We were recently invited to sample the afternoon tea on offer at Cafe Royal, located opposite Newcastle’s historic Grainger Market and part of the Sir John Fitzgerald brand. I had been thinking long and hard all week about the concept and what it means to me because of Afternoon Tea Week, an event held annually which fell between the 8th and 14th August this year.
While no stranger to unusual takes on the afternoon tea ‘genre’ – we’ve had lasagne, dim sum and burgers served up with some of ours in the past which you can read about on this blog – I’m a fan of tradition. I believe there should be cake, tea and crustless sandwiches, just as the originator (Anna, Duchess of Bedford) intended. Cafe Royal doesn’t deviate far from this well tested formula, but makes a few of its own adjustments to improve on this quintessentially English custom.
Presented with a menu, I had called ahead of time with our dietary requirements. I wasn’t partaking in this with Mr. Canny so am unsure about how they would deal with vegans, but vegetarians can request a meat and fish-free option if the kitchen is given notice.
With Harissa Lamb Sausage Rolls, Tomato & Pesto Tartlets, Peach & Proscuitto Wraps and Cream Cheese and Cucumber Toast to chose from, this was a delicious savoury plate. The sausage roll was singled out for praise, with the smoky seasoning complementing the mild flavoured lamb mince used.
The Pimms Jelly Trifle served was a unique twist on the original, and the Victoria Sponge was light and moist. There was clearly time taken in crafting all the elements of the afternoon tea, with the miniature cakes and scones perfectly executed.
At £27.50 for two people with a choice of Damman Freres tea or coffee, we felt Cafe Royal offered exceptional value for money for the standard of afternoon tea presented to us on the day. For an additional £5 a glass of Prosecco can be served alongside too.
We ate the afternoon tea upstairs – away from the hustle and bustle of people popping in for a coffee after a day of shopping – was a pleasant experience. We didn’t feel rushed and the service was attentive (Siobhan was a star!). It was definitely a more relaxed affair than taking tea in a grand hotel, where you sometimes feel you have to stand on ceremony.
I’ll admit I’ve been an afternoon tea snob in the past in this regard, and have discounted places like this in the city centre as I felt they would not offer a comparable standard to establishments with a long tradition of serving them up. At £13.75 per person Cafe Royal offers great value for money and would highly recommend a visit. For more information about what’s on offer visit their website here.
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