Afternoon tea is one of those great British traditions that cannot be rivalled. If there is a better way to spend an hour or two than attacking a towering carousel of sandwiches, cakes and scones with your nearest and dearest we’re yet to find it.
Many cruise lines have added afternoon tea to the already brimming breadth of foodie offerings onboard their ships, but it’s the land-based spots we’re exploring here. Rally the troops and prepare to taste test our top six picks, all of which can be found on our very own shores.
Science Afternoon Tea
The Ampersand Hotel, Kensington (London)
It isn’t hard to see where The Ampersand Hotel found the inspiration for an afternoon tea that is – quite literally – out of this world; the Science Museum is right next door.
Ready your lab coat and prepare to examine space themed treats including mint and chocolate planet mousse complete with a spaceman. Sample kiwi, lime and pineapple jelly in Petri dishes, dust for shortbread dinosaurs and dig for chocolate fossils in Oreo crumb ‘soil’. With dry ice and test tube toppings factoring heavily too, this is one afternoon tea that is far too exciting to leave to the kids.
Fress Afternoon Tea
Fress, 62 Oldham Street (Manchester)
Second in our pick of ‘afternoon tea but not as you know it’ can be found at Fress, a white-subway tiled cafe nestled in Manchester city centre. If your afternoon tea ambitions scale beyond petite sandwiches and cakes you can devour in a single mouthful, this one’s for you.
A Fress afternoon tea includes the not-so-traditional buttermilk chicken and sweet chilli syrup waffles, and salted caramel and dream cheese frosted pancakes. Now, we’re not quite sure what dream cheese is, but it’s cheese, and that’s got to be a good thing, right? You can even wash it all down with an alcoholic milkshake for a supplement. Yum.
The Morrison, Ormond Quay Lower (Dublin)
If you thought afternoon tea was for ladies who lunch, think again. This manly take on the tradition swaps delicate cucumber sandwiches for masculinity and meat galore. Roll up your sleeves and dig into steak sandwiches, beef sliders and sausage skewers.
Even the desserts are more masculine than your usual, with good old whisky taking the chocolate truffles up a notch. Finally, wash the whole lot down with a bottle of Wicklow Wolf beer.
Red Bus Bistro
Stance ZE, Waterloo Place (Edinburgh)
OK, so you’re not going to find anything massively out of the ordinary on your cake stand for this afternoon tea in Edinburgh. It’s worthy of a mention on our list for the quirky surroundings – after all, who wouldn’t want Edinburgh’s rolling scenery outside their window as they munch on a mini quiche?
Choose from a standard afternoon tea or throw some gin into the mix, they’re both served on the same bus. Sightseeing and scoffing – sounds like a perfect combination to us.
Afternoon Punk Tea
The Baltic Social, 27 Parliament Street (Liverpool)
Sliders are a modern-day masterpiece, aren’t they? Any excuse to eat burgers in their twos, threes or fours isn’t to be sniffed at and you’ll find a whole carousel of them at The Baltic Social in Liverpool. Throw mini hot dogs, lamb koftas, salt and pepper fries, and sticky honey and sesame wings into the mix and you’re onto a winner. There are Oreo chocolate brownie and Jammy Dodger cake for dessert too. Also, that definitely isn’t tea in your teapot…
Prefer your afternoon tea served up vegan? Not a problem.
Dim Sum Tea Party
The Crazy Bear, 73-75 Wycombe End (Beaconsfield)
The Crazy Bear’s dim sum is award-winning, so a whole stand full of the stuff is a delight indeed. Pour out a chintzy china cup of raspberry ripple cocktail from the teapot and help yourself to 12 dim sum pieces per person, with barbecue pork buns, pork, prawn and scallop shumai, and crystal har gau dumplings laid out for the taking. There are sweet buns for dessert and your choice of exotic herbal tea to wash it all down. May we suggest the flowering osmanthus or organic silver needle white tea?
Those are just some of our suggestions, sure to whet your afternoon tea appetite as you count down to your next cruise!