Winter and Christmas may be getting a little close for comfort but don’t for a second think that this means the elegant afternoon treats have to come to an end. In fact, now that we’re going to be spending more time hiding indoors as the daylight fades earlier and earlier in the day, what better excuse to share a pot of hot tea and a few snackettes with a pal.
With this in mind I drove through a wild storm of torrential rain last week to partake in an afternoon tea at the Malmaison on the Quayside with an old friend. If you’ve not yet been to the bar at the Mal allow me to assure you that it is the perfect setting for this kind of day. It’s dark, warm and luxurious. All deep purples and thick carpet with a fantastic view of the Tyne and the bridges. Being snuggled into an armchair, watching the downpour ripple the surface of the river, whilst supping a cup of steaming tea and sampling three tiers of cakes seemed like the smart plan. ‘Cosy’ doesn’t cut it; this felt exclusive and wonderful. As though the rain, and in fact the rest of the world, were a million miles away. A proper escapist’s afternoon. As the last of the pathetic winter sun disappears into dusk the famous bridges of the Tyne begin to light up and, should you stay long enough, the Eye will gracefully tilt as you sip your tea and munch your scones. If you’re considering places to bring someone who’s not from the North East then look no further.
As always the service was faultless. The staff are charming, knowledgeable and polite, something the Mal do exceptionally well. We’re offered a drink from the bar while we await our tea and both opt for a fresh orange. Then a team of staff present us with a large pot of tea each (no sharing here), a platter of jam, butter and cream, and the piece de resistance; the tower of food. Beginning with the finger sandwiches, moving through a tier of cakes and meringue, and topped with the scones and two miniature Victoria sponges. Divine.
The sandwich selection featured all the classics; ham and mustard, smoked salmon and cucumber, cheese and pickle and egg mayonnaise. Nothing wildly original but all very pleasant. The middle layer involved two beautiful meringues piled high with fresh Chantilly cream and mixed berries, and two extremely fudgey praline brownies topped with a little cream, strawberry and mint. Those were particularly delicious. The top layer began with the lovely sugar dusted cream cakes (ever-so-slightly dry but only if I’m being really picky) filled with yet more Chantilly and fresh strawberries, and then a selection of teeny plain and fruit scones. The scones were warm and soft inside and, once smothered in cream and jam, made the perfect mouth-sized bite. On the whole the food more than met the Malmaison’s usual high standards. If you’ve been before or read my previous review of the brunch then you’ll know exactly what to expect and certainly won’t be disappointed by the afternoon tea.
This tea was kindly served up to us free of charge for review purposes so big thanks to Beth and the staff at the Malmaison for that treat. It usually costs £14.95 per head, or £24.95 each for the champagne afternoon tea, and is served between 12 and 5 o’clock. Bookings of 6 or more people must be booked in advance. For more details please contact firstname.lastname@example.org