Why don’t you go to Patisserie Valerie?

Savory and sweet snapshotsIsabella Steinmeyer allowed to Varsity

The last time I ‘had tea’ was with my German exchange student. Between us was a tower of fondant, triangles of delicate sandwiches, tiny cupcakes, and a language barrier. The starched towel was as stiff as our conversation; But that wouldn’t discourage me this time. Did you say Afternoon Tea at the newly renovated Patisserie Valerie on Bridge Street? With a new menu too? Yes, idiot!

I’m greeted by sunny staff who seat me at a marble table with a pink suede booth – it’s Zoella 2015, but the cushions are comfortable, so I can’t complain. The ambiance is… well, there isn’t any; Arc Café is busier, but I assume it’s 2pm on a Wednesday, so the average age is 60. I opt for mint tea: it does what it says on the tin with a Premium label, fresh mint leaves soaking in a royal blue teapot. We’re having fun.

“The environment is… well, there isn’t any; Arc Café has more buzz”

Exit the tea stall. A multi-tiered cake park with sweets and rectangular sandwiches perfect to make Barbie jealous. I exercise some moderation starting with the savory ones. There is a selection of four sandwiches and I dip into the cucumber and cream cheese first. Although simple, the fluffy white bread, fresh cucumber and generous helping of cream cheese are delicious. Without the shell, it’s elementary school lunchbox nostalgia at its best. Next, I try the turkey with stuffing, which isn’t very good. The lack of sauce on a notoriously dry meat makes it stick to the roof of my mouth – add some cranberry sauce, people! The smoked salmon and cream cheese redeem the turkey disaster, but the first round winner is easily the egg and watercress sarnie. I’m as surprised as you are. As someone who often suffers from ‘egg ick’, I avoid egg sandwiches. It was pure journalistic integrity that forced me to try, but the sweetness of the brioche married perfectly with the creamy egg mixture. This was not a case of Meal Deal.

Next up, dumplings. There are two: one plain, one with raisins – and in the interests of regional equality, I spread one with jam and then cream, one with cream and then jam. The scones were buttery and flaky, and the raspberry jam tart balanced the sweetness perfectly. I intended to take a bite of each and move on, leaving plenty of room for the proper puddings. Too late, they were so extravagant that I swallowed them easily.

“I left the café like a Lothario abandons his lover and stealthily returns home to his wife.”

Enough preliminaries, it was time to get to work. I warmed my pudding belly with a tiny chocolate tart, studded with hazelnuts and topped with a topping of… I don’t know what, but it tasted lovely. Lucky I was drinking tea alone: ​​they were fit for a wild family, but I suppose you could call these one-bite wonders ‘refined’. I moved on to the blue Smurf macarons, which I have to say were the low point of the experience. They were sweet, but beyond that I couldn’t tell and didn’t go back for a second bite. Don’t worry because the cakes saved the day! I started with the gingerbread, it was moist (sorry) and had a subtle kick that warms your throat as you fight week 5 of lugia. But the main course it was the chocolate cake. With a decadent slice of chocolate frosting on top and a layer of chocolate frosting in the middle, this bad boy made me swoon. In a moment of weakness, I tore the one I had reserved for my housemates out of the box and snorted it too, preventing their blood sugar from spiking. Am I Bruce Bogstrotter or Barry’s Bootcamp? Possibly both.

I left the café like a Lothario leaves his lover and stealthily returns home to his wife; I emptied my teapot and my abandoned essay could wait no longer. But what was the cost of my decadent foray with my French lover Pat Valerie? At almost £20 a head I might have to stick with PG Tips. Plus, if life wasn’t miserable enough for those suffering from lactose intolerance, celiac disease, and veganism, the menu doesn’t meet most dietary needs. I must join points in solidarity.

So save this place for when a generous relative/friend/fairy godmother comes to town – the food is always better when it’s free. Until then, Hobnobs will have to do.

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