the terrace (and perhaps the marquee) but not inside the tea room. They have a little jar of dog treats which went down very well with Hugo, when I felt mad enough to take him with me one day.

The important part – cake, coffee and other nourishment…

Their menu offers a range of delicious cakes and scones, and an impressive afternoon tea. There is a light lunch menu of sandwiches, paninis, sausage roll, scotch egg and soup. It’s a reasonably basic menu range but nicely made, with local ingredients and perfectly pleasant for lunch.

As I am writing this (November 2020), they had recently re-launched their weekend breakfast menu, which they used to provide pre-coronavirus. Unfortunately they were only able to run it for one weekend before the second lockdown was announced so sadly I won’t have the opportunity to sample their breakfast offering for a while.

When I have visited the tea room for lunch, I’ve had the falafel hummous and red pepper sandwich and sausage roll. Both of which were good but to be honest I normally opt for something sweet.

I believe Orangery Tea Room offer the best fruit scones in Norfolk. I realise this is a bold statement yet I haven’t found any other scones that trump theirs yet. They are a good size, normally served warm and are consistently light and fluffy. I think (but could be wrong) they may contain a very slight taste of lemon, which sounds odd however it’s really not. They are top notch scones.

For this reason, I find it really hard to decide if to have a scone or cake when I visit, as the cakes are also awesome. Hence last time I went, I had both! My favourite cake is their lemon and blueberry layered sponge. I would absolutely love to get my hands on the recipe, sadly there is zero chance of that happening.

Last time I visited I had a piece of Biscoffee cake. A slice of this cake is shown in my picture at the top of this page however it doesn’t do it any justice so I thought I’d share the below photo from the Orangery Rooms’ Instagram story.

This was the first time I’d tasted Biscoffee cake and I would certainly like to bake my own as a result of trying this one. It had such a lovely soft sponge, a subtle caramel taste and great buttercream which wasn’t too sweet. Definitely worth the calories!!

Most of their cakes are proper solid, homemade looking cakes, with the exception of a few like the Biscoffee cake, which is on the fancy side. I always think their cakes are what you would expect from a long term, award winning member of the Women’s Institute to bake but more professional. Check out their Instagram account to see what I mean, you won’t be disappointed.

I’m very disappointed to say I haven’t sampled their afternoon tea yet. I was planning to for my birthday this year, however it may have to be the takeaway version at this rate.

Drink wise, I normally opt for a cappuccino or latte which are a decent size and most importantly always hot. Nothing makes me more mad (a slight exaggeration) than when I get served a coffee which is lukewarm and I have to ‘down it’ before I eat my cake.

They serve a range of different tea’s out of individual tea pots and hot chocolate with all the trimmings. Plus they have an extensive range of cold drinks with posh pops, standard soft drinks, smoothies, and milkshakes.

When I had the opportunity of going out for a ‘girlie evening’ I went with a group of friends to a sharing platter evening. The Orangery Tea Room hosted these evenings on Friday’s and Saturday’s during the summer, when it was warm enough to sit outside. Great cocktails and wine accompanied a very generous platter (we received a platter each, plus bread and crackers which we were all very pleased about), which made for a very enjoyable evening. I really hope they do this again next year!

The service…

The staff have always been very welcoming and attentive. With it being an independent business I think you receive a more personal, almost local service. It feels like the staff care and they want to be there to give you the best experience they can.

The one and only time I had a slight issue with a takeaway order, it was dealt with quickly and they were most apologetic.

In summary

As you can tell I’ve been to the Orangery Tea Room a lot and I love it! It offers a lovely picturesque setting to enjoy good food, with a particular emphasis on good cake!

The only thing that would make it better for me personally, is if there was a walk from the hall. Although it’s set in 36 acres of grounds, most of it isn’t open to the public so you are only able to explore directly outside the hall. Obviously this is no one’s fault, it’s just a shame, well for me anyway, as I love nothing more than a walk followed by coffee and cake!

If you pay them a visit, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Other handy information
  • Opening hours – Sadly they are closed Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday’s are table booking only 11am-3pm. Thursday – Friday 11am-3pm. Saturday and Sunday 10am-3pm. These hours may vary due to Covid so please check their social media.
  • Bookings – the tea room recommends that you book, particularly during Covid however they will do their best to accommodate walk-in’s where they can. You can book a table via the form on their website or give them a call and leave a message on their answer machine.
  • Parking – there is plenty of parking which is situated as you enter the main gates for the hall. It is a two minute stroll from the car park to the tea room.
  • Suitable for push chairs – there are steps leading up to the tea room so you may need a hand to lift a push chair up them. If you head right to the end of the terrace, there are far fewer steps to tackle. The entrance doors to the tea room are quite narrow but they will happily open the double doors if needed.
  • Dogs – are allowed outside on leads.
  • Contact details – You can find their website here or call them on 01603 559224.

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