Here in 'sunny' Southend-on-Sea, there's a lot of places that cater for vegans, I am very lucky to be surrounded by such great vegan food. One of these places is by far my favourite place to eat - The Oak Tree, this is a fully licensed vegetarian and vegan restaurant in Leigh-on-Sea. I have had many a lovely meal at this place not to mention my 25th surprise birthday party and I must say, every experience I've had of the The Oak Tree has been great. The staff are lovely and the food is delicious, I don't think I've ever had a bad meal there. Recently, they have added afternoon tea to their offerings, they can do this for vegetarian, vegan and gluten free diets. I was really intrigued to see what this would be like, they offer cakes and sandwiches on their menu of course but I was wondering if this would be something slightly different, the curiosity got the better of me and I booked Dan and myself in.
As soon as we walked into The Oak Tree we could see which table was ours, the table was beautifully decorated with flowers and table cloths, it really made it look special. Soon after we were seated a waitress came over and asked us if we would like a pot of tea or coffee, it was lovely to have the option of both but we stuck with tradition and went for tea. Along with this they also offered a very wide selection of vegan milks, this was great for us because I prefer almond and Dan likes Soya - perfect! To my delight a HUGE pot of tea followed, plenty to see us through the afternoon tea. Then came the three tiers of wonder, I didn't know where to look! On the bottom level were 8 finger sandwiches, 4 filled with cucumber and cream cheese and the other 4 filled with hummus and avocado. On the middle level were two lovely, big, currant scones accompanied by two pots filled with cream and jam. The top level looked too good to touch, there were two chocolate flapjacks, a beautiful iced cupcake and some sliced strawberries - heaven on a plate. The presentation of every level was well thought out and everything was in its perfect place, there were additional pomegranate seeds scattered on the bottom level and with the scones there were slices of figs, these small touches just topped off the whole look.
Once our tea had brewed we started to tuck in. The sandwiches were really tasty, you really can't go wrong with hummus. The bread was lovely and fresh and so were the ingredients. Now, to the scones, these were a really good size, there were lots of currants throughout and the cake consistency in the scone was just terrific. These are definitely the best vegan scones I have tasted since going vegan, full of flavour. There was a pot of fluffy cream, this was more than soya whip cream - possibly rice cream? But it spread perfectly on the scones and wasn't runny at all. I quickly added the jam and delved in, I wish I could put an emoticon here to show my expression on my first bite. Needless to say it was pure satisfaction, really, really delicious scone with cream and jam goodness.
I needed a momentary break after the scone, to drink more tea and just take in what delicious food I was eating. It's moments like this that make me laugh at peoples silly comments about vegans not being able to eat anything and especially no treats. Living a vegan lifestyle certainly doesn't mean you have to deprive yourself of anything and too be honest, I think when I do have treats like this I appreciate them a lot more.
Now to my favourite level - the cakes!
This level combines a few of my favourite things, chocolate, cake and strawberries. There were two rectangle chocolate flapjack slices and these were proper slices, they weren't tiny squares. These were of course, really tasty, I tried to balance the chocolate out by having some of the slices of strawberries too - counts as my 5 a day right? After some more tea we decided to tackle the cupcake, I initially put it on my plate but Dan seem to have other ideas, after a while I was convinced to split it in half to share with him (begrudgingly). This iced cupcake looked so inviting, the whole cake was infused with blueberry, with 3 sugared blueberries on top of the icing, the icing itself had blueberries mixed in and and so did the cake. The cake was so spongy and fresh, it wasn't dry and it was in fact, everything a cupcake should be - DELICIOUS! All the blueberry in the icing and throughout cake complimented each other perfectly. This cake was one of the highlights of the tea for me, I would have loved a whole one to myself because it was so good. The whole top level cinched it for me as this being one of the best afternoon tea's I have ever had.
This afternoon tea at The Oak Tree surpassed my expectations, I thought this tea might include foods that were already on their menu but it was great to see some new additions included in the tea. For £10 per person I think this is WELL worth the money, delicious food, a lovely variety of items and the presentation was on point. You can also make it a Prosecco afternoon tea for just £15 per person, this wouldn't be for me but I think its really good they offer this extra option. Make sure if you did want to try this afternoon tea you MUST pre book.
I can recommend this tea to everyone, as I mentioned they offer it for three different dietary requirements. However, if you gave all this to a non-vegan I can assure you they would not know the difference. The standard of all of this was so high - I was supper impressed! I am happy to say I am due back for another one of these afternoon tea's very soon with some friends so I'm looking forward to having more of these delights again.
(This is us after the afternoon tea, sufficiently stuffed and happy that we've just eaten such great vegan food!)