Saturday 31 December 2016

Happy New Year From The Afternoon Tea Club

Before the clocks strike twelve and chants of Auld Lang Syne begin, we'd like to take a moment to wish you a happy (and treat-filled) new year.

Whilst we're still waiting on the invention of calorie free cake *fingers crossed for 2017* twenty-sixteen has been an eventful year for ATC in other ways, as we've continued to grow, launched a new site and welcomed lots of lovely friends into the fold.

As ever, we feel incredibly lucky to have your support and would like to say a huge 'thank you' for every like, comment and kind word shared throughout the year.

We have lots of exciting things planned for the next twelve months and hope that you'll stick around to join us. In the meantime though, please raise a glass as we say hello to 2017.

Wherever you are tonight, we hope you have a good one!

Laura & Caroline


Wednesday 28 December 2016

Afternoon Tea at Christmas: The Conrad St James, London

As you can imagine, we’ve indulged in our fair share of Afternoon Teas over the years, some more memorable than others, totting up a shameful amount of scones and macaroons on a near on monthly basis. But on one of our most recent visits, we hit what we believed might be a pivotal point in our tea-sipping ventures - the unshakable feeling of, have we been here before?

Entering the elegant Conrad London St. James earlier this month, we were immediately drawn in by its beautiful lounge seating, twinkling Christmas lights and tall, freestanding, silver tea stands, the latter of which really tipped off our increasing feeling of familiarity. A quick Google and it turns out our suspicions were correct, we had indeed been here before as the hotel had originally served under the Intercontinental Westminster brand, which just happens to be one of our favourite places for tea in London. Winner!

We were there to try Emmeline’s Lounge’s new Winter Solstice menu and the team hasn’t missed a single trick to embrace the theme with warm winter flavours and colour. 

With a glass of G.H. Mumm Champagne in hand, we started with the savoury selection which included a dish of sandwiches featuring beetroot and goat cheese, honey roast ham on cranberry bread, which was delicious and sweet, a classic cucumber and chive creme fraiche, and roast beef and watercress brioche. All of this was joined by fig and blue cheese crostini, smoked salmon and avocado salad served in a small individual glass and finally, our ultimate favourite, turkey, sage and parma ham sausage rolls. There’s so much going on here but all of the textures and flavours fit together well, taking inspiration from classic winter dishes.

Then onto the scones, and we love the way they’re presented still warm and tucked under a napkin blanket. These have also undergone a seasonal twist with toasted pecan and cranberry and orange flavours. The pecan is subtle whereas the cranberry and orange has a real burst of fresh flavour. We couldn’t agree on a favourite between us so we will have to simply say, they’re equally as good and moreish! Plus either could be enjoyed with either St Clements Curd or jam and clotted cream.

As much as you will be tempted to, we recommend not going crazy on the sandwich refills as you will want to save as much room as possible for the beautiful Valrhona chocolate wreath and intertwined sweets that follow. Executive Pastry Chef, Zoe Wager has created a spectacular collection of desserts that carry the dark and rustic tones of Winter through layers of seasonal fruit and chocolate. If, like us, you enjoy a slice (or several) of black forest gateaux at Christmas, you will love the white forest gateaux, plus the double chocolate orange tart was another welcome, and Christmassy-feeling addition for fellow chocolate lovers. The sweet selection also includes a plum, raspberry and almond tart, and a green apple and blackberry mousse.

We’re always completely blown away by the presentation at this hotel and this seasonal tea continues that trend with a sophisticated menu and idyllic afternoon tea serving atmosphere made all the more perfect with soft live music and fairy lights dotted around. There are also so many different types of tea on offer, something which can often overlooked in favour of fancy pastries, and our helpful servers were on hand with recommendations to go with our particular menu which included a wonderful golden loose leaf tea with caramel flavour accents. Prices start at £49pp (without champagne) which puts it on the slightly pricier end of London teas, but trust us, the experience is worth it. If you’re looking for something to warm you up during these cold winter afternoons or a pick me up treat as we move into the January slump, this is where you want to be.

For more information and to book visit:

* Prices correct at time of writing

Whilst we were provided with a complementary afternoon tea for review, all thoughts and opinions are our own!

