Tuesday 19 March 2019

Afternoon Tea at The Ivy, York

You really are spoilt for choice when it comes to afternoon tea in York, so take this as fair warning, as we're about to make your next tea choice that little bit more difficult. Sorry, not sorry.

Right as you step into the centre of town, you'll spot The Ivy on St Helen's Square, a sophisticated restaurant that's both a relaxed retreat for lunch and ideal spot for evening cocktails. It also happens to offer a rather good afternoon tea, which we recently went along to try.

Cosy up on The Ivy's mustard yellow booth seating where the formalities of white linen tablecloths are offset by chunky patterned cushions and walls filled with botanical illustrations and contemporary colourful art. Not to mention the spectacular bar area which is wrapped in an old black and white image of York from years gone by and rows of slender mirrored panels which reflect the myriad of colours around the room. 

Once seated we were soon sipping on a glass of champagne each and perusing the tea menu. A great choice of traditional and floral flavours and extra points here for having a full description of the afternoon tea food menu too - ideal for bloggers like us who often forget to make notes about the sandwich selection due to being too distracted by pretty food. No? Just us then? For tea we opted for the Ivy 1917 breakfast blend and Ivy afternoon tea blend. 

First up, the savouries. The sandwich selection was good, if a little small, consisting of a delicious truffled chicken brioche roll, classic cucumber and dill finger sandwich, and open salmon and cream cheese on dark rye. While we would have liked to have seen a little more quantity on the savoury side, maybe a small pastry or another classic finger sandwich, you certainly could not argue with the quality of these afternoon tea favourites executed with a heightened sense of style.

For the scones, we won't lie, we found ourselves wondering for a moment if these were shop-bought or home-made, but it turns out The Ivy's perfectly proportioned fruit scones are in fact freshly baked. Presented on a separate cream tea stand and served with sizeable dollops of Dorset clotted cream, strawberry jam, and fresh strawberries, they did not disappoint.

For us, the top tier ticked all the important boxes of an afternoon tea sweet selection. You've got your fruit, something chocolatey, and traditional flavours done with a twist. First, we had been eyeing up those crème brulee doughnuts from the second the stand arrived at our table and they were so good, we wish we could have taken more home! Followed by the raspberry cheesecake which added a little crunch and refreshing dash of fruit, and finally, the chocolate and salted caramel mousse, presented like cappuccinos in mini espresso cups, which were a nice way to finish. 

Overall, our experience at The Ivy was great. The surroundings are beautiful and the staff were wonderfully attentive. Compared to some of our other recent excursions, it is quite a light afternoon tea offering, so we would probably recommend this more to regular tea-goers looking for a refined, yet informal pit stop whilst perusing York's cobbled streets. That said, where other venues might rely on novelties or themed teas to stand out from the crowd, The Ivy has certainly got the classics sorted and the style to go with it.  

Champagne afternoon tea is priced at £26.50pp. For more information and to book visit: https://theivyyork.com/

We were kindly provided with a complimentary tea for review, but as usual, all thoughts and opinions are very much our own!


Wednesday 6 March 2019

Afternoon Tea at The Mount Royale Hotel, York

If you're heading into York for the day, you'd be forgiven for hopping off the train, heading straight into town for a wander through the Shambles and stopping along the way at a famous tea room. However, set your afternoon tea sights a little further and we promise, you will be glad you did, as we discovered last week when we were invited along to The Mount Royale, an independent hotel just a 10-minute stroll away from York Station, with an afternoon tea offering that should definitely be on your radar.

Pastel perfection awaits you inside OXO's on the Mount where its Royal Tea menu is served by appointment only in a lounge style setting that opens up right onto the hotel's impressive gardens. Created by the talented Karen Oxtoby, this afternoon tea is a beautiful blend of colour, flavour and design, filled with countless little details that make this a truly unique offering in a city that is already spoilt for choice when it comes to tea and cake.

To start, presented on a separate serving dish are a range of finger sandwiches with a good selection of breads and fillings including ham and tomato, creamy coronation chicken, tuna and cucumber, egg mayo, and cheese an onion. There is even a cute candy-striped bag of salted crisps to accompany. Hands down our favourite was the coronation chicken, but there are enough flavours to satisfy even the fussiest of palettes - though a couple did only have one of each, so you might have to fight it out!

Next up, the epicentre of any good afternoon tea - the scones. Not only did they look exquisite, perfectly proportioned and homemade with a dusting of sugar on top, the taste test definitely lived up to our high expectations. A very generous helping of jam and cream meant we could layer up on the good stuff to our heart's content and the personalisation of The Mount Royale's locally sourced branded strawberry jam really added that extra touch. However, don't go to overboard, as the best is yet to come.

Served on a two-tier floral stand, the sweet selection is so pretty and thoughtful, you almost feel bad for eating it. But the guilt lasts for all of two seconds when you tuck into this medley of afternoon tea classics and contemporary flavours. Are you a fan of peanut butter? Passionfruit? Amaretto? Take your pick, it's all here. 

The traditionalists out there may deem this array of flavour to be a little OTT, and on another occasion, we might be inclined to agree, but here it works and care has been taken to ensure each piece feels special. The selection includes macaroons, sugar cookies, battenburg, eton mess, mini cupcakes, meringue, and even a milkshake, served in a small bottle coated in rainbow coloured hundreds and thousands, to wash it down. Whether it's the gold dusting, marble effect fondant, or coloured tissue paper parcels, you simply cannot fault the attention to detail and for £19.95 per person (£26.95 with champagne), it's an absolute steal. 

To top it off, we each had substantial pots of breakfast tea and coffee paired with delicate mismatched teacups and saucers. For the tea connoisseurs out there, it might be good to have a tea menu for guests to choose from, particularly for those wanting to be a little more adventurous but for us, it was hardly a deal breaker.

Overall, we loved our time at The Mount Royale. The setting was relaxed, the sun was shining, and the afternoon tea was a real treat. More people need to know about this place. If you're planning a visit to York any time soon and looking for something a little special, this is where you need to be.  

For more information and to book visit: http://www.mountroyale.co.uk/

We were kindly provided with a complimentary tea for review, but as usual, all thoughts and opinions are very much our own!

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