Reviewed by Ellie – My First Ever Afternoon Tea
Hi, I’m Ellie and I’m an afternoon tea virgin.
Yep, you read that right, I’ve never had afternoon tea before. A struggling, skint university student – you’re much more likely to find me stuffing my face with cheesy chips at 3am in the morning than enjoying dainty finger sandwiches and cream scones.
It is high time I got a bit more sophisticated and sampled this iconic afternoon treat. So today I donned a posh(ish) frock and treated my mum, Sue, to tea at The Black Swan in the beautiful little village of Helmsley, North Yorkshire (I may have forgotten her birthday… I may have also needed a lift there).
Catherine, our waitress, was incredibly polite and smiley and we were promptly seated in the cosy tearoom, just off from the main hotel. With mismatched bone china teacups and tiny little cake forks this was exactly how I envisaged proper afternoon tea. Mum loved the décor so much she even bought one of the paintings and took it home with us.
There was a choice of twenty different teas at The Black Swan (or coffee and hot chocolate if you want to kill the tradition). Mum went for the classic Black Swan blend whilst I opted for the more adventurous Gin and Tonic tea (you can take the student out of uni, but…). Whilst it wasn’t quite a Hendrick’s, this floral white tea was light and refreshing and probably a lot better for you than five G&T’s.
Next up came the bit I’d been waiting for, the food. Three tiers of sandwiches, cakes and scones were quickly brought to our table and it all looked delicious.
The sandwiches included Free-range Hen’s Egg with Mustard Cress, Prawn & Marie Rose, Yorkshire Ham & Dijon Mustard Mayonnaise, and Cucumber with Cream Cheese & Chive on an assortment of rolls, brioches and bread with no crusts (why don’t posh people eat crusts?)
The Egg and Cress was a clear winner for me, even if it did explode all over the table as I took my first bite. Mum’s favourite was the Ham and Mustard – in Sue’s words “the perfect ratio of filling to bread, proper thick ham, and a light hint of mustard mayo”.
Mum had already declared herself full by this point, but we bravely battled on to dessert. We started off with the Passion Fruit Tart which was absolutely to die for.
The pastry was perfectly golden and crisp and the filling was almost like a crème brulée with a crispy sugar top. It was both creamy and fruity and I could have eaten about ten of them!
Second was mum’s favourite; the Mini Carrot Cake with mascarpone cream. Again, this pudding was faultless. The sponge was rich, packed with sultanas and orange zest and the cream topping was heavenly.
Next we tucked into the Chocolate Delice; a rich chocolate mousse with a crispy chocolate bottom, and orange zest cream.
This gorgeous dessert was topped with cherries which for some reason I thought were mini plums. Finally, we finished with a Red Berry Panna Cotta. Pure indulgence.
By this point I won’t lie, I was starting to struggle.
Still… a slurp or three of champagne and a quick breather and I was ready to take on the homemade scones. Both the plain and fruit scones were light and golden and the homemade strawberry jam was absolutely delicious.
My first afternoon tea was everything I had anticipated and more. It sure beats pasta with Tesco Value tomato sauce five nights on the trot. The service was exceptional and all the food was incredible. Indulgent, classic and absolutely scrumptious.
Many thanks to the Black Swan for a fabulous time – I could get used to this.
Afternoon Tea is available from £21.95 per person and changes seasonally to make the best use of the fresh, local produce available. Click HERE to find out more.