The resurgence of the time-old British tradition of afternoon tea means that wherever you go in the UK today, from tiny Welsh towns that time forgot, to big, bustling London districts moving a mile a minute, there’ll be somewhere waiting to serve you tea and cakes on tap. Although the tradition has adapted somewhat – it’s now almost akin to cardinal sin to refuse a glass of bubbly with your afternoon tea, yet somehow acceptable to drink coffee instead of tea – it’s largely remained the same over the years. With so many different venues offering afternoon tea, however, it’s not often you come across one that really is your cup of tea, so to speak. So, when I was invited to try out the newly launched Taste of Wales afternoon tea in Cardiff Bay Future Inns hotel’s Thomas Restaurant, I was naturally a little apprehensive about what it would be like, especially considering it only costs £12 per person (+£3.50 with Prosecco).
On a sunny day, the Taste of Wales afternoon tea can either be served on the patio of the hotel’s colourful and quirky Thomas Restaurant, or if it’s raining or you just fancy retreating to the shade, there is plenty of table and booth seating available inside.
As we browsed the finger sandwich menu, I sipped on a freshly brewed Americano coffee with milk, interpersed with mouthfuls of Prosecco, while opposite me at the table, my friend Sarah (who was driving) huddled around a red ceramic teapot and a hot cup of English breakfast tea.
For the finger sandwiches, we chose three fillings each from a selection of five, and we each received two lots of each filling, so between us we ended up with a combination of 12 finger sandwiches including locally sourced roast ham with wholegrain mustard, Caerphilly cheese with red onion chutney, smoked salmon with creme fraiche and dill, egg mayo and mustard cress, and hummus and roasted veg, on soft, buttered white and wholemeal bread.
We were particularly fond of the Welsh slate cake stands that the afternoon tea was served on, which certainly helped to instil a ‘Taste of Wales’, while the floral garnishes made for a pretty finishing touch.
Feeling a sugar rush coming on, we moved swiftly on to our second layers, which featured two traditional Welsh cakes and a slice of bara brith. The Welsh cakes were among the best I have ever tasted – they were perfectly sweet and the surfaces were golden and slightly crispy, while the centres were soft and fluffy. As for the bara brith, it was light and moist, with a comforting cinnamon tang. This layer also included clotted cream and what appeared to be raspberry coulis, for the scones.
On the subject of which, the scones (placed on the third tier) were at least three inches high and tasted delicious paired with the cream and coulis, which was much more enjoyable than regular jam as its runny texture served to coat the entirety of the surface of the scones. It tasted just like the jam sauce that’s usually served with arctic roll.
Last but certainly not least, the scones were accompanied by multi-coloured mini macarons – bubblegum, pistachio and raspberry, if I remember rightly. By the time we worked our way up to these, we were so full, we were ready to roll home!
The Taste of Wales afternoon tea at Cardiff Bay Future Inn’s Thomas Restaurant certainly presents something a little different to other afternoon tea offerings in the capital, with its Welsh-inspired theme evident in the local ingredients used in the sandwich fillings, and the traditional Welsh cakes and bara brith included with the tea. We were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food and drink, and at just £12 per person, with a glass of Prosecco priced at just £3.50, the cost simply couldn’t be more reasonable.
The Taste of Wales afternoon tea is served daily from 1pm – 5pm at Cardiff Bay Future Inn’s Thomas Restaurant. To book, please call (029) 2048 7111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where do you recommend for afternoon tea in Cardiff? Leave your recommendations in the comment box below.