To celebrate National Afternoon Tea Week I sampled a traditional Afternoon Tea yesterday with two friends at SIX, the restaurant at The Varsity Hotel in Cambridge.
SIX is located on the top floor beneath The Roof Top Garden of The Varsity Hotel and Spa with its own terraces for al fresco dining and breathtaking 360° panoramic views across the Cambridge skyline.
We were spoilt with sweet treats at SIX which included a three chocolate mousse mini-dessert, a blueberry and custard tartlet, an orange and chocolate macaron and an indulgent dark chocolate truffle. I was delighted that we were able to order fresh pots of tea at no additional cost too.
Chocolate mousse at SIX, Cambridge
SIX is located on the sixth floor of this boutique hotel with floor to ceiling windows ensuring spectacular views of the historic Cambridge skyline. This is certainly a magnificent location for enjoying Afternoon Tea in Cambridge, and the food and service are of a high standard so it ticks all the boxes.
The traditional Afternoon Tea at SIX remains faithful to the classic combination of finger sandwiches, followed by warm scones served accompanied by clotted cream and Jam and a selection of sweet treats. I was particularly impressed with the extensive loose-leaf tea menu which featured many interesting and unusual blends from Ceylon, China, and India.
Vegetarian and gluten free Afternoon Tea options are available and booking is essential as all the food is freshly-made daily.
Afternoon Tea at SIX is available Monday to Friday: 2 pm – 4.30 pm at £19.50 per person or on Saturday and Sunday: 2.30 pm – 4.30 pm at £24.50 per person.
Afternoon Tea Week is an annual celebration of one of this nation’s favourite traditions. Whether it’s enjoyed in a 5-star hotel, or as a home baked treat, we British love the combination of savoury and sweet treats, accompanied by some of the 165 million cups of tea we drink each day in the UK!
Last week my daughter and I enjoyed a delightful Afternoon Tea at Nancy’s Vintage Teashop in Newmarket. It had been recommended to me by two people recently so I was keen to try this local independent teashop for myself and I’m pleased to say it didn’t disappoint.
Nancy’s Vintage Teashopis located on Old Station Road in Newmarket, at the Clock Tower end of the High Street.
Nancy’s Teashop in Newmarket has been serving specially blended teas, with Afternoon Tea being a speciality for four years now, and it’s deservedly created a brand with a good reputation. At Nancy’s it’s obvious that traditional standards of service and quality are paramount, and all the food is homemade on the premises and locally sourced. If you are visiting Newmarket, I can highly recommend Nancy’s to enjoy tasty treats in this elegant and comfortable vintage-themed teashop, which is styled with an eclectic mix of mismatching antique teapots and china, patchwork sofas, pastel pink dining chairs, and hand-sewn collages and bunting. Altogether bright, attractive and highly effective, and I would say that Nancy’s is the best value quality Afternoon Tea I have come across yet!
Due to popular demand, the owner and founder of the teashop Nancy Clack has recently opened an Afternoon Tea Lounge above the teashop. Seating 24 people and plushly furnished it reflects the same quirky vintage hand-crafted feel as the cafe below. Bookings for the Afternoon Tea Lounge from parties of four upwards are available from 27th June. I suggest that this venue would be perfect to enjoy Nancy’s Classic Afternoon Teas for special occasions like birthday parties, anniversaries, baby and bridal showers.
Last Sunday my daughter and I enjoyed an excellent Afternoon Tea in The Waterfront restaurant at Wyboston Lakes Hotel and SPA, near St. Neots in Bedfordshire. To celebrate my daughters birthday we were booked into the hotel for the *Sunday Runaway spa package, (details below). Set in 350 acres, this modern 4 star hotel and spa, with a golf course and leisure centre is 2.8 miles from the market town of St. Neots.
The Waterfront restaurant at Wyboston Lakes is in a lovely location
We were delighted to receive a glass of bubbly on the house as it was a special occasion
*SUNDAY RUNAWAY Y Spa stay
This Sunday night break includes dinner, bed and breakfast, and a full day’s use of thermal spa facilities on Monday which includes a two-course buffet lunch and a choice of one of the following treatments.
