The Hayloft Restaurant, Boycott Farm – Stowe

Reviewed on October 12th, 2014 by Dina

A year has passed by fast and with another bambino in our group, it was that time of year for an annual outing with friends. After a wonderful morning at the National Trust Stowe Landscape Gardens, an Afternoon Tea was our indulgence.

A short drive from the gardens, Boycott Farm was the where the Hayloft Restaurant was located. The Hayloft Restaurant is on the upper level of the converted barn. Wooden beams, fairy lights and hay pictured tablecloths make this a magical dining area.

Vintage style rose patterned teapots, teacups and saucers started off the Afternoon Tea. The Traditional Tea was plentiful and there was enough for a few cups of tea for the whole afternoon. Three tiers of triangle sandwiches, scones and cakes made up the food selection.

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Cheese and cucumber was on white bread and the ham and mustard was on brown granary bread. The ham was Boycott home cured and went well with the mustard mayonnaise. Thick cheese slices and slices of cucumber was the other classic sandwich.

The scones were fresh, big and had a good amount of fruit in them. These came with deep dishes of homemade strawberry jam and clotted cream. The perfect combination of scones, cream and jam; a mouth watering treat!

To complete the Afternoon Tea, the top tier had slices of Victoria sponge cake and rich fruit cake. The cakes were moist and had a lovely flavour. As the Hayloft is part of the farm, the produce and food is of top quality.

One thing to note is that the Hayloft Restaurant does accommodate for gluten free diners. The Afternoon Tea is available with gluten free sandwiches, scones and cakes with no compromise on the taste.

The staff were really friendly and gave us great service with a smile. They allowed us plenty of time to enjoy our Afternoon Tea and the whole afternoon was very relaxed.

It is hard to resist all the fresh produce, savoury and sweet pastries, vegetables and cakes in the farm shop on the way out from the restaurant.

A special day out was had with all of us. Precious friendships are strong no matter how many years go by. This quote says it all  “Friends are like stars. You don’t have to see them to know they are there”. The Hayloft Restaurant made for the perfect place for the gathering and a delicious Afternoon Tea.

The Hayloft Restaurant, Boycott Farm, Welsh Lane, Stowe, Buckinghamshire, MK18 5DJ

Rating: ★★★★★

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Andronicas World of Coffee – Covent Garden

Reviewed on August 20th, 2014 by Dina

If you are looking for this coffee shop, then do not expect to see a sign saying Andronicas outside of it. Instead look for a neon lit Espresso Bar sign in the window.

After a lot of time walking up and down Floral Street several times and getting blank responses from neighbouring shops when asked if they knew where Andronicas was, we began to believe that Andronicas did not exist. So, we gave up and picked the closest coffee shop which had several signs outside of it displaying Espresso Bar.

It is not until we entered the cafe that there was a picture of a map and in the corner, the magical words of Andronicas World of Coffee appeared. The name Andronicas was everywhere inside the cafe: by the counter, on the coffee cups, on the menu but just nowhere on the outside. Not displaying the name of the coffee shop on the outside is a big mistake in our eyes.

Andronicas CounterAndronicasAndronicas Seating AreaAndronicas SandwichesAndronicas TeaAndronicas SconeAndronicas Map SignAndronicas Hot ChocolateAndronicas Counter DisplayAndronicas DisplayAndronicas DecorAndronicas Menu

To calm ourselves down from the frustration and feeling like we deserved a treat, we chose to have the Afternoon Tea. Luckily once we were in the cafe, things did improve. The staff gave us good efficient service. They were friendly apart from one member of staff. For the whole time that we were in Andronicas, this staff member made us feel like we should quickly have our food and drink and then leave.

The Afternoon Tea did not come with the traditional finger sandwiches. Instead, two little white rolls were served with the warm fillings. A sesame topped white roll had gammon ham, melted cheese and cucumber. Mozzarella, tomato and pesto made up the poppy seeded roll. Both of the sandwiches tasted delicious with the fresh fillings.

A big warm fruit scone came with an individual jar of strawberry jam, butter and a small bowl of clotted cream. It was served after we had finished our sandwiches.

The Earl Grey came in a small white teapot with a milk jug on the side. The hot chocolate was perfect. It was not too heavy. When we told the staff that the hot chocolate was slightly cold, they quickly replaced it was a hot one without any fuss.

Andronicas only has a couple of tables and a breakfast bar like area running through the middle of the cafe. Fresh flowers brightened the place. There were pastries on display at the counter. Shelves around the shop displayed various coffee makers and equipment.

The main reason we chose to come to Andronicas was that we thought that it would be quieter due to its location down the side street, even though it was in Covent Garden. The cafe was not too busy on this weekday but it is likely to be a lot more popular on the weekends.

In the end, Afternoon Tea at Andronicas was lovely; it was just a shame about our struggling quest to hunt its location out!

Andronicas World of Coffee, 28A Floral Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DP

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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Caffe Concerto – St Paul’s

Reviewed on June 5th, 2014 by Dina

What a wonderful surprise when my dad came to visit me one weekend! It was the perfect opportunity to take my dad out for an Afternoon Tea; something that I had wanted to do for a long time. With the location of Caffe Concerto in the shadow of the magnificent St Paul’s Cathedral, what better place to be at on a Sunday.

Caffe Concerto looks quite elegant with its chandeliers, beige seating and red decor. Single yellow roses decorated the tables. There is the counter fridge near the entrance with a great display of cake slices, pastries and tarts. The staff and service were okay but it was hard at times to get the attention of the staff.

Bombay Chai and Organic Earl Grey teas were chosen. These came as silver pots of tea and they were tea bags instead of loose tea. Both teas were enjoyable.

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The selection of items for the Afternoon Tea looked wonderful. The sandwiches were cream cheese and cucumber and also egg mayonnaise. The bread was dry and tasted very stale. The sandwiches were a real disappointment and neither myself nor my dad were able to finish them.

At least the fruit scones were better. They seemed slightly fresher and were of a good size. They came with the traditional clotted cream and the strawberry jam came in a mini jar.

The tarts and the cakes were the highlight of the Caffe Concerto Afternoon Tea. A rich chocolate mousse on a chocolate biscuit base was lovely. To contrast this, there was a sharp lemon cheesecake. The fruit tart and the almond tart both had crumbly pastry and a good tasty filling.

Caffe Concerto was a nice place but it should pay more attention to the quality of the food so that it matches the high standard of its surroundings. Attention to detail could really make a difference to having this average cafe turned into a great cafe.

Caffe Concerto, One New Change, St Paul’s, London, EC4M 9AF

Rating: ★★★½☆

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