When I was younger, the words ‘afternoon tea’ conjured images of grannies nibbling on scones while having a good old natter. Fast-forward to a decade or so later, however, and afternoon tea has made a comeback – it’s cool again to eat cake and sip tea out of grandma-esque china.
In the UK, afternoon tea was always something you could experience, but was mainly sought out by tourists and the aforementioned grannies. Observance of the custom originated among the wealthy classes in England in the 1840s, and it’s a tradition that’s never really died out. My hometown of Lincoln is a historical city, and in the Bailgate area – which is home to our cathedral – you will find plenty of tiny tea rooms where afternoon tea is served.
Seeing as I’m not travelling at the moment, I thought I’d take my own advice from this post on how to alleviate symptoms of wanderlust when you’re not able to travel, and explore my own city. So since I’ve been back home, I’ve been trying to ‘experience’ all the things that totally flew over my head when I used to live here.
Therefore, in the name of research, I decided to go and consume my body weight in cake and sandwiches – someone has to do it.
I headed to Bunty’s Tea Room, as it’s possibly the best known one in town. Unfortunately for me, this place is located on Steep Hill – a popular tourist street that is, indeed, bloody steep. As I huffed and puffed my way up the hill I told myself I was burning calories in anticipation of the sugar frenzy that was about to follow.
Once I made it there and had finally stopped panting like a rabid dog, I discovered that I had to queue outside with several others before getting a table for my sister and I – that’s how popular this place is.
All was forgiven once we were inside, though, and cosied up on our chairs. Bunty’s Tea Room look like your granny’s kitchen – it’s warm, cosy, and there are fancy teapots and mismatched china cups everywhere.
Cute details inside
We were offered a menu from which we could choose two options from an array of sandwiches, a slice of cake each from the day’s selection, and a sultana or plain scone per person. Salivation began from the minute I read the menu.
The cake options were mind boggling – everything from chocolate cake, to carrot cake, Victoria sponge cake and blackberry butter cake. My sister informed me that they even do a dandelion and burdock cake on some days. I’m not sure if you can get much more British than that.
After we put in our order, the tea arrived first.
We Brits do love our tea and I was happy to see that there was enough there to keep us going for a good few hours (to the toilet, that is).
As my sister and I nattered, the tiered stand made its grand entrance. Words, here, are useless, so let me allow you to marvel at its beauty first:
I’m not sure what the correct etiquette surrounding the ritual is (what do you eat first?!) but I headed straight for the sandwiches – a very British selection of tuna mayonnaise with cucumber and egg mayonnaise (crustless, of course).
Once we had suitably stuffed ourselves with too many carbs and mayonnaise, we moved onto my favourite part – the scones. God I love scones. They remind me, not so ironically, of my grandma, who also loves them and always had some in her bread bin.
I layered the middle of mine with plenty of cream, a slathering of strawberry jam and then marvelled at my creation – I invite you to do the same:
As I chomped on the scone, the words of Joey Tribiani from friends began to echo in my head. He exclaimed “You are my Everest” as he tried to eat a whole turkey as part of a dare. This was no turkey, but I was already starting to feel challenged by all the carbs and sugar.
I needed a break and my Cypriot self was ashamed (Cypriots pride themselves on how much they are able to eat in one sitting – true story).
After the slight interval, I decided to give up on the scone (there was about a quarter remaining) and try some of the carrot cake that I had selected.
In short, it was the best carrot cake I’ve ever eaten – no exaggeration. Perfectly moist (ugh, that word – but needs must) with the right amount of frosting. I’d go back to Bunty’s just to have a cup of tea and a slice of that bad boy.
Half the carrot cake was left uneaten, but my loss was my brother’s gain – I took it home in a doggy bag, and he gave a similar reaction to the one I had when I ate it: “Oh my God, this is so good” *cue random appreciative munching noises*
I’m already thinking of when I can go back next.
Verdict on Bunty’s Tea Room
On the whole, I loved it there – the staff are friendly and the food is really good. I also liked the fact that they give you a massive teapot full of tea – it was the right amount for the two of us. The only negative I can really think of is that I did feel like we were being rushed along by the staff a little bit. I can’t really blame them – it must be anxiety-inducing to have a queue outside the door, but at the same time, if you’re paying £25 to have afternoon tea for two, you want to be able to take your time and enjoy it. Especially when there’s so much food to get through.
However, if you’re ever in Lincoln exploring the cathedral, I’d highly recommend you try this place. Go on a weekday, though, to avoid the peak-day rush.
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