Afternoon Tea was served on pretty bespoke china with linen napkins
Unusually The Tamburlaine Afternoon Tea was served on a floor-standing three tiered stand
The finger sandwiches were freshly made with delicious fillings of egg, smoked salmon, ham and cheese and cucumber
The large freshly baked raisin and plain scones were served warm, and there were two of each
The top tier held a selection of gorgeous miniature cakes and sweet and tangy Mango Panna Cotta mini desserts
The scones were light and fluffy and served with strawberry jam and fresh cream
This brand new four-star hotel is the first UK property from the Irish O’Callaghan group, who own four stylish hotels in Dublin. The Tamburlaine is ideally located on Station Road close to the rail station at the heart of the extensive regeneration of this business and residential area, which has now changed out of all recognition. The 155-room hotel had only been open for three weeks when I visited yesterday, and work is still ongoing inside and out. The staff are very friendly and enthusiastic and they gave us a guided tour after our tea. I noticed that the restaurant has an impressive fine dining menu which I intend to sample sometime.
By the way, the hotel’s name Tamburlaine references a 16th-century play by Christopher Marlowe, who attended Corpus Christi College in the city.
My friend and I were celebrating her birthday and taking Afternoon Tea amid the genteel grandeur of the Colonial-style Garden Room made an excellent start to her celebrations. With ornate Victorian wallpaper and gorgeous silk velvet sofas, this is an exceptionally light and splendid room with a unique style.
The Tamburlaine traditional Afternoon Tea cost £21.50 per person and is priced on the high side for Cambridge, so not the best value for money but the surroundings more than compensate with a strong sense of occasion. One minor quibble though – I was surprised that a selection of loose-leaf tea blends wasn’t available, although we could have unlimited tea or coffee to accompany the food. Highly recommended.
Tamburlaine 27-29 Station Road Cambridge CB1 2FB Tel: 01223 792888
This week I had not one but two good reasons to celebrate as it’s the 2nd anniversary of the date I started my blog and it was a friends birthday, so we treated ourselves to a delicious Full Afternoon Tea at the Bedford Lodge Hotel and Spa in Newmarket, Suffolk.
We ate in the elegant Squires restaurant which although contemporary was the epitome of comfort and luxury that one would expect from a 4 star country house hotel. It was very quiet on a Thursday afternoon so we had the restaurant entirely to ourselves. The service was friendly and attentive, and we were offered limitless refills of pots of tea which I always think is a prerequisite of an Afternoon Tea, but unfortunately this doesn’t happen everywhere.
The food was freshly-made and served on attractive Villeroy and Boch china, with white linen napkins and tablecloths. The finger sandwiches had exceptionally tasty fillings and were generously filled. The scones were extremely light and still warm when served with the very best lemon curd I have tasted anywhere. In fact, I liked it so much I asked if they sold it in pots to take home. (They didn’t!) We also had both plain and fruit scones, with plenty of clotted cream and strawberry jam.
In addition to a delightful selection of cakes and sweet treats we also enjoyed a refreshing seasonal fruit sundae served with a dark chocolate spoon, which was a lovely touch.
Presentation of the Afternoon Tea was especially attractive and appetising. Although we had skipped lunch deliberately we soon ran out of room, so a selection of cakes were boxed up for us to take home to enjoy later.
We had a guided tour of the elite spa adjacent to the hotel which has superb facilities at surprisingly affordable prices, so we plan to book a spa day there soon.
Newmarket is the ancestral home of British horseracing and a unique town in Suffolk which is well worth a visit. The Bedford Lodge Hotel would be an ideal location to stay, and I’m more than happy to recommend Afternoon Tea at the award-winning Squires restaurant – which is open to non-residents.
Next time I visit I intend to try the Gentleman’s Afternoon Tea which was a quirky twist on the traditional. Our Afternoon Tea was £18.95 per person which was exceptionally good value, and is served from 2.30 to 5.30pm, throughout the year. This stylish hotel is set in lovely grounds and there is ample parking.
I only have one minor quibble, and that is the tea was not loose-leaf which one would expect from a hotel of this quality, but a selection of teas were available (or coffee if preferred).
Last week I had a lovely day out in London with a friend to celebrate her birthday. We started our day with a visit to The Switch House, – the new extension to the Tate Modern gallery in Southwark which opened to the public in June 2016.
Having skipped lunch we were looking forward to enjoying a full Afternoon Tea at our next destination The Wolseley, a café-restaurant in the grand European tradition located on Piccadilly, London.
In a classy and relaxed atmosphere we enjoyed The Wolseley’s full traditional Afternoon Tea, which had a lovely selection of finger sandwiches and small cakes, with freshly baked warm fruit scones, clotted cream and strawberry jam, and a choice of loose-leaf teas. At £28.50 per person I considered this to be excellent value, as we were offered more sandwiches and a second pot of tea at no extra charge. Although this place is always busy the service is remarkably good because they have lots of staff. The ambiance is buzzing and it was a super place for people-watching! It’s good to know that their scones and pastries are made on the premises, with an ever-changing selection of cakes, which typically might include a Battenberg or Sachertorte. Everything was perfection, from the white linen napkins, the marble-topped tables, the silver cutlery and tableware, to the bespoke china. We felt that this Afternoon Tea provided a quality experience and it’s the perfect venue for a special occasion. Highly recommended if you are looking for somewhere to eat in London, but booking is advisable.
