It being summery now and all, I thought I’d take a little inspiration from the weather and do a bit of a review of some of the afternoon teas, the ones I’ve sampled, on offer in Newcastle.
No, I’m not 64 years old, thank you for asking. I merely think there’s something impossibly quaint about sitting about sipping tea and taking dainty little bites of pathetically tiny sandwiches and cakes.
Firstly Marks & Spencer. Just down the road from me so very handy and, being M&S, you’d of course expect something special.
You’d be wrong.
The cafe has a dim atmosphere, very dingy and basic. I know that’s not necessarily their fault but worth mentioning I thought. Three or four types of sandwiches, egg mayo (standard), salmon and cream cheese (dry), I think there was a chicken one (?) and finally cucumber. Not ‘tuna and…’ Just cucumer. On its own. WTF? I honestly hadn’t realised anyone actually served this anymore. Incredibly thin slices of cucumber between dry (bordering stale) white bread, no spread. Slimy is the word that springs to mind. It was slimy and very tasteless. I hate to be judgemental (Hah!) But I thought this was really shoddy. M&S? Stale bread? Crikey…
The only nice touches were the warm scones and the fact that the crusts had been cut off the sandwiches. I thought this was a particularly cute idea for an afternoon tea but, with the bread seeming faintly stale, the execution was less than delicious.
Marks & Spencer: Disappointing.
So next to Cafe21. The one in Fenwicks, not the one on the Quayside. Not too shabby for Sarah. Decent price, decent food.
I do like Cafe21. Their club sandwiches are TO DIE FOR. The place itself is nice, simple but classy and always lovely and clean. Lovely big windows. It has a great atmosphere and the staff are über attentive without being in your face and needy. Nothing is too much trouble. And if you fancy splashing out a little extra you can add a glass of bubbly to your afternoon tea. Perfect for spoiling your mum…
Cafe21: Fancy and tasty.
Finally the Olive & Bean, on Clayton Street. Always a firm favourite with me. I can’t keep my cake-hungry self out of there. Their cakes are WONDERFUL. Seriously, go, now, try them. You won’t be disappointed. Enormous and sinful, just how cakes should be. Their coffee is excellent too.
The cafe interior itself could be better but I think a lot of that is due to its location and, I’ve found, that if you sit upstairs the enormous sunny Georgian(ish) windows make you feel instantly better.
Their afternoon tea is a bargainous £13 for two people and includes a choice of tea or coffee (you get either a pot of tea each, a cafetiere of coffee each, or one cafetiere and one pot respectively), a great selection of mini sandwiches, wraps and baguettes, fresh scones with jam and cream and a selection of four pieces of the afore mentioned handmade cakes per person. All prettily arranged onto a three-tier serving plate and scattered liberally with raspberries and chopped strawberries. It simply doesn’t get more British. Or more fun. This is a good one for sharing with mums, sisters, or friends, or for that matter anyone who likes cakes.
I certainly do.
Olive & Bean: Always a treat.