At the risk of conforming to gender stereotypes, it’s easy to think that afternoon tea is synonymous with days out with the girls, hen parties and ladies’ outings for special occasions – but Cardiff’s Laguna Kitchen and Bar at the Park Plaza is challenging the norm with the latest addition to their offering: Gentlemen’s Afternoon Tea.
Unfortunately my gentleman, Mr W, was unavailable, so a non-gentleman friend and I popped in to try this innovative new take on the traditionally refined afternoon tea. We were not disappointed!
A while ago, I tried a twist on the Park Plaza’s traditional cream tea when they offered the Pretty in Pink Afternoon Tea, but this was totally different! First up was a fantastic selection of mini savoury dishes. We immediately noticed a difference from the more traditional afternoon tea in that our ‘nibbles’ were served on separate platters, rather than a sharing platter, or cake stand, as is normally the case with afternoon tea – maybe a subtle nod to the fact that most gentlemen would perhaps not be quite as au fait with afternoon tea protocols as their female counterparts!
Our savoury course included a chorizo Scotch egg with Bloody Mary mayonnaise, seared Welsh sirloin steak with caramelised onions and garlic mushroom on toasted ciabatta, Severn and Wye smoked salmon blini with dill crème fraiche and caviar, mini Brecon venison burger with juniper berry and redcurrant mayonnaise, a miniature prawn cocktail shot and roast sirloin of Welsh beef and horseradish stuffed Yorkshire pudding. It was great to see so many local ingredients on show, and it was also lovely that the chef has managed to successfully create a miniature take on so many different dishes. My personal favourites were the Scotch egg which was absolutely delicious (chorizo and runny egg is a winning combination for me!) and the smoked salmon blini, thanks to a hint of sweetness in the blini itself which was a lovely contrast with the salty caviar and fragrant dill that seasoned the salmon. My only very small issue with the combination of the dishes was the amount of red meat on the plate: two beef and one venison option made for a very rich plate of food, and it might have been nice to have had some chicken or even something else pig-related on the plate – but you couldn’t fault any of the dishes, and I loved the innovation. I also loved the fact it wasn’t sandwich overload, as is so often the case with afternoon tea (albeit you rarely have to deal with crusts!)
The sweet options were pared back compared with a more traditional afternoon tea – again, perhaps an acknowledgement that gentlemen have a less sweet tooth than ladies (although personally I’m unsure if there’s any truth in this!) – but what they lacked in quantity they more than made up for in quality! A warm chocolate fondant with a liquid centre (which remained warm and liquid despite being brought to the table at the same time as our savoury course) with a generous amount of clotted cream and a rum baba filled with Chantilly cream and raspberries. Rum babas are all too rare on restaurant menus so it was great to try this one and I just wish it had been bigger (but that’s just me being greedy!)
The menu price of £18.95 per person includes a choice of speciality teas or freshly brewed coffees, and we (somewhat childishly) picked the two teas with the most amusing names: Iron Lady of Mercy in my case, and Hairy Monkey in my friend’s. My friend loves speciality teas and really enjoyed hers; I’m less keen but really enjoyed mine as well so it was an excellent choice.
I really enjoyed the Gentlemen’s Afternoon Tea. I felt less full up afterwards than I would with a traditional one as I think there were (very marginally!) less carbs involved, and there was a lot more variety. If what you love about afternoon tea is the plethora of cakes and scones, then this wouldn’t be for you, but if you enjoy tasty morsels of lots of different things, it would be right up your street. Can I see two or more gentlemen going along together as part of a stag do or boys’ weekend away? I’m not sure I can, but if you’re a lady who is trying to get your gentleman to accompany you for afternoon tea and he’s reluctant, the option of something slightly less girly may be the push he needs. Failing that, challenge those gender stereotypes and get together with the girls for something a bit different!
Laguna Kitchen and Bar, Park Plaza Cardiff, Greyfriars Road, Cardiff CF10 3AL