The sandwiches were freshly-made and especially tasty with fillings of Chicken and tarragon, Smoked Salmon, Celery and Tomato, Cream cheese and cucumber, and Egg and Watercress.
A full Afternoon Tea is served from 3.00pm (3.30pm at weekends).
First opened as a prestigious car showroom in 1921 for Wolseley Motors Limited, the venue became The Wolseley in 2003 and soon became the famous institution it is today.
The Bar at The Gilbert Scott offers flavour, ingredients and theatre and provides the ultimate cocktail experience in show-stopping 19th century surroundings. Guests are welcome for drinks on a drop-in basis, and although I thought it was expensive, it was well worth it for a special occasion.
Tate Modern is a modern art gallery located in the Bankside area of the London Borough of Southwark. It’s Britain’s national gallery of international modern art and forms part of the Tate group. Based in the former Bankside Power Station, the Tate holds the national collection of British art from 1900 to the present day and international modern and contemporary art. Tate Modern is one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary art in the world, and the new Switch House extension provides one of the best panoramic views over London free of charge, so it’s well worth a visit. As with the UK’s other national galleries and museums, there is no admission charge for access to the collection displays, which take up the majority of the gallery space.
Today at Harriets Teashop I sampled something completely different from my usual Afternoon Tea fare, a SAVOURY Afternoon Tea. It made a pleasant change from cake!
On previous visits to Harriets I have enjoyed their traditional (sweet) cream tea, which I have to say I preferred to the savoury version, but it’s a good idea to provide this as an alternative, and it would be an excellent choice for anyone who prefers savoury to sweet treats.
One of the best things about Harriets is they include a free refill of pots of tea or coffee to accompany their range of Afternoon Teas, and there is a wide selection of loose-leaf teas available. Harriets offers a quality standard of service and their aim is to provide “A truly English experience” – which they succeed in doing, and the décor is charmingly old-fashioned. The Savoury Afternoon Tea is substantial and reasonably priced at £17.95 per person, and is available all day.
You can find Harriets Café Tearooms in Bury St Edmunds and Norwich, and Ration Book style Gift vouchers are available, which make a splendid novelty gift.
Last month as an extra birthday treat my daughter and I enjoyed an afternoon of total relaxation at Aqua Sana spa in Center Parcs at Elevedon Forest, with the added bonus of Afternoon Tea included. On a warm August day we sat outside in our robes in the garden of the café to eat a selection of finger sandwiches, scones with jam and clotted cream, and lovely mini-cakes, accompanied by a pot of tea each. It was a perfect way to end our chilled out day!
Center Parcs at Elveden Forest, Brandon, Suffolk IP27 0YZ
Regular readers of my blog will know that I am always on the look out for the bestvalue traditional Afternoon Tea in Cambridge and beyond. On this quest over the last 13 months I have experienced the good, the bad, and the indifferent! In the last couple of weeks I’ve sampled Afternoon Tea with friends at Browns Brasserie, and at The Gonville Hotel (both in Cambridge). I have to say that neither lived up to my expectations, so I am going to review them critically, but both Afternoon Teas had some good points and saving graces too.
Browns Traditional Afternoon Tea is available from 2.30 to 5pm daily
£12 per person (minimum two people)
Note: Booking may be required for parties of 8 or more during busy periods
We ate finger sandwiches with fillings of smoked salmon, cream cheese and chives, and egg mayonnaise. To follow we enjoyed home baked cheese and fruit scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, and a selection of mini desserts and cakes, including salted caramel profiteroles, red velvet cake, white chocolate pot and lemon tart. A choice of teas or coffee was available.
Afternoon Tea was served on a stylish contemporary 3 tier cake stand which I admired
The top tier consisted of cheese and fruit mini-scones, which were warm and freshly baked
The second tier comprised of a vibrant selection of cakes and mini-desserts
The Gonville Afternoon Tea for Two was £28.50 (available at £14.50 for one)
Served from 2.30-5pm daily
This Afternoon Tea included a bottle of still or sparkling water, and a choice of teas or coffee with free replenishment. Finger sandwiches with a choice of fillings, fruit or plain scones served with strawberry jam and Cornish clotted cream, and a selection of mini-cakes completed the spread.
