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Review: Afternoon tea at The Three Conies

After a tasty afternoon tea with a twist? We've been soaking up the brilliantly irreverent and quirky vibes at The Three Conies in Thorpe Mandeville.

THREE CONIES AFTERNOON TEA THORPE MANDEVILLE

THE LOCATION

Perched on the Northants and Oxfordshire border, The Three Conies is at the heart of the pretty stone village of Thorpe Mandeville. Just a ten minute drive from Banbury and Brackley, it doesn’t get much more country grandeur than this rural enclave, which we like to refer to as the Cotswolds without the crowds.

THE VIBE

THREE CONIES AFTERNOON TEA
THREE CONIES AFTERNOON TEA

Don’t be fooled by the traditional-looking stone exterior of this 17th century drovers’ inn. Owners Rob Morley and Darren Drummond, who took the helm in late 2019, have not held back in putting their eclectic and flamboyant stamp on the place. Rich, darkly painted walls are punctuated by bold and quirky prints, chandeliers and swathes of faux flower garlands, with surfaces spilling over with kitsch decor. Turquoise Michelangelo statue of David to accompany your sirloin steak? No problemo. You can even take some of the decor home with you as there’s a mini shop selling some of Rob and Darren’s favourite pieces. You can snuggle up by the fire in the cosy bar, revel in the extravagantly grandiose ambience of the dining room slash piano lounge or soak up the sun in the huge garden.

SCOFF AND QUAFF

Head Chef Rob likes to call his dishes ‘pub grub crowd pleasers’. His words not ours and we reckon he’s far too self-effacing but there are plenty of hearty favourites on the menu, from Bloody Mary prawn cocktail and three cheese fondue for starters to slow roast lamb shank and Aberdeen Angus cheeseburger mains, as well as epic Sunday roasts. You can also grab cheeky lunchtime baguettes and sarnies too. The Muddy Crew descended for an afternoon tea. Not something we’d usually head to the pub for but, as I’m sure you know, we’re game for anything.

If your idea of a classy afternoon tea comes from starchy hotels serving everything with crisp white linen on plain white plates, then you’ll be in for a fabulously blingy surprise when you come to The Three Conies. We cosied up on orange velvet sofas beneath a portrait of a greyhound in a flouncy, Tudor style dress and chugged back some fizz as our tea was brought forth in spectacular style.

THREE CONIES AFTERNOON TEA

A Chinoiserie tea tray appeared, bearing an elaborate 1980s Fitz and Floyd monkey tea service and, as the overflowing Alice-in-Wonderland-esque gilded crane cake stand swiftly followed (we’ve seen similar ones in Anthropologie for upwards of 300 smackers. Memo to self: no wild post-Prosecco gesticulation), we knew we were in for something uniquely special.

THREE CONIES AFTERNOON TEA

Nothing about The Three Conies can be described as conservative and they certainly don’t hold back when it comes to the food, which is not your usual dainty afternoon tea fare. We started with the sizeable egg mayo and coronation chicken baps and ham and cheese finger sarnies. They may have had the crusts cut of (we’re not animals) but they were still pretty chunky and very filling, so I was glad I’d worn a flowy dress for a bit of extra room.

THREE CONIES AFTERNOON TEA

Rob’s whopping fruit scones came with bowl full of clotted cream and Bonne Maman strawberry jam and although we were feeling pretty satisfied at this point, we forced ourselves, purely in the name of research you understand, to scoff the fresh strawberries, iced sponge cakes, mini doughnuts and Lindt chocolate bunnies before heading to the bar to check out the impressive collection of gins. There are fifty altogether, so enough to keep us out of trouble for the rest of the day.

OUT AND ABOUT

thenford arboretum
Thenford Arboretum and sculpture garden

Sulgrave Manor, the ancestral home of George Washington is just five minutes away by car and Thenford Arboretum, a stunning garden with an outdoor sculpture collection that’s home to Lord and Lady Heseltine, is always worth a visit, but check for opening dates. National Trust Canons Ashby is also close and Banbury is just ten minutes away. Fancy venturing a bit further? You can be at Bicester Village in half an hour.

THE MUDDY VERDICT

Good for: Anyone who loves eating, drinking and smiling, The Three Conies is like medicine for the soul.

Not for: Minimalists will cower in fear. If pared back and pale is your vibe then you may find yourself aesthetically challenged.

The Three Conies, Banbury Lane, Thorpe Mandeville, Northamptonshire, OX17 2EX

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