Lunch at The Ivy Cambridge Brasserie : April 2018

This week I enjoyed lunch with a friend at the recently opened and ultra-stylish The Ivy Brasserie in Cambridge. I had been very keen to visit this new restaurant because it’s had many gushing and superlative reviews about the food and I’ve heard mixed ones about the service. My own experience was a curious one in several ways but nothing negative could be said about the food which we both agreed was excellent. We fully appreciated eating in this elegant and sophisticated restaurant which is a welcome addition to the Cambridge foodie scene. The rise of a new breed of gastro chains is a growing trend which has been led by The Ivy Collection group who have now rolled out 15 spin-off brasseries with more planned, including one which is due to open soon in Norwich.

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The Ivy is located on Trinity Street, Cambridge

The Ivy has own unique bright and vibrant style and the iconic ivy emblem is evident on everything from serviettes to sugar bowls! We observed exceptional attention to detail in the finish of this upmarket restaurant and clearly no expense has been spared. A special mention has to be given to the Cambridge-themed artwork which adorns the walls making it a visually stimulating environment of endless fascination.IMG_20180417_1425233.jpg

The Ivy offers all-day casual dining and the restaurant is open 7 days a week for breakfast, weekend brunch, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, including set menus. We chose to eat from the set menu on this occasion which is available from 11.30am–6.30pm Monday to Friday at a very reasonably priced £16.50 for two courses or £21 for three courses. Booking is advisable but the restaurant also has a dedicated number of unreserved tables available throughout the day for walk-ins. It’s a surprisingly big space and there is a private dining area downstairs.

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Our starter of  Potted kiln-roast salmon with lemon, dill crème fraîche and granary toast was a savoury delight.
IMG_20180417_1333170.jpgOur main
course of Pea, asparagus and goat’s cheese risotto, with rocket and baby shoot salad was a surprisingly generous sized portion and we could only eat half of it. The melting goats cheese sitting atop the risotto was a lovely twist to this classic dish.IMG_20180417_1408186.jpgOur dessert of Lemon posset with Poppyseed shortbread was absolutely divine!

You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned drinks so far in my review because it was rather a fiasco trying to get a soft drink at all, so more on that saga to follow. First, there was confusion on arrival in the lobby area where I was greeted warmly by one member of staff who took my coat and gave me a cloakroom ticket. So far so good until another member of staff appeared who without any interaction took the ticket from my hand and proceeded to give me my coat back when I assumed she would be showing me to my table! Note to the staff – what is wrong with speaking and communication?

When I was eventually seated I was offered still or sparkling water so I asked for tap water whilst I waited for my friend to arrive. A carafe of water was delivered promptly to the table but it wasn’t chilled. After my friend’s arrival, we perused the menus which were on the table and chose a soft drink each. We had to ask a member of staff for the Lunch and Early Evening set menu though and we gave our food order. Despite the restaurant being less than half full (and there seemed to be a lot of smartly dressed staff walking about) I felt the need to complain because I had waited over 30 minutes for my soft drink although my friends Ginger Beer had arrived without delay. I asked our server where my drink was only to be told that some of the components of my drink (a Strawberries and Cream Soda) were unavailable. I ordered a Fever-Tree Elderflower tonic as an alternative. What followed is too long a saga to relate here but we encountered rudeness from a member of the bar staff who eventually brought my drink order when we pointed out politely that it was wrong. There was a curious incident when a small copper jug appeared on the table without any explanation. After asking a member of staff if it was sauce for the fish starter it transpired the jug contained Elderflower cordial for me! Again I say to the staff  – where are your communication skills?
When it came to paying the bill we noticed that we hadn’t been charged for my soft drink or for the carafe of tap water which has been refilled on request. I objected to being asked to pay the whopping discretionary 12.5% service charge due to the poor customer service experience we had encountered. When I explained why to the member of staff who took my card payment we were offered an apology and complimentary coffee or tea to complete our meal as compensation.

Despite these small incidents, the food was exceptionally good so both my friend and I plan to return to eat at The Ivy, and we especially like the look of their very moderately priced Afternoon Tea.

Finally two more hints I would pass onto any would-be visitors, – make sure you don’t get charged for tap water as the people at the next table to us were astonished to be billed for it, and be warned that it’s an awful long way to the toilets which are located downstairs and seem like something of an afterthought for a venue of this size.

The Ivy Cambridge Brasserie

16 Trinity Street, City Centre, 

Cambridge, CB2 1TB

Tel : 01223 344044

www.https://theivycambridgebrasserie.com

 

 

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Step back in time at Carriages of Cambridge for a First Class Afternoon Tea experience!

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The splendid entrance to Carriages restaurant, which is located in the display grounds at Bannold Supplies and Services, Fen Drayton, Cambs

Last week I enjoyed a first-class Afternoon Tea with a friend at Carriages, a splendid new restaurant with a vintage rail theme. Located in the village of Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire, which is about 15 miles from Cambridge, Carriages celebrates the golden age of rail travel and provides an opportunity to step back in time and eat out in style at a purpose-built railway station.