We were invited to sit where we liked, and we were offered a jug of water when we were seated at the table. The napkins were linen, and I admired the stylish modern cake stand and the presentation of the Afternoon Tea. A choice of teas or a pot of coffee was available. The scones were warm, light and freshly baked. I thought that the addition of fresh blackberries to the white chocolate pot dessert was inspired, and the mint garnish was a lovely touch.
And the not so good points were…..
The tea was served in basic white earthenware crockery. The sandwiches did not seem freshly made, there weren’t enough of them, and the fillings were sparse. No butter was offered to accompany the cheese scone, and we had to share the pot of jam and cream. We found the lemon tart too sharp and the white chocolate dessert too rich for our taste.
My conclusion – at £12 a head Browns Afternoon Tea is reasonable value and it’s a lovely, elegant setting with efficient service.
The Gonville – the good points….
We were delighted to be offered a complimentary bottle of still or sparkling water on arrival, which was served ice cold. The tea was served (as it should be) in china crockery. The napkins were starched white linen, and the cutlery was silver. A choice of teas or a pot of coffee was available. We were offered another bottle of water and a fresh pot of tea at no additional charge, which is always most welcome. There was a choice of sandwich fillings, and a choice of plain or fruit scones. The sandwiches were freshly made and generous with delicious fillings. Our Afternoon Tea was served in the opulent but contemporary bar and lounge area, the service was exceptional, and we felt valued and looked after.
And the not so good points….
The top two tiers of the cake stand contained the scones and cakes and surprisingly both were ‘dressed’ with wilting cress. I had to pick a whole bunch of cress out of the jam pot! Again there was only one pot of jam and cream to share between us. We chose fruit scones, but these were either not freshly baked and reheated or just overcooked, but they were dry and too hard to eat, with the texture of a biscuit.
My conclusion is that at £28.50 for two the experience, service, and setting were all excellent, but The Gonville Afternoon Tea was let down by the poor quality scones and the wilted cress garnish.
Browns Brasserie is located at 23 Trumpington St, Cambridge CB2 1QA Phone:01223 461655
The Gonville Hotel is located at Gonville Place, Cambridge CB1 1LY Phone:01223 366611
Frontage of The Assembly House, Norwich viewed from Theatre Street
In late August last year I spent a day in Norwich with a friend, where we enjoyed a splendid Afternoon Tea at The Assembly House. This grand Georgian building is a historic venue with an illustrious past, and the perfect setting for a classic afternoon tea which was beautifully presented, with superb food and service. We had a choice of Loose Leaf tea or coffee from Wilkinson’s of Norwich, and were assured that we could enjoy a second pot of tea at no extra charge. (As the saying goes once bitten, twice shy, – see my review of Peacocks in Ely!)
The set traditional Afternoon Tea included a choice of dainty finger sandwiches, savoury and fruit scones, a selection of miniature cakes, and a dessert by The Assembly House’s pastry chef extraordinaire Mark Mitson.
We were impressed by the freshness and fillings of the sandwiches which were clearly made to order, and additional sandwiches were offered free of charge too. The scones were home-baked and still warm, (and appropriately as Norwich is the home of local company *Colman’s ) the savoury scone was a cheese, *mustard and chive version, served with butter. The fruit scone was served with Norfolk strawberry jam and clotted cream. Both types of mini scone were light and equally delicious. The classic sandwich fillings were of Norfolk ham, smoked salmon, free range egg and cress, cream cheese and cucumber.
We were seated in what must surely be one of the finest and most opulent dining rooms for our Afternoon Tea
Interesting fact – Did you know that Afternoon Tea was originally the brainchild of the Duchess of Bedford who was a Lady-in-Waiting to Queen Victoria? Apparently she thought there was an intolerable length of time between luncheon and evening dinner, so she arranged for tea to be brewed and served with a selection of sweet and savoury snacks, midway between the two meals. The habit soon became established and before long this quintessentially English tradition was being enjoyed by all!
My friend commented “I would highly recommend The Assembly House as the service and the ambience matches the fantastic food”
Granny Apples says – Regular readers of my blog will know that over the last 12 months I have been searching for the best value afternoon tea. For the second of my posts in celebration of National Afternoon Tea Week I am more than happy to recommend The Assembly Rooms in Norwich. This Afternoon Tea was close to perfection, there was nothing to criticize and it was the best value for money at £17.50 for 1, £32 for 2.
The Assembly House, Theatre Street, Norwich, NR2 1RQ
Bookings are advisable on 01603 626402 or firstname.lastname@example.org