Monday, 24 February 2020

Donna and Mags do afternoon tea #1

 Everybody needs a partner in crime, metaphorically speaking. I realise that I am very blessed to have many co-conspirators, and here is one the best! Donna and I met when our older boys were great friends at the start of primary school, and here we still are: deciding to work our way through 2020 with a tour of local afternoon teas. Sandra, I don't think we'll top your Titanic experience, but we'll have a good go!
On Saturday, we braved the elements and headed slightly north of our little suburb to Carrickfergus. The most important thing you can do in Carrickfergus is visit what is possibly the UK's finest example of a Norman Castle. Apparently the quirkiest thing to do in Carrickfergus is visit the old gas works museum, but I've not done that... yet. We, however, headed to the Loughshore Hotel which is a huge monstrosity of a place on the outskirts of the town, beside a much nicer little M&S food hall. We were hoping not to judge this book by ts cover.
The food was lovely. Tiny warm quiches that were delicious. Sandwiches with generous, if extremely plain fillings, and very small scones. My appreciation is in descending order.

The little scones were delicious, and there was certainly an enormous amount of cream available, but I think that they should have had full sized, adult scones, given that the sandwiches were just a tad uninspiring. What was great, however, was the amount of fresh strawberries.Overall the bottom layer of a savoury course was a bit too meagre for me. We booked for 2pm, and my morning bowl of porridge was well digested by then, so I would have liked a slightly more substantial "real" food offering before devouring the desserts!  
The toffee profiterole didn't last long enough to be photographed, but here are the other desserts. Possibly defrosted and therefore a bit too soft? Not the macarons though; they were wonderful, as macarons always are. Then there was a top layer of too many chocolates. Perhaps you feel that there can never be too many chocolates. It is a standing joke in this house (and my place of work) that I don't like chocolate. I don't, particularly. Certainly by the time we had eaten absolutely everything (including all the chocolates), I did feel that I had overdosed on sugar, but would still have been able to eat something tasty and filling and scone-like, with some of that left-over cream.
What put me off the most though, was indeed the setting. There is a very interesting frieze of Belfast in the entrance hall, but the tea itself was served in the main restaurant. This felt a bit odd, because lots of families were finishing their carvery lunches, and when they had all been and gone, we were left with the good folk clearing away counters and dishes. We did feel out of place. We moved out to the seating area at the front of the hotel with our tea and glasses of fizz, and there was much more of a relaxed atmosphere there. We could even watch a lovely wedding unfold!
Lessons learned:
Brush your hair before letting anyone take your picture.
£15 is very good value when it includes a glass of fizz, but you can't drink the fizz if you're driving so look for something that might cost the same, without the fizz, and give you more on the cake stand.
Look for somewhere that can let you sit in a nice, relaxed coffee area, or somewhere with a nice view from the window, or plants.

And finally, marks out of ten? Well, Donna would have gone to 6 but I think I might stop at 5. It was super fun being out with a good friend, with hours to sit and catch up, and the food was lovely. They did also very happily refill my pot of peppermint tea. I think however that the setting could have been made nicer, and I am looking forward to more interesting sandwiches and bigger scones next time. Donna, diaries out...


GretchenJoanna said...

You are so funny! When I saw the first picture after the title of "doing tea" I laughed out loud because there was no food or tea in sight, and I thought you were very original with your broad definition of Tea.

But your whole review of the outing and the restaurant was enjoyable and instructive. VERY inelegant and on the other hand not homey, either, to leave you with the cleaners-up. When I visit we won't go there.

How are you doing with The Lily etc? I am in the introduction. XO

Donna said...

👍👍👍good review !!
Looking forward to the next tasting conference😁

Lisa Richards said...

Well, I'm hungry, as usual. So, it looked pretty good to me. But I certainly understand your wanting more substantial scones, lol! :)

Kezzie said...

Oooh, I finally get to see you in a picture (but which one are you!? Blond or dark haired!??!?!!)
The tea looks good but I would have struggled like you with the too-much sweet. I LOVE the sandwiches and savoury parts best and I would struggled with the rest, esp scones which always make me feel slightly sick so I tend to avoid them! The price seems quite good!!

M.K. said...

I waited until I could read every word ... rather like enjoying every bite ... of your post and really listen. Sounds like a delightful time with a friend! I can tolerate an item or two for an afternoon tea that don't particularly appeal to me, but the setting (the atmosphere) must be perfect! It's the atmosphere that really matters after all, that you remember. I prefer very warm, cozy, old-world settings for a tea.
Is that lemon curd in that tart? That looks yummy. I hope you do more teas and share them with us.
And by the way, you look very pretty with your hair down like that. It looks perfect and brushed. You often wear it up, but it gives you a lovely soft look to wear it down. I need to listen to that advice myself.

Pom Pom said...

I agree about the atmosphere. I loved a little tea shop my sisters, mom and I visited but it was fifty dollars per person. Gasp! You look cute and your hair is so pretty! love love love you!