Cost – £22.50 (June 2016)
Background – The Varsity Hotel overlooks the River Cam in Cambridge. It has a restaurant on its sixth floor with floor to ceiling windows and a balcony with fantastic views over the city of Cambridge. It is worth visiting the restaurant for the views alone!
Contents – 4 large finger sandwiches (smoked salmon with watercress mayonnaise, ham and mustard, coronation chicken and cucumber with cream cheese). 1 fruit scone and 1 plain scone, a small dish of each of strawberry jam, lemon curd and clotted cream. A small rose water macaroon, a mini lemon meringue pie, a small piece of cheesecake plus a chocolate mousse bomb to be shared between the two of us. A choice of teas (loose leaf).
Comments – Our Afternoon Tea was served in the panoramic restaurant on the sixth floor of the hotel. We were given a window table beside floor to ceiling windows. The view was stunning.
The table was set with traditional Cornishware pottery and blue and white rectangular linen napkins.
On looking at the menu, we asked if the ham sandwiches could be made without mustard. We were told ‘no’ as they were already prepared (I had also requested no mustard on my booking request through open table). Instead we asked if we could then swap the ham for another filling. We both chose extra Coronation Chicken. This was permitted.
The Afternoon Tea arrived first on a three tier stand with round white plates with a thin blue line around them. The tea arrived shortly after in individual Cornishware teapots. We had to ask for milk which then arrived in a jug. We were also given a pretty tea strainer each.
The sandwiches were quite large (a little industrial!) and very well filled. However, having been made beforehand they were also a little soggy, especially the salmon. We could see the teas being constructed from items stored in plastic boxes. A waiter would extract a large sandwich and cut it up into fingers to serve. The salmon sandwich was rather salty, which we thought was due to the mayonnaise. The Coronation chicken was really good with large pieces of chicken breast in it.
For some reason we were served with three fruit scones and one plain. I suspect this was just an error. The scones were of a reasonable size but not very deep. They were fresh and quite tasty. Unfortunately there was nowhere near enough jam and even less cream. We got around this by using lemon curd on its own on two of the scones. The lemon curd was really good.
The cakes were very well presented with bits of gold and silver leaf on them. I tried the macaroon not knowing what flavour it was. I couldn’t finish it as I dislike rose water and it was quite strongly flavoured. The lemon meringue was topped with a large swirl of sticky meringue. The lemon was very nice, I removed the meringue but my husband enjoyed it. The rectangle of cheesecake was good. Finally there was the very pretty chocolate bomb. As we had only been given one between us (although we noticed the next table had one each for the three people at the table), we divided it between us. It was really delicious. It would have been nice to have had one each.
We chose English Breakfast tea to drink. We were served two tiny teapots and a jug of milk (after being asked if we wanted milk…..). The teapots contained loose leaves but only held enough tea for one and a half tea cups full. We asked for a refill and were given it. However, this was just the teapot refilled with hot water, not new tea leaves. The second pots struggled to get strong enough. The tea also got cold surprisingly quickly.
Service was reasonably attentive but was hampered by being let down by the kitchens. We actually overheard the waitress telling another table they had run out of milk!!! At 4 in the afternoon!! Not good planning in a restaurant.