Recently I tried the afternoon tea at the Brasserie in John Lewis in Newcastle.
For those of my readers who hail from foreign parts, John Lewis is a department store chain in the UK.
I do rather like department stores, and I’m a particular fan of John Lewis, especially their haberdashery department, since it contains a wide range of beautiful (if expensive) yarns and fabrics for my viewing (and occasional purchasing) pleasure.
The store in Newcastle has three restaurants (of which I have visited two) and the swishest of the three, the Brasserie, serves Afternoon Tea.
Now, I may have mentioned this before, but I’m a big, big fan of Afternoon Tea as a concept. It’s basically my favourite meal. But I’m afraid that the version on offer at John Lewis left me feeling rather underwhelmed.
The restaurant itself is pretty nice. It’s inside the shop, but has the feel of balcony, overlooking one of the central areas of the shopping mall, but high enough above the action that you feel separated from it.
The price is quite reasonable. Something in the region of £10.50 for tea for two, which is one of the cheapest teas that I have found. But, I suppose a low price is only good news if the tea is a good one, and this really wasn’t.
We each got a pot of a generic black tea – made with a tea bag (fail), which had been left in the pot (double fail), and which was somewhat less than hot by the time it arrived at the table (triple fail).
There were two kinds of sandwiches: perfectly adequate in quality and taste, but nothing more.
We got two teeny-tiny scones each (one fruit, one plain), which came with a wee bowl of clotted cream (gold star for that) and another wee bowl of jam, but that didn’t arrive until about ten minutes later, presumably because our waitress forgot about it (quadruple fail).
And some cake: two lovely fruit and custard tarts, which genuinely were lovely; and two slices of Victoria Sandwich Cake, which definitely were not – the sponge itself was okay, although a little on the stodgy side, but they had sandwiched the cake with a filling of jam and half an inch thick sweetened whipped cream (so very, very wrong, and the final nail in the fail coffin).
So, to summarise, the setting was good, the service, mediocre, and the refreshments, middling to poor. The only joy being the company: my dear Mama.
I’m still on the lookout for excellent Afternoon Tea in the Toon, so if you hear of any, do let me know.
In summary: Not recommended. Sorry.