Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Afternoon tea review - The Denton Lounge, Worthing

Afternoon Tea Review - The Denton Lounge, Worthing £6.50


The Afternoon Tea Ladies enjoyed a Day Out to the seaside at the weekend and quite naturally planned to have a spot of tea and cake in the afternoon.  We'd noted a couple of potential tearooms but were not planning on indulging in a full afternoon tea.  That was, of course, until we saw one being advertised at the bargain price of £6.50. What could we do but investigate?

It's easy enough to find cream teas for that price but a full Afternoon Tea with sandwiches, scones, cakes and tea is another kettle of fish so we were delighted to see that our £6.50  included them all.

The Denton Lounge is on the pier in Worthing and has lovely big windows giving you a great view of the pier, the beach and the sea.  We picked a table near the window, perused the menu and then went up to order three afternoon teas.  The ordering took a bit of time as there were lots of details we needed to confirm - type of tea/sandwich/cake -  but the staff were very helpful and enthusiastic.

The teas on offer were the standard selection of Twinings teas that are in many cafes.  Whilst it wasn't the most extensive collection we've seen, it did have black, green and herbal teas on offer. Mo and Caroline chose the English Breakfast, while Charlotte picked the green tea. We got fresh hot water when we asked so there was plenty of tea to go with the food. 19/30  

Unlike most of the afternoon teas we've been having in London where you're given a selection of sandwiches and cakes, this was a bit more modest.  We each had to pick a flavour of sandwich from their menu, which was then cut into four triangles for us. If you're going with friends you could mix and match to try a selection if you want. Caroline chose the ham and tomato sandwiches, Mo the topside of beef and Charlotte the prawn mayonnaise. The ham sandwiches were particularly good and the others were ok but nothing special. It was clear that they had been freshly made and the bread was good quality. 19/30

There was only one fruit scone each but as you can see from the photo, it was a large one. They were served with jam (unfortunately the kind in little plastic tubs) and real clotted cream. They were very good and one was plenty due to their size. 20/30

We each chose a slice of cake from the display - Victoria sponge, chocolate and orange, or coffee and walnut. Mo and Charlotte chose the Victoria Sponge and Caroline picked the chocolate cake and we were all given a generous slice.  It's worth noting that The Denton Lounge had several other cake options including cheesecake and a Rocky Road, that all looked amazing, but weren't included in the afternoon tea deal.  However we certainly weren't disappointed with the cakes that we got! By the time we got to the cake course we were so full that we decided to take our cakes with us for later.  Caroline made the mistake of opening her chocolate cake on the train home for a sample only to end up eating the whole thing as it was so moreish.  Mo and Charlotte sensibly lasted at least until they got home and when they did get round to their Victoria Sponges, declared them to be one of the best they've had. 21/30

Overall this was a very good afternoon tea especially considering the cost.  The selection of tea and food was more limited but the quality was as good, and in some cases better than some of the expensive afternoon teas we've had.  The quantity was similarly limited in some ways - we couldn't have asked for more sandwiches for example, but the portions we got were ample and we certainly didn't feel cheated.  Very good value for money, and a lovely setting looking out over Worthing pier to the sea.

Pros                                                                                      Cons
Lovely view out to sea                                                    Limited choice
Excellent value for money                                            No table service
Quality of cakes                                                                  


8 out of 10

Monday, 8 April 2013

Afternoon Tea Review - The Savoy

Afternoon Tea Review - The Savoy £42.50

It was Caroline's birthday, so she got to choose the venue for afternoon tea and her choice was The Savoy Hotel.  

Afternoon tea is served in the Thames Foyer which is a large light room with a domed ceiling that lets in a lot of light giving it an airy feel. Right in the middle of the room is a piano and we had a pianist providing some background music throughout the afternoon.

There was a large range of tea to choose from.  Mo chose the Ceylon; Caroline chose the Savoy Afternoon blend and Charlotte had the Yellow tea, which is not often seen on tea menus and is similar to green tea.  We were all pleased with our choices, and the pots were constantly topped up and refreshed throughout the meal.  However, the tea came in metal teapots, which, whilst pretty, inevitably became hot and difficult to hold, and which resulted in the tea cooling down quite quickly.  Also, our table was too small to hold the teapots, so they were placed on a stand nearby, which meant we couldn't pour them ourselves and had to wait for the waitress to do it.  26/30

The sandwiches were smoked salmon, egg and "shiso cress", chicken, cucumber, and ham.  The food was all topped up as often as we wanted, so even though our original serving of sandwiches was small, this wasn't an issue.  We had mixed feelings about the fillings though.  The cucumber tasted mostly of dill, and the addition of lettuce didn't really help the egg sandwich.  The chicken, ham and smoked salmon were fine but not particularly special.  The bread was either brown or white, which showed a disappointing lack of variety. 24/30

The scones were served warm and either fruit or plain.  Again, we could have as many as we liked (although none of us could manage more than two).  They came with cream and either strawberry jam or lemon curd.  They were average scones (a little "cakey") but we liked having the option of the lemon curd as well as the traditional jam and cream, though we had mixed opinions on whether we liked the taste of the lemon curd. 24/30

For some reason, the cakes were split into two courses - a selection of pastries, followed by a choice of "signature cake" from the sweet trolley.  There were six different pastries to chose from and there was a good selection, including a lavender eclair, a chocolate and coffee opera cake, raspberry and lime macaroon and a mini strawberry tart.  They were mostly good and this was probably the best course of the four.  After this, Mo and Charlotte both chose a slice of Victoria sponge and Caroline had the fruit cake.  This was the most disappointing part of the afternoon.  The Victoria sponge was particularly bad.  It was very dense, much more the consistency of a lemon drizzle cake or a tea bread.  The fruit cake wasn't good either, and tasted mostly of mixed peel.  As we're scoring both lots of cakes together the disappointing "signature cakes" have brought down the score from the pastries which we enjoyed. 21/30

The atmosphere at The Savoy was pleasant and calm and we were not rushed at all. The room is beautiful and the hotel in general has a sense of elegance and style that fits in well with the tradition of taking afternoon tea.  The service was attentive at first but then rather patchy. We found it a bit confusing that we seemed at first to be encouraged to allow the staff to pour the tea etc for us but then later on those staff were nowhere to be found and we weren't able to serve ourselves. It's also worth noting that an "So are you enjoying yourself? Do you like it?" enquiry from staff is nowhere near as helpful or professional as a "Can I help? Do you require anything further?".

Overall, we found The Savoy was a disappointment.  Admittedly part of our disappointment is due to the high expectations we had. We were expecting it to be excellent but it didn't reach that standard.  It was certainly good, and far better than some of the places we've been to, but it wasn't outstanding. This is a lovely afternoon tea (and Caroline definitely had a lovely birthday tea), but considering the cost (the most expensive tea we've had yet) and thinking of others that we've been to, you may be better off paying less elsewhere.

Pros                                                                                             Cons
Lovely venue                                                                         Expensive
Good selection of of teas                                                    Patchy service
Interesting pastries                                                             Poor "signature cakes"


8 out of 10