Time for tea by the village green.

A former country pub now pours a great cuppa. Sandra Carter pays a visit.

I may not be the only woman who once dreamed of opening a nice little country tea room.

I remember chatting with a few friends and deciding we would do it together, so we could have days off.

Of course, we didn’t.

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Not many tea shops succeed, not many owners love the hard work, long hours and changing customer tastes.

(You need to be a barista, not a tealady these days.)

But The Red Lion Tea Room at Bradenham has got the business sussed, judging by the difficulty of getting a table there these days.

Definitely book ahead.

The former pub is part of the National Trust’s Bradenham Estate, on the edge of a pretty village green surrounded by cottages, church and manor in a Chiltern landscape of beech woods and farmland, hills and valleys, just off the A4010 beyond West Wycombe.

Ealing Times:

Red Lion Tea Room in Bradenham

When the National Trust decided to change the pub to a tea room three years ago Lisa Hunt took it over.

She said: “My husband and I had in fact run a few pubs before this, but I was excited to run this as a tea room, and I absolutely love it.”

It’s open from 9am so many come for breakfast - everything from the full English to boiled egg and soldiers, mushrooms on toast, bacon sarnie and lots more.

It’s served all day too.

After morning coffee come the lunch crowd for sandwiches, baguettes, salads, soups, jackets, ploughmans, or (with 24 hours’ notice) a full cream tea.

We arrive at lunchtime in the cosy room that has just six tables (plus several outside), well spaced and respectful of Covid guidelines.

Ealing Times:

The breakfast that the tea room had to offer

One couple are tucking into a generous ploughman’s and a tempting-looking Welsh rarebit topped with poached egg.

Four ladies are enjoying coffee, a snack and a long natter.

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We’d heard the home made bread here is delicious, so we choose a sandwich on brown bread - BLT for my friend, bacon and brie for me.

The bread is outstanding.

We add a cup of soup, which today is a warming curried cauliflower. My half-a-sandwich and soup (or alternatively chips) with a varied salad costs just £6.50, which is impressive for home made food of this quality.

Ealing Times:

The Red Lion's tea garden

It’s a tea room, there have to be cakes, and the array is tempting.

I finish my lunch with a good strong coffee and a delicious slice of chocolate and beetroot cake.

Lisa cooks the hot food while her professional pastry cook makes the cakes, and everything possible is cooked from scratch. Such devotion to freshness really makes a difference.

What else to like?

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The snug and cosy decor, bone china plates and generous teapots, and the friendly and efficient service from our server Kate.

There is no bar but wines and bottled beers are served.

The Red Lion Tea Room is open Tues-Sat, 9am-4pm (hot food until 2.30pm).

On Sunday, open 10am-3pm (breakfast until 2pm).

For more about the village, its surroundings and walking trails see www.nationaltrust.org.uk/chilterns-countryside/features/bradenham-estate.

Call them on 01494 565554.