I hate afternoon tea, most of my afternoons are spent in an office and there’s little time to enjoy a lavish afternoon of luxury and indulgence. I’m only guaranteed two afternoons free each week, one is usually taken up with a hangover and the other is dedicated to a Sunday Roast.
When the lovely people of Pagoda Porter Novelli invited us down to sample Afternoon Tea at Colonnades in The Signet Library we almost put in holiday requests to guarantee our place. Luckily the event was taking place in the evening, which would leave holidays free for an essential revisit when Colonnades opens on the 4th June.
At the start of our evening we had the arduous task of tasting tea infused Edinburgh Gin, we had immense power and would help decide which would become The Signet’s signature gin. I was partial to the Earl Grey, but this was no easy decision, I spent a little more time conducting ‘research’ before casting my vote.
Every visit to The Signet Library has been a real treat, for us it signifies the start of the Fringe Festival, or at least it did. Now it signifies tea, endless supplies of tea, and gin, oh and cheese profiteroles…
I love profiteroles and cheese, the notion of combining them is a stroke of genius. The Gruyère oozed out and proved to the be the perfect start to our luxurious late afternoon tea.
EdinBloggette was driving the BlogMobile so was unable to enjoy the delights of tea infused gin or the deliciously crisp bubbles. Luckily there was an astounding selection of actual tea available, and EdinBloggette LOVES tea. I’m pretty sure the amount she drank came close to a world record.
Our personal favourites from the night were Lapsang Souchong and Ginger Chai, we’ve fallen in love with The Wee Tea Company and will be sourcing our own personal teapots very soon. Classy.
So, Colonnades absolutely nailed the Tea section of Afternoon Tea. I’m a loyal tea drinker, but have been known to dip my toe into coffee fairly regularly (not literally). I was determined to stay up as late as possible with the following day off work, and after three coffees I twitchily declared that it was absolutely delicious.
Let’s move onto something less liquid.
A thing of beauty, I had an amazing time photographing reflections of food. Let’s take a closer look:
EdinBloggette sat patiently whilst I photographed these beautiful tiers, a sigh of relief silenced the library when I place my camera down and it was time to tuck in.
As a burger enthusiast I was overjoyed to find a mini Aberdeen Angus burger, too cute to eat? No. Not at all, I eat lamb after all. The burger was followed by a heavenly smoked applewood tart, which could easily have been 10 times the size, and a beautifully light prawn cocktail with fresh mango salsa.
Our second tier had a salmon and salad theme, the salmon had been infused with Edinburgh Gin, if there’s one thing missing from most foods, it’s gin.
Afternoon tea requires dainty finger sandwiches, and Colonaddes’ offering didn’t fail to impress. Light bites with simple flavours, leaving plenty of room for the main event…
Afternoon Tea is just an excuse to eat loads of cakes and pastries, everybody knows that cake is good for you providing it is stacked vertically. The sheer excitement of seeing tiered treats will burn as many calories as you consume.
The insanely good salted caramel tart was just the right size to avoid any dependencies form, and the mille-feuille was light and fresh, a stark contrast against the rich chocolate.
Slightly out of focus and eaten before I had the chance to take a clearer shot, were the passion fruit and mango éclairs, a duo of tangy treats.
There was such precision to all the courses, everything looked so pretty and had the flavours to match. Clearly a lot of thought has gone into each element of the Afternoon Tea and it’s paid off, we’d not even finished and were already planning a return visit.
The lemon meringue tart was truly deserving of a close up, EdinBloggette takes a pretty dim view on lemon based desserts but thought this was the best thing she’d eaten all night. Pretty remarkable given the high praise she’d given everything else. I absolutely loved this too, but my heart was with the chocolate tart.
Much like finger sandwiches, scones must make an appearance and these little beauties didn’t disappoint. Still warm and begging to be coated in clotted cream and jam, it’s important to remember that the fruit in the scone is good for you and cancels out any clotted cream you apply.
The service throughout the evening was superb, Laura was attentive and friendly and helped us journey through almost all the teas on the menu. It was lovely to see somebody with so much passion about the food and drink being served.
Our evening tea was fantastic, we’ll definitely return if we can get the time off work. If you do decide to go, don’t under any circumstances let us know. There’s no benefit in punishing us whilst we make do with food presented on one plate with no lemon and chocolate tarts in sight.
Those wishing to book in June or July can enjoy Afternoon Tea for £50 (a saving of £10), in our view it’s well worth the cost. This is a strong contender for Edinburgh’s best afternoon tea, we’ll let you know once we’ve tried them all!
For more information and details of how to book please visit www.thesignetlibrary.co.uk
We were invited to sample Afternoon Tea as guests, we were not asked to write a review or make any questionable claims about health benefits of the fruit in scones.