From a 20-year-old carrot cake recipe to a morning twist on the delectable experience, Julia Bryce takes a look at how venues across the area serve up their very own afternoon tea experience.
When you think of afternoon tea, you’ll envision a three-tier stand filled with delicious cakes, homemade scones and dainty sandwiches, not to mention a large pot of tea or coffee on the side.
What you won’t have imagined, is dining out for breakfast and enjoying morning tea, a trend which Ross Turriff, owner of Dundee-based Jessie’s Kitchen, says is becoming increasingly popular in venues across Scotland.
Lined with an array of goods you’d expect to enjoy as a morning pick-me-up, Ross says the balance of sweet and savoury is what makes this newer trend so attractive.
He said: “As well as afternoon tea we offer a morning tea, too. It was really popular before lockdown, and now we’re back open it has really taken off again. Morning tea boasts sweet and savoury – it’s a three-tier stand with bacon brioche rolls, waffles, granola, berry compote, scones, tray bakes, a bowl of fruit, unlimited tea or coffee and fresh orange or apple juice as well. It’s a real morning feast and isn’t as sweet as your traditional afternoon tea.”
Reopening for sit-in
Offering takeaway afternoon tea for collection throughout the lockdown period, Ross, who runs the business with his wife Jacquie, is delighted they have finally been able to reopen their doors. However, has continued to offer takeaway for guests not quite ready to embrace eating out.
Taking precautions to ensure staff and customers are kept safe, Jessie’s Kitchen also now boasts a larger outdoor seating area which has been extended out into the venue’s car park.
“We’re offering both takeaway and sit-in just now. We have seating indoors and outside and although we’re slightly limited with the indoor space, we’re still offering indoor, outdoor and takeaway for collection. We’ve brought our full team back now so we’re able to offer afternoon tea every day, whereas during lockdown it was more restricted. We can now also offer our gluten-free version, our vegan version and other things we couldn’t when we had a smaller team,” said Ross.
“The demand isn’t as massive as it was during lockdown, but with more staff and less demand we can offer a wider range. Everyone is still looking for ways to treat themselves safely.
“We took out just under half of our tables. The weather was really good when we first reopened and we have lots of extra seating in our big outdoor space. We closed off a big chunk of our car park and have put out nice picnic tables. We’re lucky to be able to make use of it.
“Inside, we wanted to make sure our regular customers could visually see the impact of taking out the tables so we can make them feel safer. The rooms are well spaced and I want people to feel as safe as possible. Customers can see we’re taking it very seriously.
“With having the outdoor space we’re a bit weather reliant, but we’ve been quite lucky with it so far. We also have added an online booking system. We keep tweaking our system as we go and doing the best we can. The feedback has been really good.”
Other places for afternoon tea in Dundee
Eat Out to Help Out
Taking part in the government-funded Eat Out to Help Out scheme which was available throughout August, Ross was pleased to see so many new and regular customers pay a visit to Jessie’s Kitchen.
“Afternoon tea and morning tea were really popular throughout the Eat Out to Help Out scheme period. People were getting it for half price and I think they were really chuffed to be getting back out. It is still a lot of hard work, in a different way to lockdown. We don’t feel back in a routine just yet, but we’re just trying to keep an eye on the guidelines. It is so nice to be back up and running though.”
In Perth, George Sinclair, owner of Effies of Perth also echoed Ross’ views on the scheme, outlining that his venue was busier, too, and customers were also more inclined to spend more money as a result of the discount.
Reopening on July 15, he put numerous measures in place to operate his one-metre distanced venue as safely as possible.
He said: “We’d normally have 42 covers but just now we have 30. We serve all of our afternoon teas on china with silver teapots and silver stands. Things are going slowly – normally we’re fully booked most days and you normally can’t get a table without booking. Our regular customers are a lot older and they are the last group of people trying to come back out. That’s not been the easiest part for us. We’re a one metre zone as we don’t have enough space to be two metres.
“The Eat Out to Help Out scheme made us very busy, but people were coming to us anyway as our regular clients come all the time. Instead of having one course, they might have had three courses. It did bring people out and about again which is vital for the current situation.”
Launching the business with his late mum, Effie, more than a decade ago, family is at the heart of Effies of Perth with George’s wife and her five sisters all working at the old-fashioned tea room.
“Effies is named after my mum, Effie. She sadly passed away last year but she was the baker here and a lot of the recipes we use are her recipes. She was a true Mary Berry of the world.
“Myself and my mum started the company together. We’ve been in this location for eight years, and previously we were in a smaller location for a few years, too. All of the staff are family, my wife and her five sisters all work here – only family work within the business.”
Specialising in afternoon tea served on antique silver cake stands and on Royal Albert China, it’s the traditional dishes and the ambience of the old fashioned-inspired venue which encapsulates the experience in a unique way.
Offering up Cullen skink, Oxtail soup and more, the “bygone era” venue, is most popular for its cakes, most of which are all Effie’s recipes.
He added: “Our menu never changes, it is focused on classics. So many people come to us for these classics so they always have to be available. Only certain people make our food, too, and only certain chefs make certain foods, no one else is allowed to make them. There’s real consistency through everything. Everyone loves the cakes, too, and we always get comments on how great they are.
Effie was a true Mary Berry of the world.”
George Sinclair, owner of Effies of Perth
“The roast beef and horseradish and the smoked salmon sandwiches are our most popular ones on the afternoon tea offering, and the carrot cake is a winner as well – the same lady always makes it and it has been her recipe for carrot cake for over 20 years.”
Passionate about supporting local producers, guests will find meats from fourth-generation butchers Beaton Lindsay Butchers, salad dressings from Summer Harvest in Crieff, coffee beans by The Bean Shop, vegetables from Peter Martin Fruit
Bazaar and fish from fourth generation George Campbell Fishmonger, who have been landing haddock at Arbroath for over 100 year, all on the menus.
“Every single product or ingredient comes from local suppliers. It always has done. I think it is so important to support local producers, in this day and age we really need to be. You know how good the quality is, where it is coming from and there’s traceability with it,” said George.
“We work with a whole range of businesses who have been serving the local area for decades, if not at least a century in some cases. We’re very lucky to have access to so much great produce that we can use.”
Other places for afternoon tea in Perth
Fairmont – St Andrews
Served in the Atrium Lounge, the afternoon tea experience gives customers a sweet taste of London’s Savoy. Expect all the usual afternoon tea goodies, plus a few treats from the Fairmont‘s executive pastry chef.
Mitchell’s Deli & Restaurant – St Andrews
Using fresh, local and seasonal ingredients, Mitchell’s Deli & Restaurant is a great place to stop off in the middle of St Andrews for afternoon tea.
The Doll’s House – St Andrews
While The Doll’s House doesn’t offer the full afternoon tea works, you can pop into this cute cafe for a spot of cream tea where you’ll be treated to handmade scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam.
Mary’s Kitchen Tearoom – Dundee
Now open and welcoming customers back, Mary’s Kitchen Tearoom is also still offering their takeaway afternoon tea which features all the same items as the sit-in version.
Malmaison – Dundee
Malmaison Dundee‘s indulgent afternoon tea boasts a whole heap of delicious bites you may not expect to see on a traditional afternoon tea offering. While you can opt for classic cream tea, the Mal afternoon tea features brioche rolls, mini burger sliders, wraps, prawn cocktail, a fruit shake and a range of cakes, too.
Willows Coffee Shop & Restaurant – Perth
Established in 1992, Willows Coffee Shop & Restaurant is a go-to for locals and tourists alike for great coffee and tasty treats. The afternoon tea is traditional and features a range of homemade bakes which are bound to hit the spot.