Tuesday 13 December 2016

Afternoon Tea at Christmas: The Cavendish Hotel, London

Located in London’s central hub of afternoon tea activity, close to The Ritz and Fortum and Mason, The Cavendish London is in good company. It’s also situated along one of the city’s iconic tailoring streets and has taken inspiration from these historic roots for its new “Jermyn Street Afternoon Tea” menu laced with hints of festive flavour. We went along last week to try it for ourselves.

The Petrichor restaurant where tea is served, is a laid back and quiet spot. Starting with a glass of champagne and a huge plate of sandwiches filled with some real winter comfort food fillings and flavours, The Cavendish has done away with the traditional tea stand in favour of serving savoury and sweet separately. As expected, the smoked salmon on lemon and rye bread was delicious but our favourites had to be the seasonal turkey and cranberry, and maple roast ham and cheese toastie (Note: Caroline liked this one so much, she stole mine!).

The sweet portion of the menu is presented in a unique sewing box setting, in keeping with the tailoring theme, which unfolds to fill the entire width of the table. To start there are two mini scones each (one plain, one fruit), the perfect size and served warm along with a good dollop of clotted cream and strawberry jam. 

The pretty pastry selection followed a similarly wintry vibe with a banoffee caramel tart, mini mince pie, dark chocolate and cranberry brownie, chocolate and orange slice and vanilla panacotta with winterberry compote. A good mix of both rich chocolate and fruity flavours and plenty to leave you feeling full. The mini mince pie was a welcome festive touch but the winner for us had to be the chocolate and orange slice filled with cream and topped with tangy orange pieces. 

Tea-wise we went for an extremely non-adventurous Breakfast blend and a coffee on this occasion but there were different tea options should you want to try something a little more interesting!

Overall this is a really nice tea and for £29 pp (£35pp with champagne) it’s much cheaper compared to other tea venues in the area, which is a big plus! Perhaps the side that let it down was the environment, it wasn’t a particularly busy afternoon and whilst we understand that it’s difficult to create an atmosphere with few bodies in the room, the restaurant itself isn’t particularly special and for a tea that prides itself on delivering a themed afternoon tea experience, it’s subtleties are drowned out a little by the room itself which lacks any character. The food is delicious but there is so much competition in the area, I believe more attention to detail in the venue itself to create more of a relaxed afternoon tea lounge experience, would really give this tea the boost it deserves.

For more information and to book visit:

* Prices correct at time of writing

Whilst we were provided with a complementary afternoon tea for review, all thoughts and opinions are our own!


Sunday 11 December 2016

The Afternoon Tea Club Revisits: Bettys, York

As you probably know, I'm a massive Bettys fan, so it will come as no surprise that top of my Winter wishlist for 2016 was to reacquaint myself with their Lady Betty Afternoon tea. So as a pre Christmas treat I headed over to York for an afternoon of indulgence with my friend Caroline. 

If you're an avid reader of The Afternoon Tea Club, then you'll have seen Bettys crop up a couple of times over the years, and if not you can read our latest review again here.

For the most part the menu remains largely similar in style, with a couple of twists which include a prawn cocktail amuse bouche to start and a new seasonal cake variation. However, the most noticeable change comes in the form of a miniature savoury duo to go alongside the finger sandwich selection, which was an absolute treat.

When we visited this was in the form of a traditional Pork Pie and Salmon Roulade, which were delicious. I'm a complete salmon fiend, so this was a most welcome addition and who doesn't like a Pork Pie?

The cake selection as usual was fab and included a decadent Chocolate and Praline Slice, miniature Battenberg and delicious Profiterole Tower (I'm sure that this has a technical name, so if anyone knows leave me a comment below!)

I won't say too much more on this one, because you can read our previous review (linked above). However, I will reiterate that Bettys afternoon tea is definitely one to be sought out next time you're in York - their mix of traditional and modern flavours make them the perfect venue for both celebrations and casual treats alike.

For more information and prices, visit the Bettys website

Have you ever visited Bettys? 
Tell us about your experiences below


Tuesday 6 December 2016

The Great Scone Debate: Jam v Cream

The afternoon tea world isn't exactly known for its controversy, however you can guarantee that nothing will get us riled up quite like the Jam v Cream debate. From social media chats to tea-time discussions, it's perhaps one of our most passionate talking points and something which I don't think anyone will be agreeing upon in the near future.

