It’s National Afternoon Tea Week! Yes you heard that right, afternoon tea now has a whole week dedicated to it. Even though I would dedicate almost everyday to this English delight, I’ve no idea where all these National/International weeks/days are popping up from. Just two weeks ago it was International Cat Day. It was.
Anyway as you’ll realise by now if you know or follow me, I love tea, and afternoon tea! You may have noticed this is my 4th post in under a year regarding afternoon tea, and may I say that isn’t nearly enough!
The perfect form of dining for myself, a very slow and very small eater, afternoon tea is ideal. Traditionally a selection of dainty sandwiches, scones, cakes and pastries served on a tiered stand that you leisurely nibble from while discussing the worlds rights and wrongs.
So what better way to celebrate national afternoon tea week than to tell you about my most recent experience at one of my favourite venues, The Assembly House Norwich.
I’ve been to The Assembly House on quite a few occasions, yes I’ve had afternoon tea there a few times! I’ve also had lunches and teas.
The Assembly House are known for frequently changing their afternoon tea menu dependant on season, and often have a theme for the tea (I’ve been to their Christmas one before and it was amazing!). These changes are probably what keeps bringing their customers back, I know it does me, along with the remarkable service.
The first week of August in the UK was Pride, a celebration where the LGBTQ+ community (plus everyone else) get together to celebrate people’s differences.
In honour and to celebrate this The Assembly House created and served a limited edition (around 10 days I think) Rainbow Unicorn Afternoon Tea! Cake, rainbows, unicorns, tea, celebrating people’s uniqueness, I had to go!
The magnificent Assembly House built in the 18th century is a grand Georgian treasure situated in Norwich’s busy city centre. Although a grade 1 listed building I have never had any access issues. I haven’t yet explored the whole of the building, but both entrances are easily accessed, with the main entrance having had a ramp permanently installed to enable its wheel using customers to freely access the house without having to rely on assistance or ask for a ramp.
Situated within meters of the city’s hustle and bustle, a modern shopping centre, restaurants, theatre and library only a few steps away, there is a brilliant juxtaposition created. Once in the idyllic gardens of The Assembly House you can hardly hear a sound, yet you are right in the centre of all the buzz if you wish to explore.
I arrived just before my friend. Well maybe not just. We are polar opposites when it comes to timekeeping. I hate being late, am always early, possibly a little too early most of the time, but being a life long planner and always having to rely on others to get me to my destination there will be no changing me now! My friend is notoriously late (sorry but you are!), she does have a four month old so we must give her a little slack. But what I’m saying is she was always late before becoming a busy Mum. There’s no changing her either. I must say here (so I don’t get in trouble) that there have been occasions, actually more so since having a mini person, that she has arrived at the destination before me. But let’s just say that’s rare!
On this occasion it was just the two of us dining, although there were many cute little rainbow unicorn children attending, four months is a little young to appreciate the fabulousness of it all.
Get to food I hear you saying, ok.
It was amazing and delicious and oh so cute! But I’ll get to that in just a minute. First I need to introduce you to Barry.
Barry is a magnificent unicorn cake made by Great British Bake Off contestant (and fellow Norfolk-er) Kate Barmby.
Barry was available in the grand hallway of The Assembly House during the whole festivities for selfies. You could take a selfie with Barry and post it to social media with the relevant #AhRainbowUnicornTea to be entered into a competition to win a Halloween themed afternoon tea during October. So obviously this is what we did! Although with all the cute girlie selfies I’ve seen, wearing unicorn horns and glitter, I wouldn’t choose us!
I don’t know what’s happened to Barry, as much as I’d like to have a taste, I wouldn’t want to be the one chopping him up!
We had plenty of cakes to work through today anyway! On to the tasty stuff!
Once ready we were shown to our table by a very welcoming waiter. The elegant, square, marble table was at perfect height for me to wheel underneath however because of the sculpted central leg and the fact that the table was small, seating 2-4 my feet did hit the leg. The waiter must have noticed as he said ‘can be tricky but all the tables have central legs’ but with a little manoeuvring, once at the correct angle I could manage to reach the table fine.
The table was set simple yet pretty, no cloth, the marble showing, one simple flower head in water, our plates with an exciting looking menu rolled up. I couldn’t wait to have a peek. Up until now, other than a few promotional photographs, the menu had been a secret.
Rather than explain the menu to you, here it is for your perusal.
Asked which teas we would like, my friend went for The Assembly House blend, me opting for the same but in decaf. Keeping it traditional as we knew they’d be enough enticing flavours coming up. The tea arrived steaming hot, loose leaf of course so we had to remember to use the strainers, us common folk used to a tea bag and mug!
Wow. The food made its grand entrance, brought to us on a three tiered stand. The waiter explained our delights like an enchanting performance. Informing us that the bottom two tiers were savoury, the top sweet, and at whatever point we were ready to just ask and our warm scones would be served. Yum, I’ve always been served all the food at once previously, this just added to the luxury.
We started with the finger sandwiches. Coronation chicken on a light malted bread, my favourite, I’m a huge fan of coronation chicken. Cream cheese and cucumber on soft white, an afternoon tea classic, simple yet delicious. Norfolk ham on malted, the ham was so tender (I can be very fussy with meat), I didn’t have a problem breaking the sandwich up with a fork.
I then moved on to the brioche roll with egg mayonnaise, which was very tasty but I was becoming quite full by this stage and knew I still had a lot to get through so I didn’t quite finish this, but made sure I had a taste of everything!
Next was a cornet of smoked salmon mousse, very smooth and light with a crisp case.
The generous beings they are at The Assembly House we were asked by a waiter if we would like anymore sandwiches, although I wanted to say yes I had to decline, I needed to leave space for the amazing sounding cakes! My friend did however cave in and they brought her out one more of each finger sandwich.
Requesting our scones, they arrived within minutes, warm to the touch. Two each, one cheese, Colman’s mustard and chive, the other a classic fruit scone, served with chunks of butter, Norfolk strawberry jam (that had edible glitter in!!) and clotted cream.
So full, yet determined to have a bit of everything I started by just eating half of each scone. Both scones were amazing, the jam very fruity but lost its sparkle a bit once spread, not that I’m complaining. I have to say though my scone of choice would be the cheese!
What we’ve all be waiting for, the cakes.
They were all extremely delicious and enchanting. Brightly coloured, magical, sweet yet light.
Here they are, individually photographed in all their glory.
I think my favourite had to be ‘Head In The Clouds’, it was so refreshing and zingy. I like things that can be a little tart. It was served with a tiny spoon but also had a straw in the posset which held up the chewy candyfloss and sugar unicorn.
Beaten by my child size appetite I decided to ask for some of the cakes to be boxed for me to fully enjoy later. My remaining scone halves were also boxed, not wanting to waste a bite.
Just before I left, after all those cups of tea, I had to visit the ladies. Well accessible toilet, there’s no such thing as ladies when you’re a wheeler, we all share!
You can find out how accessible it is here.
I highly recommend visiting and dining at this Norwich gem. The afternoon tea was and always is delicious, and the service friendly, welcoming and of high quality. I hope to be going to the Halloween Afternoon Tea whether I win or not, so stay tuned for a review!
If you love an afternoon tea, or fancy giving one a go, why not attend their Great British Garden Party on bank holiday Monday, 28th August 2017. Where as well as a traditional fete style party there will be a limited edition, one day only, Great British Afternoon Tea.
Photo Credits: Hannah and myself