Thursday, 25th August, 2016 – Ro
On the back of a visit to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon to see Anthony Sher in King Lear (the second Lear of three in 2016 for us with Michael Pennington’s take at the Royal and Derngate Theatre already behind us and Glenda Jackson’s stage comeback still to come at The Old Vic in December), and as we’d also opted to go to the director’s talk beforehand to hear what Greg Doran had to say about the play, we’d realised that getting dinner would have to be pushed back to after the performance. With that in mind we decided we would treat ourselves to afternoon tea in the theatre’s Rooftop Restaurant.
We parked up and arrived in good time, stopping off at the box office to collect the tickets for the talk first and then made our way to the third floor. We were seated by the windows overlooking the Avon, and were thus entertained by watching opportunistic swans ganging up on narrowboat owners to demand food with menaces, and settled in for a pleasant hour or so enjoying the vista and the Deutz Champagne High Tea.
The Champagne arrived promptly, and was followed by a cake stand containing some of the prettiest little cakes, a batch of scones and a selection of sandwiches. We launched into the sandwiches straight away, starting with the Chicken Caesar on white, which was much tastier than most chicken sandwiches, though what followed was much better. the roast beef and horseradish benefitted enormously from being on wholemeal bread, and the egg mayonnaise with cress was tasty enough to overcome the fact that it was on white bread which doesn’t tend to taste of much. I’d saved the best till last with the Coln valley smoked salmon, cucumber and cream cheese on granary providing everything you might want in a smoked salmon sandwich.
The tea arrived (a vanilla chai for me) and then the fire alarms all went off and we had to evacuate the building. We all stood around outside for a quarter of an hour while the building was checked and were eventually let back in when the staff and firemen had established that there was something triggering an alarm somewhere in the basement though no one knew why. We settled back in and the staff came round to ask if there was anything else we needed. We asked for another round of the Champagne and were told that not only would the drinks be on the house, but that we would only be charged for one of the two teas to make up for the interruption. I thought it was very well handled as well as very generous.
The tea had kept remarkably well during the interruption, and was still hot enough to drink so we just settled for a fresh glass each of Champagne and went back to our scones. They were obviously freshly baked with that lovely slightly crunch crust and fluffy interior you get on the best scones (and something I can’t recreate myself no matter how often I try). The strawberry jam was a good one, and the clotted cream was still holding up also despite the delay. I’d have liked more of it is my only complaint!
After that it was on to the cake level, where we were presented with a half dozen tiny cakes each. These were – in order (from left to right):
A raspberry macaroon (it was indeed very strongly raspberry flavoured), a passion fruit and white chocolate Madeleine (which was gooey with white chocolate ganache shot through with vanilla and altogether delicious), an Opera cake (probably the weakest element actually), a strawberry tartlet (beautifully short pastry base, lovely fresh strawberries, lots of creme anglaise), a pistachio and orange gluten free cake (moist, crumbly, nutty), and a blackberry and elderflower jelly (refreshing with a very tart blackberry at its heart).
And by then, with all the tea drunk and nothing but crumbs to show where we’d been, we paid up (£21 which was much less than expected and thus meant I could buy some books in the RSC shop) and left, happy and impressed with the food, the service and the ambience.