This weekend, we had the first rays of sunshine in what feels like a decade. I watched people emerge from dank holes in the ground, shell-shocked, squinting against the sun as their eyes adjusted to the light and then slowly peeling off their winter coats, swapping uggs for sandals, and venturing tentatively outdoors. Throughout the day I actually saw several people with their hands held up mid-air, so accustomed they had become to holding an umbrella*. I had to gently push their hands down, shake them and explain to them the raining had stopped and there was fun in the sun to be had.
So, after doing all these good deeds I decided I would indeed have my fun in the sun. And what better way than some outdoor dining with great company. Alfresco cream tea eating is a rarity in the South West unless you want icicles hanging from your nose or to look like you've just emerged from the bottom of the sea. So this was quite the novelty. We (being me, my friend Chlo, her little boy Jasper and our friend Lizzy) were all very excited about this cream tea. Thanks to the whole holiday diet boot camp thing I inflicted upon myself, I haven't had a decent cream tea in a while, so this was a big deal.
We headed to Duttons cafe - http://www.duttonsplymouth.co.uk/. I'm afraid to say it was a disappointment.
Appearance - 3/10 - As you can see, my scones are either imitating the Sahara desert (they were certainly dry enough to contain sand) or they are Warburton’s buns from the 1950s that have been reheated and passed off as a scone. I have never in all my cream tea days, come across a SQUARE scone. Just...what the hell! I know they are gluten free but seriously...don't add salt to the wound Duttons!
The crockery is very plain. I half hoped when I lifted my scone for 'HAHA ONLY JOKING' to be scrawled in jam on the plate and I would be told this was all one big prank and my actual proper cream tea would come out of the kitchen ... but no such luck.
Quantity - 4/10 - we had issues here. On the menu, the only option was a cream tea with one scone. I don't know if this is motivated by a desire by the owners to reduce the waistlines of Plymouth. I doubt it, I think it is a cost cutting measure on their part and it seems the Plymouth public are ready to accept a cream tea with half the goods. However, me and Lizzy decided to buck the trend and ask specifically for a cream tea with two scones. This confused the staff no end. Tills were frantically tapped, we were asked with a look of incredulity if we really wanted TWO scones, and then when it came out Lizzy's only had one! Serious points taken off here. My scones were a decent size but they were so crumbly that I lost most of my collateral to crumbs so I probably only ended up eating one scone.
Duttons 1 - 0 Sarah.
Also check out my tiny jam portion. I run out after two spreads. Luckily Lizzy doesn't like cream (I know I know, I should banish her to the ends of the earth) so I lucked out on extra cream. This staved off an inevitable tantrum.
Taste - 3/10 - It wasn't offensive. But it was dry. Now being a coeliac isn't fun. You spend a lot of your time checking the back of foods, worrying about cross contamination in restaurants and watching others tuck into a warm cinnamon swirl from the bakery whilst you try and smile your way through yet another Eat Natural bar. So when a coeliac goes for a cream tea, they need spoiling. They need to forget for a little while that their stomach is an absolute demon. Duttons just reinforced my coeliac status by asking me to eat a box shaped hulk of sand. When covered in cream and jam it admittedly tasted a lot better but I still got that bitty aftertaste that was equivalent to when road sweepers go by and you unfortunately decide to yawn at just that moment and tiny bits of crap go in your mouth. Difference being I had to pay £5.50 for this experience instead of quietly grumbling and shuffling across to the other side of the street.
Price – 2/10 – Poor value in terms of quantity, service and quality of the food.
Ambience – 5/10 – It was outside seating which was very pleasant. We could people watch from where we sat and the sun was shining. The seating was basic – a picnic bench affair but this suited our needs. The poor service and useless staff brings the score down.
How it made me feel – 2/10 – Refer back to the taste section. It made me feel more annoyed at being a coeliac than I have in a while because I felt like Duttons just thought they’d knock together a crap cream tea and because I can’t taste the normal one and compare the two then it didn’t really matter if it was low quality – because who’s going to listen right? Luckily it was sunny and I had two lovely ladies to converse with so I just chalk this one down to a lesson learnt.
Overall Score - 19/60 (this is the first time I haven't gotten out a calculator to tot up the scores....bad bad sign!)
* This is an outrageous lie in order to more dramatically make my point.