Brilliant views of afternoon tea over Newcastle.
Going hand in hand with their launch of new venture Garden Kitchen, Fresh Element and the kitchen team at Six at the Baltic have launched a new afternoon tea menu at the Baltic sixth-floor restaurant, which, if you can recall, we were fond of when we visited this time last year.
As before, the ride in the lift up to the top floor makes it somewhat hard not to be impressed by the setting. The wall to floor windows let in tons of light, and on a sunny day it is quite warm, but it’s a beautiful spot. Once seated, we were initially disappointed that tea takes place in the reception/drinks area and not the main restaurant, but it actually makes sense to be away from diners in the main restaurant. With views down the Tyne that other restaurants can only dream of, sipping a glass of champagne from this more relaxed vantage point does add to the special factor.
Three tea variants are available, one with just tea, “classic” (£14.95), with a (good) cocktail (£20.95), or the whole nine yards champagne afternoon tea pictured here at £22.95. Aimed at the higher end of the price scale but definitely good value based on quality.
Classic styling – a three tier tray featuring finger sandwiches, scones, and a cake tier accompany tea, and here, celebrating the fact it was the single sunny Friday of the year, yummy Laurent Perrier champagne.
For sandwiches, a pretty standard selection: cheese and pickle, salmon/cucumber/dill, egg mayo, and a little more interestingly, a chicken terrine. Highlights were the really quite smokey pickle, and the chicken terrine, which packed a heavier punch compared to the usually quite delicate sandwiches. The wafer thin slice of cheese in the pickle melted away without much resistance – we’d probably prefer something a tad more substantial, though we appreciate that finger sandwiches are supposed to be very dainty. Bread is fresh and everything light and easy to eat.
We didn’t get tea until after the sandwiches which was a tad annoying but we did have champagne to sip, and we were offered water. The tea was great, and a few options are available like lapsang souchong, which was nice to see. Didn’t see a brand name for the tea but it was very much loose leaf and really very good – and unlimited.
The scone, singular, is warm, and comes with (Just enough!) clotted cream, and jam. It is a pretty big thing – we’d prefer a couple of smaller ones, especially as one looks a bit stingy on the plate. It is a good one though, striking the balance between being chewy, crumbly and light pretty much spot on. There is no choice though, only plain fruit – maybe a cheese or other fruit/savoury would be a nice option?
Cakes are certainly the highlight. We agreed that Six’s three layered brownie can only be described as amazing. Gooey, sticky, rich, dotted with pistachio, and mega-chocolatey, it hits all the right notes.
We also comment that a teeny lemon and raspberry tart is a winner. Sweet crème patissière fills a thin and cripsy pastry bite-sized delight. Also present are a good but melted green tea macaron, and orange and plantain cake saved from slight blandness with a lovely dollop of chantilly.
As the last bite of cake goes down, it’s hard to find flaws in this afternoon tea; maybe on a more typical rainy day without a glass of champagne one isn’t so taken by the surroundings, but after all, afternoon tea is all about the complete experience.
So Fresh Element have yet another winner on their hands. With a location like this it’d be a shame if they had messed up the opportunity, but thankfully this is one of the best afternoon teas one can get in Newcastle. Just in time for the jubilee!
Better than: 90% of afternoon teas on ground-level within the area, most hotels.
Worse than: Tea at Jesmond Dene House is technically a little more refined, albeit more pricey.
Afternoon tea is served 2pm-5pm Monday to Saturday.
Champagne afternoon tea for two is £46, comped for review. No service charge!
Clotted cream then jam – the correct way!