Thanna-7th-ducess-of-bedfordere is something civilised about an afternoon tea. Something traditional. The tradition is supposed to date back to the early 19th century when the usual habit, still seen in parts of the Continent, was to serve dinner at around 9.00pm.

Anna, 7th Duchess of Bedford, started ‘snacking’ to stave off late afternoon hunger.  Soon, after inviting her friends to join in, the practice spread and it became to norm to sip tea and nibble a sandwich in the middle of the afternoon.

As time and society has moved on the formal afternoon tea of dainty sandwiches, scones, cakes and pastries with pots of tea served in bone china cups, has become the domain of the hotels and cafes looking to capture people in search of a few minutes of escapism.

Of course dainty sandwiches and cups that require the extension of the ‘pinkie’ finger are all good fun but sometimes we wish for something a bit more substantial.

That’s why I was delighted when Laguna Kitchen and Bar at the Park Plaza emailed to tell me about their “Gentlemen’s Afternoon Tea”.  Out goes the tiny finger sandwiches and in comes a mini venison burger.  Bye bye scone, hello chorizo Scotch egg! Say ta ta to the macaroons and welcome to the sirloin stuffed Yorkshire pudding.

Would I like to pop in and try it?  You bet a Severn & Wye smoked salmon blini with dill crème fraiche and caviar I would.

Which is how I found myself, in the company of my friend Peter, enjoying a rather different type of afternoon tea a few Friday afternoons ago.

Now I should probably make it clear that although Laguna bill this as ‘a masculine twist on the traditionally feminine afternoon past time’ in no way is this a men only thing. In fact they are right up front about saying “It’s definitely not just for gentlemen either – we believe it will also appeal to ladies looking for an alternative to cupcakes and puff pastries.”  So there you go, all are welcome.

Also if you partake of the Gentlemen’s Afternoon Tea during June then they will donate 8% of the cost to the Velindre Cancer Centre and as both my parents received excellent care during visits there, that’s a big plus in my book.

OK let’s talk about the tea itself.  It comes sitting on two pieces of slate, one for the savoury and one for the sweet.  A visual feast in itself.

Gentlemen's Afternoon Tea - Savoury Dishes

Gentlemen’s Afternoon Tea – Savoury Dishes

Savoury first and we have (anti-clockwise from the bottom left)

  • Miniature prawn cocktail shot
  • Severn & Wye smoked salmon blini with dill crème fraiche & caviar
  • Chorizo Scotch egg with Bloody Mary mayonnaise
  • Seared Welsh sirloin steak with caramelised red onions & garlic mushrooms on toasted ciabatta
  • Mini Brecon Venison burger with juniper berry & red currant mayonnaise
  • Roast sirloin of Welsh Beef and horseradish stuffed Yorkshire pudding

Without going into intricate detail about everything it was all really good.  I really liked the freshness of the prawn cocktail; which came as a surprise as I’m not the world’s biggest shellfish fan.  The chorizo Scotch egg was great and the sirloin on toasted ciabatta had a real depth of flavour.  The only negatives were that by the time I got to it, the Yorkshire pudding was cold and a bit claggy and the brioche bun on the venison burger was a trifle dry. The venison burger itself was nice and juicy though and the seared sirloin was served nice and pink.

Chorizo Scotch egg with Bloody Mary mayonnaise

Chorizo Scotch egg with Bloody Mary mayonnaise

Seared Welsh sirloin steak with caramelised red onions & garlic mushrooms on toasted ciabatta

Seared Welsh sirloin steak with caramelised red onions & garlic mushrooms on toasted ciabatta

By now I’m beginning to realise why this is billed as a more masculine afternoon tea, as there is quite a lot of food here.  Nevertheless I take a deep breath and move over to the sweet slate.

Gentlemen's Afternoon Tea - The Sweet Selection

Gentlemen’s Afternoon Tea – The Sweet Selection

Here we find a Rum Baba filled with Chantilly cream & raspberries and a Warm chocolate fondant with Clotted Cream.  Its many years since I had a Rum Baba and even longer since I had a decent one that didn’t taste of rum flavouring.  Fortunately this one doesn’t, it’s ‘ruminess’ being quite subtle.  In fact both Peter and I felt that it could have done with a bit more of a kick to it. I do have to drive home afterwards though so maybe that was for the best.  The chocolate fondant was lovely and rich, and soft of centre. It did suffer a little of the same fate as the Yorkshire though in the fact, that as it had been sitting on the table since the start of the meal, it wasn’t really warm by the time I got to it.  However, that being said it still delivered on the chocolate flavour and managed a decent ooze as I cut into it. The clotted cream really ramps up the richness factor and makes this a very indulgent end to the tea.

Overall I was impressed by my Gentlemen’s Afternoon Tea.  At £18.95 a head it delivers both in terms of flavour and value for money (something the Laguna seems to be pretty good at if their Chef’s Table is anything to go by).  In fact I’d suggest that you skip lunch if you’re planning on indulging as this is quite a lot of food. I didn’t need to eat again that day.

Oh and don’t forget if you book for June (booking is essential) you’ll also be supporting Velindre!

In a word, “Delightful!”

Laguna Kitchen and Bar
Park Plaza Hotel
Greyfriars Road
Cardiff
CF10 3AL

Restaurant Tel: 02920 111 103
Email: lagunarestaurant@parkplazahotels.co.uk

 

We were invited to try the Gentlemen’s Afternoon Tea as guests of the Park Plaza and as such all food and drink was complimentary.

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