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You Really Otter Try These Cream Teas!

The sun has finally come out, just in time for National Cream Tea Day.  This definitely calls for a celebration, regardless of where you stand on the cream first/jam first dilemma!  And if you thought THAT was the only decision to be made when choosing a cream tea, you can’t yet have experienced some of the best Devon cream teas, “made proper” by the team at Otter Garden Centre, Ottery St. Mary.  Intrigued?  Read on…

Devon cream tea (strawberry jam) at Otter Garden Centre, Ottery St. Mary.
Photo by Gabriella Dyson.

When Mrs. Otter Vale made her first trip to Devon a few (ahem) years ago now, she was taken for a day out sightseeing by her now sister-, mother- and father-in-law; had her first ever cream tea, and has been hooked ever since.  So to have a day dedicated to devouring the delight that is a proper Devon cream tea is a dream come true. 

Being a real Celt, she’s very aware and understanding of the debate surrounding the Devon (#creamfirst) v Cornwall (#jamfirst) “methods” of preparing a cream tea.  However, we’d better get this out of the way straight off (we didn’t win Food Drink Devon’s Best Brand award for nothing).  We’re firmly and generously slathering on the cream first; with apologies to our Cornish cousins.

So it was with great enthusiasm that we visited the team at the Otter Garden Centre, Ottery St. Mary restaurant earlier this week to find out more about what makes their cream tea selection so very special.  We sat down for a chat with Simon Raynor, restaurant manager, who has been at the Ottery branch for over 10 years, and chef Liz who is well known for her award-winning jams.  Liz has been at Otter Garden Centre for 18 years, and has been working in the restaurant since it opened in this guise 10 years ago.

Devon cream tea (raspberry jam) at Otter Garden Centre, Ottery St. Mary.
Photo by Gabriella Dyson.

Before you even get anywhere near the cream first/jam first dilemma, you have to make other difficult decisions.  Cream tea, or savoury cream tea?  Maybe this is the way to move beyond the Devon v Cornwall divide.  Fruit, plain, cheese or wholemeal scone?  Simon told us how Sue and the team have been making these fresh scones in house for around 15 years.  As if there wasn’t enough choice, occasionally you might be offered a cheese & bacon scone!  Serious spoilings!  For the savoury cream tea, you’ll usually have a cheese scone, although the cheese & bacon specials might be on offer too.

Sue and her hand made scones in the kitchen at Otter Garden Centre, Ottery St. Mary.
Photo by Gabriella Dyson.

Next dilemma for the cream tea lover – will you be going traditional with strawberry jam, or (Mrs. Otter Vale’s choice) opting for raspberry jam?  If you haven’t tried the jams at Otter Garden Centre, you really rather otter.  [Sorry.  We can’t help ourselves.]  Liz and the team have been making their strawberry and raspberry jams in small batches in the restaurant kitchen for over 10 years now, using the traditional open pan method.  Their quality shows, as her recipe for the raspberry jam has been rewarded with Gold Awards from both Taste of the West and Food Drink Devon, whilst the strawberry jam has achieved a Taste of the West Highly Commended award. 

Liz making her award winning jam in the Otter Garden Centre, Ottery St. Mary kitchen. Photo by Gabriella Dyson.

Should you think that opting for the savoury cream tea makes it any easier, don’t be fooled.  Served with cheddar cheese and grapes, you can choose between warming Curried Peach Chutney, or hotter Devon Fire Chutney.  We asked Simon which chutney is more popular on the savoury cream teas, and he reckons cheese scones with Devon Fire – this might be because Simon may offer you a taster of both, because he’s nice like that, and he really enjoys our Devon Fire!

Savoury Devon cream tea with choice of Curried Peach or Devon Fire chutney at Otter Garden Centre, Ottery St. Mary. Photo by Gabriella Dyson.

If you’ve made it through that far, all you have to do now is decide between a pot of tea or a cup of coffee, then sit down and savour your choice.  We’ve got our personal favourites, so wondered what was most popular with the Ottery St. Mary customers.  Liz feels that strawberry jam just pips raspberry to the post in terms of the customer favourite on the cream tea, with plain scones being the most popular.  Simon’s suggestion was Devon Fire Chutney on the savoury side, although it’s pretty close.

The good news is that you can buy Otter Garden Centre scones and jams, and our Devon Fire and Curried Peach chutneys, on the display just as you exit the restaurant, and at the West Country produce stand by the tills.  Home made, hand made, with West Country pride, from both our kitchens.

Supporting local. Otter Garden Centre Ottery St. Mary restaurant displays Otter Vale chutneys & more. Photo by Gabriella Dyson.

We were all firmly in favour of the Devon Way/cream first.  Mrs. Otter Vale initially thought that the savoury cream tea might help create a lasting peace between the Devon and Cornwall cream first (yes)/jam first (no) brigade, by taking the emphasis off jam.  But with “Devon” Fire Chutney narrowly beating out Curried Peach, that’s not going to go down well in Cornwall.  In fact, you could say that’s that idea gone up in smoke. 

It was a nice try though, so we’ll just have to reveal our bias and leave you with the thought that if #creamfirst is good enough for Dawn French, then who are we to argue?!  Although Jane Devonshire might disagree…

Fancy a freebie???

Fancy a voucher for a cream tea for two at Otter Garden Centre Ottery St. Mary? With a selection of 6 Otter Vale chutneys and marmalades? Then check out our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages and join in the fun.

Terms and conditions:

You can take part on one page or more.

Read our blog to find out more about the choice of cream teas available at Otter Garden Centres Ottery St. Mary restaurant.

Like our relevant page/s, and the equivalent/s pages for Otter Garden Centres.

Retweet/Repost us with a sentence explaining what your choice of cream tea would be and why.

We’ll choose our favourite.

You can contact us directly to consent to arrange delivery of your voucher and products.

Competition closes at noon on Monday 1st July 2019. Voucher use by date is at the discretion of the organisers.

Our decision is final, product selection dependent on availability, no cash alternative is available, and please eat your cream tea responsibly – #cream first!

You really otter try this marmalade… Made by hand at Otter Garden Centre, Ottery St. Mary.
Photo by Gabriella Dyson.

We invited ourselves to Otter Garden Centre, Ottery St. Mary to write a blog post on their cream teas. A huge thank you to all their team for accommodating us with great humour; particularly Katherine, Karl, Simon, Liz, Angela and John. You are all otterly lovely.


  • Rachel bond


    My choice would be a cream tea. The scones are delicious being homemade and the jam is delicious too. Would be a lovely treat for me and my daughter in law. Fingers crossed

    28th June 2019
  • Gill

    Cream tea every tim~ the scones are delicious

    29th June 2019

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