I have been a big fan of Waterloo Tea since I discovered it several years ago. At their Teahouse, a wide selection of the worlds finest teas and coffees are on offer, the work of local artists is on exhibit (available for purchase as well), and homemade cakes and light lunches are available. Waterloo Tea has one draw back; they do not have a license to cook food on the premises so the lunch menu is limited to mainly sandwiches and salads.
Enter stage right Washington Tea! Washington Tea is the sister teahouse in Penarth which opened in June 2013. You can find the same great tea, coffee and cake as you find in Waterloo Tea but Washington Tea has a liquor license and the license to cook. Now having the ability to provide hot food, owner Kasim Ali hired Chef Joe Rowson who worked at Le Gallois in Cardiff and was Head Chef at Arboreal in Cowbridge. To take advantage of having a highly skilled Chef, Washington Gardens offers fortnightly supper clubs. Mr. A and I were delighted when Kasim invited us to Washington Gardens for a supper club. The supper club can accommodate about 30 people with the evening beginning at 19:30 and the first course being served at 20:00. For £35.00 you receive a 5 course meal paired with teas of different origins. As Washington Tea has a liquor license, you can also buy wine by the class or bottle as well.
On the night we attended, the menu was very inspired by the food of Yotam Ottolenghi: primarily vegetarian with a fusion of flavours and spices from various countries in the Middle East. You’ll find spices and condiments such as sumac which has a tart flavour, dukka an Egyptian spice blend typically containing sesame, cumin, coriander, hazelnut and salt and pomegranate molasses, a thick tangy reduction of pomegranate juice. Theses spices and condiments are used very subtly and add a nice touch to the dishes. If you have never used these spices, I think after the supper club you may be inspired to try them at home. Washington Tea also takes pride in the quality of ingredients that they use. Produce is sourced from The Organic Fresh Food Company based in Lampeter, Riverside Market Gardens in Cardiff and Tortoise Bakery which specialises in slow fermented bread.
For the first course we were served a bright and fresh organic beetroot and ginger soup with a golden beetroot and goats cheese crostini, which was paired with a Blood Orange puerh tea. This earthy tea flavoured with blood orange was a perfect complement for the earthy zingy soup.
Our second course was a flavoursome smoked trout, mackerel and saffron potato terrine served with a dill crème fraiche, caper salsa and sumac paired with Wuyi oolong tea. Wuyi has a subtle smoky finish so was a fabulous match with terrine.
The third course was squash falafel with a rainbow carrot salad seasoned with dukka, and mint yogurt, paired with a take on Moroccan mint tea. A twist on a Middle East classic dish paired with a traditional Middle Eastern tea.
The forth course was aubergine roasted with pomegranate molasses, braised pearl barley with red tomato and feta; paired with Phoenix Orchid oolong. This dish was a balance between earthy aubergine, salty cheese and sweet pomegranate and was paired with a rich tea with notes of honey and lychee.
Finally for dessert, we had Braeburn and almond tart served with ice cream, and paired with an iced sparkling hibiscus infusion. A lovely way to end the evening.
There are many things I enjoyed about the supper club: they use spices that are not typically used in Britain, a vibrant and fresh menu, the friendly staff who were really excited and knowledgeable about the menu and tea pairings, the buzz from the diners as they discovered new flavours in food and tea, and of course having each course paired with a tea. I have quite a collection of tea from Waterloo Tea in my house and I learned quite a lot in the evening for me to start pairing teas with my meals.
Penarth store details:
1-3 Washington Buildings
T: 029 2070 9158
We invited to supper club as guests of Washington Tea and as such our meals were complimentary.