Did you get the idea that we quite like a bit of afternoon tea?
Honestly, what’s not to love? Taking some time out from the 9-5 on a glorious spring Monday, after a few beverages on the Quayside, a pair of comfy wingbacks and cakes awaited us at the new love it/hate it Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Newcastle (NE1 5XN).
Speaking to the restaurant manager, we’re assured the afternoon tea is of the “traditional” sort – no Heston stuff, just finger sandwiches, cakes, and scones, and apparently it’s proving very popular. A safe choice maybe, but achieving perfection through simplicity is hard. It’s priced sans champagne at £15.95 each, so about average for high-end of Newcastle.
You’re seated away from the main restaurant in the Grainger Lounge, which other hotels might call “the lobby” – could see this being annoying on busy days. Comfy though, and you get the positive/negative of being doused in sunshine from the full length windows/seeing (drunk?) people go down a not particularly nice street in town.
Tea selection is better than anywhere we’ve seen recently. An entire little book devoted to describing the nuances of the ten or so loose leaf teas on the menu is helpful for those not well versed in the world of tea (supplied by Ringtons here). One of few places with Lapsang Souchong among some fab others.
Sandwiches are typically classic – cucumber, smoked salmon, and ham, you know the sort. Very light and pleasant and all, if not exactly bursting with intense flavours.
If we had one beef with the overall afternoon tea experience it’s that in this age it could do with a little more balance of savoury vs. sweet. Happily enough here we have a dainty quiche lorraine, which balances rich egginess and salty well, but honestly, it’s a bit tight to serve us one halved between two. Aren’t you making enough from your Knorr stock pots already?
Scones come next and we could level a similar complaint. They are of just the right texture somewhere between light as air and chewy/crumbly, but one plain and one fruit makes the sharing between two awakward, as one inevitably prefers “top” or “bottom”. Nice cream & jam though.
By the time it comes to the cake tier, the food coma is in the post. A chocolate tart with a good pastry is enjoyably melty and studded with pistachios, but the Victoria sponge a little too dense for our liking. A solid and sharp lemon posset to finish should allow you to sit back and take ten minutes time out.
Finishing off the last dregs of tea, you’d have to say, if on the rare occasion that Mr. P-White was to take tea in Newcastle here, he would probably be quite satisfied. Local competition is tough though, and apparently he’s a coffee guy anyway…
Worth a shout – especially if you follow the mantra that MPW is “the place to be seen”.