Welcome to our blog....here we will share all our afternoon tea adventures with you...the good, the bad and the wonderful!

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Time for Tea.....Washingbourough Hall, Lincoln

Hello there,

Welcome back to another guest post from Tea With Me and Friends, we always love to hear about the afternoon teas that have been enjoyed by other people and this week we are joined again by Ele Crossland. Ele is sharing her afternoon tea adventures in Lincoln at Washingborough Hall......

Just a few miles out of the buzzing Cathedral city of Lincoln is Washingborough Hall. Nestled comfortably into its surroundings, this beautiful Georgian rectory is now a fantastic hotel, restaurant and wedding venue. Luckily for me, they serve an outstanding afternoon tea which I just had to try. On a sunny day with a brisk wind, we decided against the stately dining room, cosy library and comfortable bar area to sit in the garden and appreciate the views towards Lincoln. It’s hard to believe that this peaceful green space, where the birds singing is pretty much the only sound you here, is mere minutes from a thriving City.

I’d booked the afternoon tea ahead and was pleasantly surprised to be welcomed in the spacious hall with such enthusiasm. The staff here are clearly briefed on the day’s reservations as we were immediately shown to the sitting room and offered a seat. They were happy for us to sit outside, despite it meaning they had to negotiate some steep stone steps whilst laden with food. I loved their cheerful approach and felt able to relax immediately.

Afternoon tea at Washingborough is a traditional affair, served on the ubiquitous tiered stand, yet with some modern twists from chef. As well as an interesting range of sandwiches (hummus and salad, roasted vegetable and goats cheese) we enjoyed a new one for me – savoury cheese scones with local Lincolnshire Poacher cheese and punchy pickled red cabbage. These were so unusual and scrumptious – I would definitely consider choosing more of those over the usual finger sandwich. 

The afternoon tea stand was adorned with a selection of delicate and very pretty confections. Although the mini chocolate éclair was melt in the mouth, my favourite was the cherry Bakewell slice. With very clearly defined layers, masses of punchy flavour and exquisite presentation, it was so enjoyable. The third sweet was a tiny finger of carrot cake. The cream cheese frosting was divine. I’d clocked an entire carrot cake on the reception desk so made a note to return for coffee and a full-size slice soon. 

As the level had been set so high by the preceding courses, I fully expected the scones (one plain, one fruit) to pass the ‘scone test’. Hurrah! They did, breaking perfectly down the middle when twisted. Although we were both rather full from the savoury and sweet courses, as well as the never-ending pot of English Breakfast tea which was regularly replenished by the staff, I managed to sample one with fresh jam and thick clotted cream. Delicious, although the second scone had to go in a doggy bag along with a piece of carrot cake and the leftover Bakewell slice.

Sitting in an English country garden on a sunny day is a sure way to relax, and the staff seem every happy for their guests to while away a few hours with them. It’s true that the English weather might not always be kind enough to allow for alfresco afternoon tea, but both the bar/sitting room and the library make for cosy hideaways to sit, chat and eat. I can’t wait for December when their Festive afternoon tea menu comes out. I’ll be first in line for their afternoon tea mince pies and mulled wine. Cheers!

Well, don't those scones look amazing? Afternoon tea at Washingborough Hall costs £14.50 per person and is served is served every day between 2pm (3pm on Sundays) and 6pm. To find out more about those homemade cakes pop by their website.

A big thank you to Ele for sharing her scrummy afternoon tea adventure with us, we can't wait to see where she visits next! If you have an afternoon tea that you'd like to share with us please drop us a line!

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Time for Tea.....Cassandras Cup, Hampshire

Hello there,

Welcome back to another afternoon tea post from Tea With Me and Friends. Now as some of our readers know, although Lorna and I enjoy a lot of afternoon teas in hotel lounges across London, we also like to support local tearooms.

Recently I visited one such tearoom with Sheree - Cassandras Cup in Chawton, near Alton in Hampshire. I had heard about Cassandras on the Internet and really wanted to try this tearoom as it's about a twenty minute drive from my home in Farnham.

Cassandra’s Cup is a traditional English tea room, which offers a good range of traditional and speciality teas and coffees as well as scones, home-made cakes, light snacks, home-cooked meals and afternoon tea. The signs looked very promising as we entered this cute looking tearoom.....

An impressive teacup collection at Cassandra's Cup

Yes, that's a vast collection of vintage teacups hanging from the ceiling!

Now, I know this might be very surprising given the nature of this blog.....but we opted not to sample afternoon tea on this visit! Both Sheree and I decided to opt for sandwiches followed by a slice of homemade cake - all washed down with a pot of tea!

Cassandra's Cup pride's itself on using local produce where ever possible, and also offers gluten free items on the menu.

I opted for the prawn sandwich and Sheree went with egg mayonnaise.....

Sandwiches at Cassandra's Cup

Can you see Sheree waiting patiently in the background of the photo - she was quite hungry by this point and wanted her sandwich!

As you'll see from the photo our tea was served in plain white china teacups which were very modern. Considering the feel of the tearoom and all those vintage teacups hanging above my head, I was a little disappointed. However, the tea was of good quality and we were given extra hot water.

