You can never have too much cake. Or can you? Meeting up with a group of friends at the picturesque setting of Pettigrew Tea Rooms had been highly anticipated, but would it provide a fairy-tale or a fairly lame experience?
You’ve got to look for the positives in life.
Friends moving back to their home town: sad times.
A reason to meet-up with the girls for cake: happy days! Plus, I’d always wanted to try Pettigrew Tea Rooms.
Oh, it was all so Buteful
Conveniently located in Cardiff city centre, the old 1860s West Lodge Gatehouse to Bute Park provides a suiting venue alongside the River Taff, with both outdoor and indoor seating.
As well as cake and afternoon tea, the tea room offers breakfast, brunch and lunch – seven days a week. Yep, you can have cake seven days a week! Sounds good doesn’t it?!
Afternoon tea for one will set you back £16.95, and tea for two is £29.95.
The tea room boasts homemade bread and cakes, and sourced locally ingredients.
But it was nearly flushed away in instant
I made the mistake of popping into the ladies as my first port of call… I was horrified.
There was a notice that there are renovations scheduled, but leaky toilets and wet floors is never a good look – and I’d prefer to lock my cubicle.
“The tea room has a quaint traditional British tea room feel.”
Fortunately, the charming little tea room I found on exiting dispelled any bad vibes. The glass cabinet cake display looked magnificent – showing off some seriously impressive baking!
The tea room has a quaint traditional British tea room feel, with antique furniture and china crockery, bowls of sugar cubes, bunting, and vintage tea-themed paraphernalia. However, the multitude of modern looking pictures that adorned the walls did confuse the experience somewhat.
Sandwiches, and lots of them
Once we were shown to our table upstairs, our waitress handed out menus and explained how tea was to be served. We would choose our drink, which would accompany our sandwiches and a scone. Later we could make an order for cake, one choice each.
Fourteen different teas were on offer, or alternatively you could have coffee or a cold drink (primarily traditional type lemonades, juices or water). It was a relief they offered an alternative. It was absolutely roasting, and I just needed water (bottled – but they do supply tap).
Customers can choose their sandwich fillings and bread type (granary, white or mixed), which is the first time I have come across this at a tea room. An excellent idea, especially given the eight available filling varieties, and dairy free, gluten free and vegan options were also offered on request.
“The bread was as fresh and light as you like, and the fillings generous.”
Given that we were a party of eight, we opted for the ‘chef’s selection’, which basically provided a bit of everything – chicken; beef; brie and chutney; egg mayo; cheese and tomato; cucumber and cream cheese; smoked salmon and cream cheese; and ham and cheese. It was all served on a tiered tea plate.
Seriously good sandwiches. The bread was as fresh and light as you like, and the fillings generous. I was also pleased to see that the egg was free range and the brie organic. Mr. B.B. doesn’t buy into the whole ‘organic thing’ (“it’s just a marketing con”), but I think more effort should be made to use organic ingredients – and maybe Pettigrew could extend their organic offering and serve free-range chicken in their sandwiches, too.
For those that took tea, they each received a decent size pot – certainly enough to see you through an hour of cake scoffing.
Time for cake… and CAKE
The top tier of our plate was occupied by scones. There were served with quality strawberry jam (nice chunky strawberry bits!), clotted cream and butter, presented beautifully with fresh strawberry pieces, blueberries and mini-meringues.
Although a little on the small side (a slight relief given I was already pushing the limits of fullness following the mountain of sandwiches I’d consumed), the scones, served warm, were perfect. A slight crunch to the outside, light and delicate inside – and taken to another level by simply dusting with icing sugar. Even without the cream and jam (nope, I couldn’t either), you would no doubt munch through a few of these quite happily.
And then it was time for the grand finale…
We were offered a slice of a cake of our choice from the mouth-watering creations in the display cabinet. But this is where it all went wrong for me.
“It’s a bit of a tease to have all these wonderful cakes available… but you’re only allowed to try one.”
Afternoon tea is not sandwiches, a delicate scone, a nice cuppa and then…a massive slab of overly sweet dense cake that I cannot finish and must take home in box! Where was the traditional selection of dainty bite-size treats?
It’s a bit of a tease to have all these wonderful cakes available – twelve alternatives in total – but you’re only allowed to try one. Maybe it’s a ploy to keep you coming back?
I also think offering some lighter choices would be a welcome alternative – perhaps a meringue or pastry, maybe a fruit tart…
With a bit more variety, perhaps I would have avoided that sickly feeling from overindulging in one sweet thing.
My peach melba cake was actually pretty good, but it was too heavy and overwhelming.
I did try a mouthful of the chocolate and beetroot cake and the coffee and walnut cake – again, tasty enough – but I would have struggled through a slice of either.
I left Pettigrew tea rooms feeling a little disappointed, and with mixed opinions. It’s in a lovely location, offers quality fresh home made food and great service, and is not too pricey. I would certainly like to return (maybe once the toilets have been renovated), but I’ll be sticking to savoury. I’m all caked out!