I celebrated yet another birthday back in August. No, you don’t need to know, but suffice it to say I would never get away with 21 ever again.
As a birthday treat, Mrs C booked a Champagne Afternoon Tea at the Angel Hotel in Cardiff for the two of us. She was going to be in hospital for my actual birthday so we went a few days before. As you may have gathered from some previous posts, we are regular afternoon tea aficionados and see it as a rare treat where, for a couple of hours we can switch off, enjoy the surroundings and have a nice chin-wag in pleasant and quiet surroundings. Of course we were still able to do this at The Angel Hotel, but it was impossible to hide our disappointment.
We live in Cardiff and have known the ‘Angel’ for many years. It has changed hands several times over the last few years which might explain why it doesn’t look quite as resplendent as it once did, but it still retains some of that original Victorian charm. There’s an impressive entrance hallway with gilted stairs and a painted ceiling. It looks very impressive to a first visitor.
The Worst Afternoon Tea Ever
Ok, what was wrong? Initially, very little. Then we were told to go and find a table, choosing from those which had been laid-up for afternoon tea. There weren’t very many, but we managed to find one close to the window that looks over to Cardiff Castle and settled ourselves down. I could see within seconds that Mrs C wasn’t happy. We looked at the tea plates on the other tables and they were bedecked with what can only at best be described as ‘average’ fayre. The sandwiches weren’t presented in a particularly attractive way, they were just laid flat on the bottom plate, arranged to fill the space more than anything. The cakes were so obviously out of a packet; Bakewell slices, angel cake (apt) and some other sponge together with a soggy half Ã©clair, no thicker than my index finger. Crowning the whole display were a couple of scones, again, cold, slightly stale and out of a packet.
Now call me old-fashioned, but when you have Champagne with your afternoon tea, the glass is on the table and the wine is poured at the table, partly to ensure that it is freshly poured and also to allow you to see what wine you’re actually having. I will say that the ‘fizz’ we had was actually quite nice, but I’ve no idea what it was.
Offers like Afternoon Tea can help an establishment attract repeat visitors and are an easy way to show off the hotel, its staff and food in an easy, profitable and even impressive way IF it is done properly. Presenting sandwiches made from supermarket sliced bread, filled with mediocre sandwich fillings, strewn around the plate; cakes simply taken out of a packet (some of which were opened a while ago judging by the stale and uninspiring display) and packeted scones with cream and cheap jam just doesn’t do it. This is not 4-star catering. Detail is the key!
Whatsmore, our daughters took advantage of the same offer on Travelzoo for a product that would normally cost over £40. Due to the complete let-down we had they will now definitely use another hotel venue nearby that we know does a Fantastic Afternoon Tea and for the same price. I’m afraid the Angel has fallen!