To investigate this further, we decided to put the question out to our good friends on twitter to see if we could find a definitive answer, and with both Laura and myself falling on opposing sides of this debate, it's fair to say that a lot was riding on the results.

Depending which side of the argument you're on, you might be surprised to learn that a whopping 63% of people who responded were in the 'Jam then Cream' camp, whilst only 37% opted for cream first. As a fan of the Cornish method, I was pretty pleased with this result but with over a third of people still preferring the Devon tradition it's clear that a general consensus on this is still a long way off.

Whatever your preference though, there are some things that every scone connoisseur (or sconnoisseur, if you will!) should know. To help with this, we caught up with Gopi Chandran, Executive Head Chef at Sopwell House, to get his top tips on how best to serve, eat and enjoy your scones. 

Mix it up: "While plain scones are delicious served simply with jam and cream, they can be made even better with some clever additions. A personal favourite are cranberry & orange or gingerbread spiced scones, that are perfect around Christmas time."

The Perfect Balance: "The right balance in your scone is just as important as the order in which you apply the jam or cream. A ratio of 2:1:1 (scone:jam:cream) is the ideal way to ensure you have the most delicious scones."

Nice and toasty : "To have your scones at their best, eat them while they are still warm. This ensures that they are still light and fluffy." 

The Perfect Tea: "It is vital to consider what you wash the scones down with. There are so many delicious varieties of tea beyond the traditional English Breakfast that you may not have even tried before, such as Lapsang Souchong, Assam and Raspberry & Elderflower."

How do you have your scones? 
Continue the debate in the comments below!


Friday 2 December 2016

The Afternoon Tea Club Reviews: The Daffodil Hotel, Grasmere

With lakeside views to take your breath away, the Daffodil Hotel has arguably one of the most picturesque vantage points in all of Grasmere. Recently re-opened after a flood induced closure in twenty-fifteen, the hotel is once again available for afternoon tea bookings. 

As a venue that’s been on my radar for quite some time, I decided to head out there last month whilst on a trip away with my parents!

Boasting one of the largest afternoon tea selections that I have ever come across, the Daffodil Hotel caters for just about every taste preference imaginable. From spicy coronation chicken sandwiches, to smokey cheese scones and crusty mini haddock & onion quiches, this menu has been perfectly imagined to satisfy both traditional and non-traditional afternoon tea lovers alike. 

With a selection of cakes that reaches a grand total of eight varieties including; cake pops, chocolate torte, coffee financier, macarons and viennese whirls, the Daffodil’s tea menu has something for everyone - even non cake lovers!

Although he likes the occasional sweet treat, it's fair to say that my Dad isn't as much of a cake fiend as the rest of the family and whenever we've been for afternoon tea in the past he's often commented on how it'd be great if venues could offer a sandwich and scone selection alongside their full afternoon tea menu. I must admit that I've never come across this option before, but was very impressed to find it listed as 'Light Afternoon Tea' on the Daffodil's menu.

For around £6.00 less than the traditional offering you're able to get all of the savouries of a full afternoon tea and just a touch of the sweet, with a selection of fruit and plain scones to finish - perfect for sugar free friends or anyone looking to cut the calories in the run up to Christmas.

What really sells the Daffodil's afternoon tea is its variety and this is extended into their Christmas offering, which is available exclusively throughout December, including: a Black Bomber Cheese Scone, Mince Pie Macaroon, Spiced Berry Panacotta, Christmas Pudding Cake Pop and a Boozy Cherry Yule Log. Head over to our Instagram profile here to see a picture of what they'll be serving up this December (Look out for the Dark Chocolate & Cranberry Christmas Trees - yum!)

I have to say that I was incredibly impressed with the Daffodil Hotel's afternoon tea and would recommend it to each and every one of you. For the quality and quantity of food available, it offers exceptional value for money, with prices marked at; Cream Tea (£8.95pp) Afternoon Tea (£19.50pp) and Light Afternoon Tea (£13.95pp) respectively. When comparing this to similar hotels both on a local and national scale, the Daffodil definitely fares well - check them out next time you're in the lakes and let us know what you think!

Tea is available from 12pm daily in the hotel's lounge or restaurant.

For more information, gift vouchers and booking, visit the Daffodil Hotel website:

* Prices correct at time of writing

Whilst we were provided with a complementary afternoon tea for review, all thoughts and opinions are our own!

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