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Angela's Tearoom, Forest Row, East Sussex

Tearoom Review: One pot

From the empty window display, cracked walls and uncleared crockery you might have been forgiven for thinking the shop was closed for refurbishment. As a matter of fact it was closing as we arrived but we were very grudgingly granted service - if you could call it that - from one of the most dour proprietoresses we've encountered in thirty counties. Clutter lined every surface: empty boxes and brick-a-brack rivalling for space amongst the assorted chairs and tables. Teenagers bedrooms could have taken messy lessons; had my mother been there she would have wept. And it wasn't just the mess. The place, for want of a more descriptive word, was filthy. The floor clearly hadn't been swept in days and the teapot and cracked sugar bowel must have been harbouring - had we been there with a more biological bent - the most fascinating cultures of Lord only knows what. The food, when it unceremoniously plonked before us, was hardly the highlight. We had scones, microwaved to within an inch of their (long) lives, and jam but couldn't force ourselves to eat the cream, which looked (and smelt) like was meant for shaving, or to stir our tea with the rusty spoons so used a biro instead. Some bizarre compunction seized us to buy a rather lurid looking Battenberg cake on the way out which is still wrapped up in the boot of the car and there's an unspoken tension surrounding its consumption. We're both hoping the other will secretly destroy it in the dead of night. Foul, dirty and depressing, yet, like an abusive relationship, people keep coming back for more. It's unlikely you'll see Royalty in there on your visit but we'd be lying if we said there wasn't something slightly charming about the clutter, something comforting about the contempt with which we were treated. There was something so openly hostile about the hospitality we received it seems as though a gauntlet's been thrown down and we'd strongly encourage you to go there and part with your hard-earned just to spite her.

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