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The perfectly recreated Station Waiting Room even had a real fire burning!
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You can climb aboard Louis, Oliver or Lancelot’s beautifully restored carriages for your Afternoon Tea experience.
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We had booked a private 4-seater compartment in ‘Oliver‘ which has comfy Pullman style seats.
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This project has been authentically replicated down to the last detail. For example, the Station platform originally came from Oakham Railway station.

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This was the most unusual and delightful setting for Afternoon Tea that we had ever experienced. We were seated in a totally authentic recreation of a fine dining First Class carriage with superb attention to detail from the bespoke china down to the recorded steam train sounds.

The food was excellent with high quality, locally sourced ingredients and stylish presentation and we had a second pot of tea without any additional charge. We both thought the Afternoon Tea was very good value at £21.50 per person, and there was plenty of it. As you would expect the service was first-class too, and it’s the perfect venue for special birthdays or anniversaries in a choice of three beautifully restored 1950’s carriages which can accommodate large groups. This vintage railway-themed restaurant experience is highly recommended and we would certainly be happy to make a return visit. IMG_1220 (2).jpg

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Carriages Tea Room

Capability Barns

Huntingdon Road

Fen Drayton

Cambridgeshire

CB24 4SD

Tel : 01954 233 279 (Booking in advance essential)

https://www.carriagestearooms.co.uk

Opening Hours: Tuesday to Saturday: 12:30am – 5:30pm 

(Note that Afternoon tea is served at two sittings – 1.00pm and 3.00pm)

National Afternoon Tea Week celebrated at SIX Panoramic Brasserie, Cambridge : August 2017

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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.IMG_0900 (2)IMG_0910 (3)

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To accompany the Afternoon Tea we chose interesting tea blends from an impressive selection

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We started with delicious finger sandwiches which included smoked salmon and watercress mayo, Coronation chicken, cream cheese and cucumber and ham and mustard fillings
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IMG_0925 (2) Before we moved onto the cakes we enjoyed warm freshly baked fruit and plain scones with strawberry preserve and Cornish clotted cream

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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.

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One of the spectacular views over Cambridge from the terrace at SIX

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!six

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There is also a stunning Rooftop Bar and Terrace at The Varsity Hotel which is open from 12 -10 pm (weather permitting)
SIX at The Varsity Hotel & Spa
Thompsons Lane,
Cambridge
CB5 8AQ

The delights of Nancy’s Vintage Teashop, Newmarket, Suffolk: June 2017

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.

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Nancy’s Vintage Teashop is located on Old Station Road in Newmarket, at the Clock Tower end of the High Street.

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Nancy’s classic Afternoon Tea was served on a vintage three-tiered cake stand full of tasty treats. I was very surprised by this as it’s unusual to be given a stand each and very generous too!
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This classic Afternoon Tea featured a selection of finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones with jam and cream, a mini dessert and petit fours. At £15 per person, it was excellent value for money.
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All Nancy’s food is home-baked on the premises and she pointed out that even the Battenburg cake was made in the colours of their own pink and brown livery – a cute touch!
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The delicious strawberry and cream mini-desserts and the scones were fresh, light and tasty and I was so busy eating them I forgot to take photos before I tucked in!

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IMG_0691.JPG At Nancy’s a choice of 20 unique blends of tea or coffee are available to accompany the food
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We were too full to eat all the cakes so we both brought them home in a bespoke goodie box!

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.

Nancy’s Vintage Teashop

18 Old Station Road

Newmarket

Suffolk

CB8 8DN

Tel : 01638 667064

http://www.nancysteashop.co.uk

enquiries@nancysteashop.co.uk

Afternoon Tea and a spa stay at Wyboston Lakes Hotel and SPA, near St Neots, Beds: June 2017

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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.

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The Waterfront restaurant at Wyboston Lakes is in a lovely location
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A choice of loose-leaf tea was available with refills at no extra cost
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We were delighted to receive a glass of bubbly on the house as it was a special occasion
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This traditional Afternoon Tea had everything we would expect and more…..
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The ham on brioche was a delicious twist on the usual sandwich selection
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The food was served on pretty pink floral china
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The plain scones were served warm with strawberry jam and clotted cream
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The Waterfront traditional Afternoon Tea cost a very reasonable £13.95 per person
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My daughter ended her meal with a complimentary cup of coffee 
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The extensive terrace area outside the lounge bar and restaurant

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We enjoyed relaxing in the fabulous outdoor Hydrotherapy pool at Y Spa, Wyboston Lakes

*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.

