Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
Published January 23rd 2014
For Vegetarians and Tea Drinkers
Gillam's Tea Room, Market Street, Ulverston
I don't care if you live as far away as Manchester, London or Cornwall, - hey, you could even live in Australia - if you haven't been to Gillam's Tea Room in Ulverston, get yourself there pronto. You don't know how man varieties of tea there truly are until you take a look at their menu. There are about five pages dedicated to speciality teas, including masala, sweet, and chocolate chai. There are also many coffe blends, such as a Ugandan Red Volcano and Sumatra Gaya Highlands. In the alcoholic range you can have a spiced rum hot chocolate or get in touch with wild life with a glass of Running Duck wine or pint of Long Wall Mouse blonde beer.
I last visited Gillam's Tea Room three and a half years ago, and recently reacquainted myself during a trip to Ulverston, a small market town in the Lake District.
Get toasty by the fire while waiting for your toastie.
My mum and I walked in from the damp cobbled streets to a cosy eighteenth century building with a roaring range in the centre of the room. It is a small family establishment which has been running since 1892, and very popular. There is a steady stream of customers, who often have to be turned away or asked to wait because of the limited space available.
Fruit flavoured beers for sale.
Fortunately there was a window seat when we arrived. And maybe for good reason.Situated right next to the front door, you are subjected to a constant ringing from the bell above the entrance. Authentic? Yes. Charming? Yes. But it is also liable to give you a headache.
Once Sat down, we ordered our drinks. Despite the wide variety of teas, Mum stuck with what she knew: good old fashioned breakfast tea. The teas was served in a quaint tea pot, which kept the beverage hot a lot longer than you would expect. There were no teabags here; all loose leaf.
I ventured further than my usual glass of water and asked for blackcurrant cordial with no added sugar. It was sharp, delicious, and I soon found myself ordering an apple cordial shortly afterwards.
The menu had a choice of homemade cakes, all day breakfasts, hot and cold sandwiches, jacket potatoes, and salads. Mum said that the only thing missing was bacon and eggs. It was only then that I took a closer look at the menu and realised that Gillam's is a vegetarian tearoom. Most of their meals are also have a vegan or gluten-free option. For example, you can have your tea cake with winter tar (handmade Cumbrian butter) or soya margarine, and you can choose whether you want white, brown, or gluten-free bread.
The very first pumpkin shaped cucumber?
A lot of their food is Fairtrade, and all of it is organic. Gillam's source their ingredients from local suppliers, and state on the menu where everything comes from. The vegetables are from Lancashire, the milk is delivered in bottles from Swarthmor Hall Farm, and the bread is from a bakery in Grange.
Fried Mushrooms on Toast
Mum had come into Gillam's with the intention of having a tea cake, but was soon torn by fried mushrooms on toast for £3.95. I was also tempted by this, but decided to go for something a little different: a vegetarian BLT. Instead of bacon, you get get marinated tog=fu, lettuce, tomato, and vegan mayonnaise for £4.50.
TLT: Tofu, Lettuce, and Tomato
We both made the right choice. The juices from the fried mushrooms were soaked up by the bread, and my tofu absorbed all the flavour of the tomatoes. Absolute perfection.
Lemon Sponge Cake
Of course, not having a tea cake meant that were were still in the mood for something sweet, and with a long chalkboard of baked goods, it was another tough decision. Mum had a slice of lemon sponge for £2.60, and I asked for a £2 coffee cake. The waitress skilfully brought them standing like erect towers, each with a dinky cake fork.
The experience did not end there. Since our last visit three and a half years ago, Gillam's has opened up a shop next door where you can buy some of the produce. For example, you can get strawberry beer, Kendal mint cake, , braised tofu, tea leaves, coffee, artisan cheese, as well as kitchen crockery, like tea pots, china cups, mugs, and an egg timer that holds the key to the perfect brew.
I bought some figs and vanilla fudge that was on sale for 50p. We left Gillam's with both full bellies and full pantries.