Saturday, 14 April 2012

Waterloo Gardens Teahouse

In the UK, when you mention afternoon tea, scones and clotted cream usually comes into mind. Teas, cakes and sandwiches also come into the picture.

The last time I had proper afternoon tea was at The Berkeley, Knightsbridge and the Grosvenor House Hotel, Mayfair.

So, I was pretty excited when friends and colleagues told me about this cafe in Cardiff that serves afternoon tea on a 3-tier stand!

This little cafe or teahouse - The Waterloo Gardens Teahouse, is not located at the 'famous' Waterloo in London, but is aptly named after the street where it's located, called Waterloo Gardens in Penylan, Cardiff.

According to the teahouse's website, one can only reserve a table by pre-booking afternoon teas, and we soon found out the reason why when we arrived at the place.

Signboard Outside Cafe

View from our table

The place was filled with people enjoying their teas and cakes, people standing by the counter and people queueing up to wait for free tables!

Busy afternoon

As you can see on the wall behind the bar, the shelves are filled with pots of teas for sale to the public. You can buy "fine artisan tea from award winning estates around the world from this tiny little teahouse!

Tea Menu

Faced with a very extensive list of different teas that I can choose from the rather thick tea menu, I chose the award-winning Lychee Oolong. For me, fruity teas never fail to impress with their subtle sweetness complimenting the fragrant Oolong.


I was wondering why every table had this colourful hourglass and soon found out that it was to time how long different teas should brew in the teapots!

3-Tier Stand and Tea Set

3- Tier Stand

Clotted Cream and Raspberry Jam

Top tier consists of the clotted cream and raspberry jam for the miniature scones found in middle tier.

Scone and Coffee & Tia Maria Cake

Middle tier carries the miniature scones and slices of Coffe & Tia Maria cakes.

Finger Sandwiches

The bottom tier then holds the finger sandwiches including Mixed Vegetable Sandwich, Cheddar Cheese and Tomato Chutney Sandwich and Salmon with Soft Cheese Sandwich.

Normally, we start with the savoury food, hence the sandwiches. I thought the sandwiches were nice and normal, a far cry from being exceptionally impressive.

After finishing the savoury foods, we proceeded to the scones. I thought the scones were tiny and baked a bit too long as they have gone rather hard and dry. However, a big dollop of my favourite clotted cream just about saved the day. I must say that the cream tea (scones and cream) I had in Dartmouth was way better although it is unfair to compare scones here vs. those served in a Michelin starred restaurant. But even the cream tea in a normal cafe @ Cotswolds was nicer.

Then we continued on to the sweet cakes - Coffee & Tia Maria Cake. I liked this cake as it was very moist. The cake has a nice coffee flavoured buttercream, a very subtle Tia Maria flavour infused in the coffee flavoured sponge.

A rather rich cake but a sip of my Lychee Oolong tea just nicely cut through the richness of it.

Although this afternoon tea has not achieved the elegance and attention to details of those offered in Berkeley and Grosvenor House but this was very well compensated with a considerably lower price of GBP11.50 (compared to GBP35-40 at the other two establishments).

In conclusion, I would picture afternoon tea at this place as "like having sandwiches, cakes and tea in any other cafe" but served on a 3-tier stand and a tea set. But I do like the friendly atmosphere of this place as long as I don't have to wait in an amazingly long queue for a free table!

On a note, I found it rather difficult to enjoy my afternoon tea when the chairs are higher than the table! 

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