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Robertson's
Robertson's actually brands itself as "coffee rooms" we noticed,
somewhat guiltily, as we entered and the smell of freshly roasted
and ground beans, with exciting names like Peaberry and Blue
Mountain, accompanies you through into the little back room where
they serve tea. While the aroma sits you down and unfolds your
(sadly paper) napkin, out front they serve a range of expensive
tasting chocolates and Italian coffee gadgetry, arranged round the
walls like a sweet shop for grownups.

Mr Sleet who welcomed us, served us and ultimately into whose
coffee flavoured fingers we slipped an unbegrudged tenner, is a
man who - if you believe knowledge is power - could command
armies. About his coffee he talks with fluency and fondness
bordering on paternal and if your understanding of mucilage and
fermentation aren't up to scratch to begin with you'll feel humbled
(if not slightly flattered) in his expert presence and he's no less well
versed on tea either.

Sadly, there's something slightly mock about the place which sticks
out - from the Tudor facade to the imitation Edwardian interior -
which is a shame because it's at odds with the excellent standards
to which they adhere. They pitch for a plushness that isn't quite
achieved, despite the imitation bay windows, lace curtains,
optimistically priced oils on the walls and the dreaded doily fallacy
into which they plunge face first. The tea, in contrast is impressive,
served from solid no-nonsense teapots through functional steel
strainers. The scones were fresh and the runny cream and jellied
jam brought off a very passable Saturday afternoon snack. There
was an interesting well of other options we should have liked to
plum but for this Jack and Jill the hill home was steep and we had a
lot of tea inside us.


Station Road West,
Oxted,
Surrey