  • Y Spa Fresh Face
  • Y Spa Soothing Scalp
  • Y Spa Happy Hands

£119 per person

To book call 0333 7007 667 or email reservations@wybostonlakes.co.uk

 (Many thanks to Wyboston Lakes Hotel for use of the Spa photographs)

Wyboston Lakes Hotel and SPA,

Great North Road,

Wyboston,

Bedfordshire

MK44 3AL

http://www.wybostonlakes.co.uk

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Afternoon Tea at Cambridge’s cool new hotel The Tamburlaine

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The Tamburlaine hotel is located on Station Road in Cambridge, very close to the railway station
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We enjoyed our traditional Afternoon Tea in the plush and luxurious Garden Room

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Afternoon Tea was served on pretty bespoke china with linen napkins

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Unusually The Tamburlaine Afternoon Tea was served on a floor-standing three tiered stand

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The finger sandwiches were freshly made with delicious fillings of egg, smoked salmon, ham and cheese and cucumber

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The large freshly baked raisin and plain scones were served warm, and there were two of each

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The top tier held a selection of gorgeous miniature cakes and sweet and tangy Mango Panna Cotta mini desserts

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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

email: z.pearse@ocallaghanhotels.com

http://www.thetamburlaine.co.uk

A delectable Afternoon Tea at the Bedford Lodge Hotel and Spa : Newmarket, Suffolk – March 2017

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.

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The Bedford Lodge Hotel is located on Bury Road, close to the centre of Newmarket

 

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.

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The finger sandwiches were served on a 3 tier stand and were very generously filled with smoked salmon, ham and egg mayo

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.

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We enjoyed warm freshly baked scones, plain and fruit served with lemon curd, strawberry jam and clotted cream

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.

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The next course was a fresh seasonal fruit sundae served with a dark chocolate spoon

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.

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An exquisite collection of sweet treats completed our meal

 

 

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The elegant entrance to the Bedford Lodge hotel

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).

Bedford Lodge Hotel and Spa             

Bury Rd

Newmarket

CB8 7BX

http://www.bedfordlodgehotel.co.uk

For reservations call: 0800 6522991

 

A Healthy Afternoon Tea at Champneys Tring, Herts: August 2015

Last month my daughter and I stayed at Champneys Premier health spa resort at Tring for a birthday treat for me. We were very fortunate to enjoy two days of pampering, and rest and relaxation whilst basking in glorious hot sunshine. Having skipped lunch on the day we arrived we decided to sample the Champneys Healthy Afternoon Tea, which was an interesting and different take on the usual fare.

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The view of the rear of the spa resort showing the Mansion House and the Terrace café

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Our Healthy Afternoon Tea was served al fresco on the café terrace on a classic three tiered stand, in brilliant sunshine
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A sweet and savoury tier
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And a second tier of cakes
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Another view of our healthy afternoon tea!

The Champneys Healthy Afternoon Tea menu included sandwiches made with Granary bread, filled with Coronation Chicken and Free Range Egg and Watercress, with an Oat biscuit topped with Smoked Scottish Salmon and Cottage Cheese for the savoury tier.  A homemade Wholemeal and Cranberry Scone with Strawberry Jam and Fromage Frais, and a selection of mini tartletts of lemon curd and raspberry, chocolate and orange mouse, vanilla cream and blueberry, with a square of carob and beetroot cake, and a square of carrot cake. Also included were a pot of tea or coffee or a choice of herbal infusions. Very good value at £25.00 for two people.

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Freshly made and simply delicious!
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A selection of beautiful  flowering plants adorned the terrace and patio of the cafe
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The view from our patio as we lay on the sun loungers soaking up the heat of the day 
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‘Granny Apples’ reclining on a bed of green velvet cushions in her favourite spot, a pagoda in the grounds of the spa
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We stayed in a ground floor garden room with patio in the new low rise block behind the glass pool to the far right of this pic
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The impressive rear view of the Mansion House, and adjoining Terrace Cafe, which are set in spectacular gardens
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A perfect summer’s day and Champneys Tring provided the perfect setting to enjoy our al fresco healthy afternoon tea

More information on Champneys Tring, the original health spa at http://www.champneys.com

Tel: 0843 3162222 for Reservations

Other Champneys resorts are available at Henlow, Forest Mere and Springs for day spas and spa breaks.

Top tip – it’s well worth signing up to Champneys mailing list for offers, as we do. The ‘Bring a friend for free’ deal makes a spa stay an affordable treat when it becomes half price and you can split the cost.

 

Celebrating National Afternoon Tea Week (2) The Assembly House, Norwich

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   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.

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Chandeliers and elegance were hallmarks of The Assembly House restaurant lounge area dining room

We were seated in what must surely be one of the finest and most opulent dining rooms for our Afternoon Tea

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The traditional Afternoon Tea was served on a classic silver three tier cake stand
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The miniature desserts on the top tier looked most tempting and tasted delicious!
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The Assembly House has everything, including bespoke napkins, and even a cake box to take away any leftovers!
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The Assembly House is set in beautiful grounds, where you will also find The Noverre Art Gallery which is well worth a visit
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When in Norwich The Assembly Rooms is the perfect place to enjoy al fresco refreshment!

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 admin@assemblyhousenorwich.co.uk

http://www.assemblyhousenorwich.co.uk