I've wanted to visit the Little Gallery Tearoom for ages, but I kept missing it...
I'd have missed it this time too but for my sister - who knows how much of a tea geek I am - reminding me the night before and offering to accompany me. And so it was that we made a detour to check it out, on the way to catching a bus elsewhere. And I'm so glad that we did.
The Little Gallery Tearoom is hosted by Watford Museum, popping up on the 4th Saturday of each month just inside the museum entrance.
With an antique shop counter and till forming part of the museum's permanent display, this is an ideal setting for a vintage-style tearoom.
It's currently run by two very friendly ladies, and is clearly a labour of love for them. They tell me that the tearoom is a work in progress, that they are continually looking for ways to improve the tearoom experience. They are on the hunt for the best cake recipes, prettier tablecloths, ways to create the perfect atmosphere. They are happy to chat and they are open to ideas.
The tearoom already has pretty tablecloths and doilies; vases of seasonal fresh flowers and foliage picked from the museum gardens; delicate vintage china; and sugar cubes and silver tongs in enamelled bowls. It has a pleasant atmosphere: truly relaxed and friendly. It serves filtered Fairtrade coffee. And it has an enticing range of delicious home-baked cakes with different flavours and fillings available each month.
Where it is really lacking at the moment is with the tea itself. All that is currently on offer is a standard bagged black tea, served in a large mug. When I asked if any other teas were available I was offered a Clipper white tea, and a Twinings fruit tea, both of which I like, but which were more an afterthought than a menu staple, and which are commonly available in shops and cafes. I had been hoping for at least a small range of loose-leaf black or flavoured teas, served in pots with a cup and saucer. I don't mind paying more for a pot of quality tea, served in pretty china, and I'll go out of my way to find somewhere that provides this. However, after a chat with the tearoom ladies I discovered that this is the direction in which they are considering taking their tea menu and service, so hopefully I won't be disappointed on my next visit!
The Little Gallery Tearoom also functions as an exhibition space for local artists and crafters to display and sell their work, with something different on display each month. Sometimes arts events are run at the tearoom itself, which recently featured a needlefelting workshop, and performances of music and poetry. I'm told it's also a popular venue for crafters to meet up informally, with regular attendees including a local knitting club.
This is a really great space in which to eat, drink, and be creative. Head on over next time you're in the area!
The Little Gallery Tearoom is usually open on the 4th Saturday of each month. Watford Museum is situated at the bottom of Watford High Street, right next to the train station and within easy reach of car parking facilities. Entry to the museum is free.