Thomas Hardy loved Dorchester, and immortalised it as Casterbridge in his novel, The Mayor of Casterbridge. I don't know if Hardy liked a good cup of tea, but if he did it's a shame that Walnut Grove wasn't around in his time, because he would have loved it.
Nestling down a side-street, just off the pedestrianised South Street, Walnut Grove is a relatively large café/restaurant with a biggish menu and keen prices. The decor has a very distinct style, and that's always a good thing, even if the style in question isn't to everyone's taste. The dark walls and silver accents do work, in my book, and give the place a very contemporary look. One side-effect though is that it can look a little dark in there. Or maybe it's just that I visited on a gloomy, overcast day.
A pot of tea for one will do two cups comfortably, and it's decent tea - just about strong enough, yet with subtle flavour. Another plus point is that prices are pretty keen - we had two buttered scones, a pot of tea for one and a glass of milk, and that came in at under a fiver. There's a choice of teas too, with fruit teas and decaff available.
As you would expect from an establishment that bills itself as a café and restaurant, the food menu is extensive, with snacks and more substantial meals on offer. The latter looked substantial and, from what I could see, were popular with the locals, and that's always a good sign, right?
What really makes Walnut Grove stand out though, that little bit above many other tea shops, is the level of service. The staff are friendly and helpful to the point that they really can't do enough for you, though fortunately not to the extent that it gets to be too "in your face". But it's these things that make a difference - there are lots of places in Dorchester, and anywhere else for that matter, that will serve you a good cup of tea. However, it's not just quality in the cup that is required to elevate this to great tea.