Regular readers will know that there’s very little I like so much as a good afternoon tea. It’s something about the cheerful embrace of gluttony (it is, after all, an entirely unnecessary fourth meal), the ceremony of fussing about with dainty teacups and cake stands and sugar tongs, the childlike indulgence of finger sandwiches with the crusts cut off, the dream team of flavour and texture that is a good jam & cream scone and, of course, the excuse to drink prosecco in the middle of the afternoon. So when Café au Lait got in touch to say that they were hosting a new pop-up afternoon tea event, I was sold straightaway.
Fiona’s Vintage Tea Party comes from the brand-new Bath Artisan Cakes, and the plan is to hold one every Wednesday at Café au Lait which, if you haven’t been there before, is a lovely light and airy coffeeshop on the very edge of Southgate, near the station. Tables for those taking afternoon tea are spread with embroidered tablecloths and laid with a beautiful collection of vintage china, and guests can choose between several menus, from tea and scones to a full-on, table-groaning high tea complete with sandwiches, scones, cake, tea and fizz. You won’t be too surprised to hear I went for the latter.
|The Prosecco Cream Tea in all its glory|
Although I love a good piece of cake, the savoury elements are always my favourite part of afternoon tea. I’m happy to say that the savouries in this case did not disappoint, and I was particularly pleased that the ubiquitous cucumber sandwich (does anybody like those? Honestly? Put your hands up) had been swapped out for tuna and cucumber, which is much more flavoursome. I did miss the other stalwart of afternoon tea, the smoked salmon sandwich, but thought the ham & wholegrain mustard and egg & cress were both very tasty.
Next we moved on to scones – I always feel like they’re the middle course, a sort of halfway point between savoury and sweet. Anyone else? Maybe it’s because the scone itself is more rich than sweet. Anyway, the scones were beautifully light and fluffy, and the jam & cream were plentiful (I hate it when they only give you a tiny, grudging little pot to top your scones – afternoon tea is about indulgence, you want to pile on the jam and cream in a gloriously unrestrained dollop). Finally, we tackled the cakes – we had four different slices to choose from, which was very generous, including my absolute favourite, coffee & walnut. Honourable mention to the Victoria sponge, which is so simple that it’s incredibly easy to get wrong, but not in this case.
|An enviable cake selection|
We washed the whole thing down with pots of Earl Grey tea and chilled glasses of prosecco, and enjoyed ourselves very much. Service was speedy and attentive, and while the food was delicious and the portions generous, the price was pretty good too – £15.95 per person for the menu we chose, although simpler options start from just £7.95. If you’re looking for a midweek treat, I’d highly recommend it.