Welcome to the revised Joe Ellis' Tea Room Guide website. The site has been in existence now for over fifteen years but during the past couple of years it has gone quieter, not surprisingly. Many tea rooms once visited have sadly closed for one reason and another, and of course the country has changed in many ways more recently.
Joe, my darling husband, originally began the site, as he was treated badly in a tearoom in Kent, and he made a vow that day to tell people about bad service, and as well as sing the praises of good.
Critiquing tea rooms is a natural task for Joe; since childhood, he has loved a cuppa and a scone; he has always visited a tea room over a café or pub.
My husband is a professional karate instructor, a recently ordained Reverend and is a voluntary Chair of a national martial arts governing body. In his spare time, what there is of it, he loves to drive around pretty towns and villages and through the countryside enjoying the peace, and scenery, and especially the tearooms.
If he is ever asked directions to anywhere he will often use a tearoom as a point of reference; in the same way many people use a pub. Joe has no idea where pubs are, he has never drunk alcohol, but instead loves a cup of tea whenever he is out and about. Even our fourteen year old Yorkie Holly enjoys her tea, thanks to Joe.
Each year we try to host a tea party in our home for the charity 'Contact the Elderly'; we love to welcome a dozen or so 80+ year olds together with their volunteer drivers for a full afternoon tea. Joe has a large collection of beautiful cups and saucers which come out especially, and he loves to get into heated discussions with them all. Having recently moved he hopes to continue the tradition in some way.
Joe is very particular about tearooms. If one is doing a good job he will continue to visit as long as it stands. He is very loyal. He often recommends his favourites to friends, family, colleagues, and even strangers he may meet on the train or at some business function.
He has a saying 'Wherever you may be, always have a pot of tea'. He quotes it all the time. Joe and I have been together for thirty-one years, and we often visit the same tearooms year in, year out. I favour a cup of Earle Grey, or even a cheeky glass of wine; like Joe I enjoy the atmosphere of the more traditional ones. If somewhere gives bad service or there are rude or unfriendly staff; he will rarely go back.
One additional thing I should say is that Joe, like me, has Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism. He hates very crowded places, prefers quieter environments; and can easily be overwhelmed if too much is happening at once. He also gets very disturbed when there are constant banging noises or shouting. We visited one once, where the waiters would go through the doors into the garden and the door would slam behind them. After 20 minutes of this, he complained and all he got was a shrug of the shoulders. He has never returned. Because of his Asperger's he will normally visit a tearoom on a weekday mid-afternoon, as they tend to be quieter and he feels more comfortable. If I am with him, he will visit one at a weekend.
Joe has an affinity with beautiful antiques, pretty crockery, lace of any kind, and anything which is traditional. He also loves piano music and, forties and fifties type music (in addition to his beloved Simon and Garfunkel). He does not think a good tearoom (or restaurant for that matter) should use the self-service method. There should be table service and proper cups and saucers. He frowns upon chipped and cracked crockery. He also believes that if it is on the menu, it should be available, unless a waiter tells you otherwise before you choose. His biggest annoyance is being ignored, especially if the place is reasonably quiet.
Yes, he can be fussy, but the whole experience is what he enjoys and every customer, whatever the business, should expect good service.
He is known wherever he goes, as an 'expert' on tearooms, and we have had a whole host of letters and emails asking when he is going to visit them again.
So, due to popular demand, Joe Ellis is back... coming to a 'tearoom' near you!