Cost – £19.50 (Aug 2020)
Parking and Access – There is a public car park available in the Lion Yard, which is the nearest car park to the venue. There is also some on street parking in Trumpington Street, which may be nearer but is likely to be more expensive. There are toilets available, which are reached on the flat from the tea room.
Background – We have tried once before to have Afternoon Tea at Fitzbillies, which is a bit of a Cambridge institution. On that occasion, we were told it was sold out. You could not book a table ahead at that time.
At the time, some years ago, we saw the Afternoon Tea on other tables, and thought it looked a little small for the price. This has put us off trying again for several years. Now, with the pandemic causing havoc across the world, the British government brought out their ‘eat out to help out’ scheme during August 2020. This took fifty percent off the food bill, up to a value of ten pounds per person. So, we would only pay £19.50 for two Afternoon Teas under the scheme. It was time to try again at Fitzbillies!
Luckily, it is now possible to book a table at the café. We booked online, and specified we were going for Afternoon Tea, also requesting our ham sandwiches without mustard.
It was very lucky we had booked, and said we wanted the Afternoon Tea. When we arrived, and were, eventually, served, we requested Afternoon Tea, only to be told there were no scones available, and there hadn’t been any since two o’clock! After some confusion, we were told two had been put aside for us, as we had said we were coming for Afternoon Tea! This was despite there being a board outside on the pavement saying ‘Afternoon Tea walk-ins available’. The board was still there when we left!
Contents per person – Four rectangular sandwiches (cucumber, ham and mustard, smoked salmon and cheese and chutney). One large fruit scone, a small dish of raspberry jam and a small dish of clotted cream. A piece of (I think) date slice, a macaroon and a piece of brownie shaped like a mouse. A pot of tea.
Options Available – There is a champagne Afternoon Tea available.
Comments – We had booked our Tea ahead as we were visiting under the governments ‘eat out to help out’ offer available Monday to Wednesday during August 2020.
This was our first visit to eat inside at any venue since the start of the corona virus pandemic lockdown in March 2020.
On arrival, we were shown to our table in the eating area of the café. There are also a takeaway area and a sales area. We were shown to a table right up against the edge of the kitchen area. There was another table for two to our other side, which we felt was rather too close. Luckily, the ladies using that table were faced away from us during the time we were there. Also, being against the kitchen area meant that was the only table near us. In normal circumstances, this would be about the worst table in the building, however, is was fine on this occasion as we felt a little safer with no-one else nearby.
The table was completely bare when we arrived. We were given a menu between us and left.
Fifteen minutes later, the waiter returned for our order. Amid some confusion, as mentioned above, we asked for two Afternoon Teas. Once it was understood that we had pre-booked the Teas, our order was taken.
We were then given white tea cups with blue saucers
and a knife and along with a paper Fitzbillies napkin.
The tea arrived quickly in a metal teapot along with a small white jug of milk. It was a little on the strong side. However, we barely managed three and a half small cups of tea between us from the pot. We were never offered a refill. In fact, we were never spoken to again, until we got up to leave and pay. The tea was made with teabags.
The Afternoon Tea arrived soon after on a plain metal three tier cake stand with small white round plates.
Having placed the stands on our table, the waiter then whipped the sandwich plates away saying ours should have come from the kitchen as we had requested them without mustard. He disappeared with the plates, only to return straight away with, what appeared to be, the same plates and sandwiches!!
The sandwiches were reasonably fresh, but had been pre-made. They were all sitting in big trays near the entrance. There was a mix of brown and white bread. They were reasonably well filled. The ham was particularly tasty.
The scone was cold and rather stiff. It had obviously been stored in a fridge. However, it was large and reasonably well fruited. Once split and spread with jam and cream it was much nicer than it looked at first.
There was plenty enough of both raspberry jam and clotted cream for the scone.
The sweet selection was rather limited. The macaroon was hard and crispy, not soft and chewy. The date slice self-destructed on touching, disintegrating into small crumbs.
Finally, the brownie mouse was delicious and was a reasonable size. However, we noted that the cakes on the menu were listed as mini fresh fruit tart, mini éclair and a macaroon. We felt we had got a better selection!
Service was distinctly lacking. We waited fifteen minutes to place an order, to be told we couldn’t have what we wanted anyway. Luckily, this was a misunderstanding. The food, etc, arrived quickly, but then we were more or less abandoned until we got up to pay and leave.
I have based my score for value on the normal price. At half price, which is what we paid, it was reasonable value. However, at the normal price, it is rather poor value.
All opinions expressed in this review are my own. The photographs are all my own.
I remain completely anonymous and always pay for my Afternoon Teas. They are never gifted to me by the businesses reviewed.
I am the legal copyright holder of the content and images on this blog.