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Mother’s Day is fast approaching take note all those who are as disorganised as myself and as I find myself standing in front of another stand filled to the brim with greetings cards, I ask myself. Do I go for slosh or funk?
When I was young there was nothing more exciting than preparing for the new school year every summer. A new pencil case, new shiny pens to put inside it and fresh notepads with no graffiti or scribbles in sight.
Now I’m an adult, the focus is more on the New Year celebrations BUT it’s harder to turn over a new leaf and get lots of new things when you’re only a week past Christmas. Money is usually sparse and morale is low for the dark month of January.
So why not keep the bonus fresh start that existed as a child anticipating a new beginning every September? It’s sunny outside, we have lots more energy and we aren’t paying off hundreds of gifts to relatives we barely see.
But I have no need for a new pencil case these days. At the ripe old age of 33, I have more free pens than I can seem to use up and I still don’t have use for a compass (what was the point in that?). I’m currently pregnant and with my size is changing, clothes shopping is a chore for me. So what then?
Just past the knicker aisle then turn right at the gentleman’s slacks and you’ll find a place for tea
I am being completely serious. M&S are renowned for many things including tasty premade sandwiches and good quality food products. So if you happen to be in the throes of an intense shopping spree and acquire a craving for Afternoon Tea, then an M&S Café is sure to be something worth considering.
Arriving in the café it was easy to see the poster advertising the Afternoon Tea. Giving it a quick glance over and then heading straight to the till and ordering. “Plain or cheese scone?” I was asked and also “Classic or vegetarian sandwich selection?”
Questions answered, I was given a hot pot of tea with cup, saucer and milk jug to take with me immediately and also a table number to display when I choose where to sit.
Sugars, cutlery and napkins are something you have to pick up yourself but hey, it’s no biggie really, is it?
When the tea stand arrived (which it did promptly) it was perfectly pretty and elegant to look at. Sandwiches on the top tier, scones in the middle and cakes on the bottom.
Sandwich selection came in four varieties:
Egg and cress
Beef and horseradish
Ham and cheese
Smoked salmon and cream cheese
Although they looked different in shape from the classic triangle M&S sandwiches you pick up in the lunch section of the food hall, they were undoubtedly M&S sandwiches. Fresh, tasty enough and very pleasant chunky oblongs to eat.
For the scones I chose plain. I am not a huge cheese scone lover and not sure if it’s something I’ve ever seen on an Afternoon Tea menu before, but worth noting that M&S offer those if that tickles your fancy (and they’ve run out of fruit).
With the scones came an individual mini jar of M&S strawberry jam and a pot of clotted cream. I’m not sure if it’s the regular way of presenting the clotted cream but my cream pot was still in a cling film wrap with a food dating sticker on it. Not that it took much effort to unpeel but it did look a bit unappetising and made me feel like I was unwrapping airplane food.
Aside from that though, the portion of cream and jam was generous for the scone and made for a very extravagant affair. Scone was nice, a little crumbly but still buttery and definitely no nasty surprises. The M&S strawberry jam was lovely.
The cake selection came as a selection of three minis:
These could have been (and probably were) just unpacked from the M&S food hall. In fact I recognised all three as things I’ve eaten before at home. That’s not a slight though. M&S produce great food for a great price. The Strawberry macaron was lovely as was the super moist mini cupcake. The profiterole was just that. Neither wow nor disappointment, just a lovely single profiterole filled with cream.
So there’s no frills, fancy table linens or famous chefs behind the scenes but there’s a casual café ease that you could visit in any given mood and feel comfortable. The kind of place you could take your Mum or Nan and earn sure fire brownie points with very little legwork or purse damage.
Something to note. As most eateries require at least 24 hour notice for an Afternoon Tea booking, perhaps M&S café has got itself the perfect niche. You can walk in on any given day and order an Afternoon Tea at the till which will be presented to your table within minutes, pretty three tiered tea stand and all. Fast, efficient and for £12.95 for two, that’s brilliant value for the savvy tea lover.