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Food & Drink Reviews

afternoontea.jpg Afternoon tea review>

The Biscuit Factory, Newcastle: Chloe Corkhill crosses her legs like a lady, secures her hatpins tightly and takes afternoon tea at the Biscuit Factory.

The pleasing thing about afternoon tea is the elegance of the ritual. The way you must slow down to observe each careful step in proceedings; the gently brewing exquisite tea blends, the savouring of each dainty delicacy and the slow pour; or the fast fizz, in our case, because my friend and I (predictably) plumped for ‘Sparkling Tea’ (£23pp) at The Biscuit Factory, a treat that replaces the tea with champagne. Also available are the ‘Cocktail Tea’ (£21pp) and the original tea-based version – ‘Contemporary Tea’ (£18pp). The cocktail (and mocktail) menu is packed with fruity, boozy, zesty deliciousness. Try the joyous Ginger Highball, with Southern Comfort and Fentiman’s Ginger Beer. Or, how about a refreshing and equally divine Rosemary Green with Midori, White Rum and torn rosemary? Tea lovers have a choice of classics and more unusual blends to choose from, and if you ask nicely, you could probably have coffee instead.

Whatever you drink, the essential experience is the same – a banquet of immaculate morsels, both savoury and sweet, and friendly, knowledgeable service. So, what to expect on your delicate side plate? How about bite-sized sausage rolls with apple and sage, choux pastry spheres filled with succulent chicken in a mustardy tarragon sauce. And gorgeous individual portions of salmon rillet served in glass jars with fresh dill and crunchy salted croutons. Vegetarians are well catered for too, with a range of titchy dishes created especially for them. Tiny pastry cases, crisp, golden and packed with nests of feta, peas, broadbeans and mint. Creamy mushroom ‘ketchup’ (thick soup) served espresso style and accompanied by sour dough croutons. Choux pastry snacks filled with rich Gruyere cheese sauce… Yum-my. The trick is to pace yourself – just because everything is presented to you at the same time, you don’t need to eat it all at once. Chill out, relish the moment and enjoy every mouthful before moving on to the sweets. They’re worth waiting for. The most moist, squidgy chocolate financier (a financier is a cake, apparently) with a delicate dark chocolate garnish was a favourite. A tangy, moreish lemon posset topped with plump, deep pink raspberries also went down a dream. Miniature frangipane and summer tarts accompanied by Chantilly cream… all delectable and all beautifully presented.

This is a special experience. If you’re planning a hen do, a birthday or you want to give your mum a special treat, do it here. If you’ve got a bigger event to arrange, take your afternoon tea in the venue’s function room – complete with vista of the city’s east end.

Afternoon Tea is served at The Factory Kitchen in The Biscuit Factory from 2pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays only. Booking is essential. Biscuit Factory, 16 Stoddart Street, Shieldfield, Newcastle. 0191 261 1103. thebiscuitfactory.com