The sandwiches themselves were tasty and fresh, and I enjoyed the side salad (although it was a little oily for me). 

Once we had eaten our sandwiches we decided to pick our cake from the selection on the dresser.....

There was a good selection of cakes and tray bakes on offer. Sheree went for the traditional Victoria sponge cake and I picked the carrot cake....

Victoria Sponge - Cassandra's Cup, Hampshire

Carrot cake
Cassandra's Cup, Hampshire

The slices given were a good size and both cakes were fresh. Sheree commented that her Victoria sponge was very light. My carrot cake was well spiced and moist, with just the right amount of icing. 

Our total bill for this meal came to just under £25.00 for both of us, which was OK as the cakes were very good and we left feeling full. However, I think the sandwiches were a little expensive - my prawns were £6.95.

For more information about Cassandra's Cup please visit their website, you can also see their full menu there. I would like to go back to sample their afternoon tea at some point in the future.

Can you spot Cassandra's Cup - situated behind Sheree!

The village of Chawton is a beautiful village and Cassandra's Cup is situated  opposite Jane Austen’s House Museum, and would make a lovely stop after visiting the museum.

Do you have a local tearoom that you'd like to tell us about - if so please get in touch, we'd love to hear from you!

Thank you for popping by today,

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Time for Tea....Paul Covent Garden

Hello there,

Welcome back to another afternoon tea review blog post from Tea With Me and Friends. This weekend Lorna and I were invited to sample the new afternoon tea on offer at La Maison Paul in Covent Garden in the Le Restaurant de PAUL. 

We know Paul for their amazing macaroons and artisan breads that leave us drooling in their bakeries, but we didn't know that they offered an afternoon tea and so we were keen to find out more. Le Restaurant de PAUL is situated behind the Paul Covent Garden shop, and its a bustling but cute space full of chatter and hungry shoppers and tourists.

Now, this isn't the kind of afternoon tea you might want for a special occasion, but it's a great alternative to a spot of lunch when out shopping with friends....read on to find out more....

Afternoon tea Paul - Covent Garden

Now as you can see from this photo, the afternoon tea is served on a rather imposing iron stand. It's such a grand size that Lorna looks tiny sitting behind it! This did make conversation a little difficult as the table is very small, but we managed to situate the stand so we could gossip around it! The afternoon tea is either served with a hot drink from the main menu or for a little more money you can opt for a glass of bubbles. Lorna opted for a pot of green tea and I was rather controversial picking a cup of coffee over the teas on offer (yes I know...naughty afternoon tea person!!).

On the bottom tier we were presented with three rather rustic looking sandwiches, made with Paul's artisan breads....

Afternoon tea sandwiches - Paul
The sandwiches were fresh and the bread had a wonderful texture as you would expect from Paul. As you can see there are crusts galore on that plate and not a finger sandwich in sight, but to be honest this really suited Paul and the food they are well known for. It was good to see that they had taken the concept of a traditional afternoon tea, but not compromised their style of food when creating their offering. The fillings included a salmon and cream cheese, a chicken salad and a rather lovely brie and salad. The sandwiches were all filled well and a good size.

Once we had demolished the sandwiches we moved up a tier.....

Afternoon tea....without scones at Paul

Now I imagine the traditionalists of you out there are looking on rather confused....these are not scones I hear you cry! And you'd be right...there isn't a scone in sight at Paul...however in their place we had the most delicious light and buttery brioche. They were huge and served with whipped cream and strawberry jam. 

Again, this swerve from the traditional felt right in Paul, where artisan bread is their speciality. And most importantly.....they were good.....very good!

Finally we moved onto the top tier....now get ready to drool a little....

Afternoon tea cakes - Paul Covent Garden

I think Lorna's face says it all - these really were the jewel on the crown at this afternoon tea!

Let's get a closer look....

Sweet treats - afternoon tea - Paul

In the selection we each had a piece of carrot cake, a piece of strawberry and marzipan cake and a cute little macaroon. The menu states that the tea will consist of two pieces of cake, but doesn't specify which ones....surely that means we can keep going back until we have tried them all!

My favourite was the strawberry gateaux, which was light and filled with creme patisserie. The macaroons were also wonderful, with a crispy shell and soft chewy middle. I wasn't a fan of the carrot cake, which I found quite heavy and dense - however the flavours were wonderful.

Paul introduced this afternoon tea in their Le Restaurant de PAUL in September, and we think it gives visitors a wonderful alternative to the traditional lunch/snack experience. The cost of afternoon tea is £19.90 for tea people including a hot drink each - which is exceptional value for the amount of food served and the quality of it.

It might not be super posh here, but the service was friendly and efficient despite it being really busy. We think this makes a great everyday afternoon tea experience. 

Please note that although we were guests at Le Restaurant de PAUL in Covent Garden, this did not affect our thoughts on the afternoon tea experience and all thoughts here are our own.

We'd like to thank Le Restaurant de PAUL for their hospitality. If you would like to find out more about this afternoon tea please visit their website.

Thanks for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna