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Afternoon tea is something that I don’t have often enough. I usually associate it with an occasion, Mother’s Day, a birthday, a celebration of sorts but I think it’s something that we could all do with enjoying a little more often.
Taking that time out to appreciate eating some sandwiches and cakes together as an experience and not simply for the sake of it, because all too often I go for lunch as just a necessity, the thing to do when you meet someone when really it is a luxury that should be appreciated more often.
Me and a friend booked a table for afternoon tea at Kirk View Aberdeen after seeing some pictures online and I was really intrigued by their slightly different take on what I know to be a traditional afternoon tea.
If you don’t know anything about Kirk View Cafe, it is located on Union Terrace in the city centre. It would normally have fantastic Kirk views but with the ongoing work happening in the gardens, it is a little harder to appreciate at the moment but that will change eventually. Not their fault by any means and I don’t doubt that the current circumstances have certainly slowed the progress of the work being carried out.
Despite this, it’s in a fantastic location for those of you who are looking for places to eat in Aberdeen city centre before visiting the HMT Theatre or maybe popping along to the Aberdeen Art Gallery.
The normal Kirk View menu offers a variety of dishes using fresh local produce such as pasta, risotto and burgers. These are available all day and there are also starters and tapas-style dishes available if you are looking for something a little bit lighter.
I’m not sure if they have a specific pre-theatre Kirk View cafe menu but the reviews on TripAdvisor from those who have visited for food before a show are very positive.
As I said, we booked the afternoon tea for lunchtime seating. I was intrigued by the pictures of the afternoon tea that I saw as they were offering an alternative to sandwiches, instead, Kirk View was offering a selection of bruschettas with toppings.
We arrived just before our booked time and were seated promptly, obviously, we had booked this prior to visiting so we weren’t provided with a menu but we were told what was included in this and asked if we would like any refreshments. At this point, we ordered the tea and coffee that was included in our afternoon tea along with some tap water.
I was a little disappointed to be told there was only one hot drink each allocated to this, as normally you can enjoy copious amounts of tea and coffee with your afternoon tea which is what makes it a little more of an experience but that is management’s decision. I received a small pot of tea, which held just over two cups worth, while my friend received a large cup of black coffee. I may have understood the cap on included refreshments if we were talking about lattes or cappuccinos, something a little bit more costly and extravagant but I think we both agreed that we would have liked more tea or coffee as an option included in the cost.
While we sat with our drinks taking in the surroundings, I took some time to look around and I thought that the restaurant was very clean and although it was quiet when we arrived, there were other parties arriving for afternoon tea and lunch while we waited. I found the decor to be quite sparse and not to my taste but you will never please everyone and I certainly saw it as no reflection of the restaurant’s quality. It’s part of the trouble with living in the age of Pinterest these days!
We received our bruschetta after a short while of waiting and we were given a board of eight, four each. Of the toppings, we were given 2x sweet chilli chicken, 2x goats cheese and caramelised onion, 2x peppers and hummus and finally 2x tomato, red onion and chopped olives and these were all drizzled with balsamic glaze.
We both thought that the bruschettas were delicious, nice and warm, a slight crunch but still soft. One criticism I do have, however, is that they were all sweet. We weren’t offered any alternatives, only informed that we could swap any of the toppings for more of one of the others but I will now say that a table did come in after us that was vegetarian and they were offered something different, mushrooms and brie I believe, which we would have really liked.
While we did enjoy the toppings that we were given, when it is to be then followed by the further sweet flavours from the cakes, it would have been nice to have a little savoury thrown in there to break that sweetness up as it did become quite heavy going. And I’m saying that as someone that has a sweet tooth!
Again, there was a wait between us finishing our bruschetta and receiving the cakes, the service is not particularly fluid which we noticed over several of the tables but we were in no rush and we were quite happy to wait although it’s maybe something to bear in mind if you are short on time.
By the time our cakes and desserts arrived, we had finished our hot drinks or they had turned slightly cold and normally I would want more at this point but we also didn’t want to order another set as we felt it should have come as part of the cost, especially due to the time taken for service between courses.
The cakes arrived and there was a good selection, we had two warm scones with cream and jam, two brownie pieces, two cupcakes and an Eton mess each. After the bruschetta, I did find the scones and cupcakes rather heavy to eat although the prospect of a nice warm scone was really appealing. The reality was just a bit much for me though.
I really struggled to eat much of this board but I don’t think it was bad, again, it’s just that every item of this afternoon tea was incredibly sweet.
Once we had finished our food, we didn’t take too much time to sit and digest before preparing to leave. From the website and at the time of booking, we had been under the impression that a Kirkview Classic afternoon tea was £14.95 each but when it came to the time of paying it was almost £20 each so I’m not entirely sure if that was an online/delivery cost that we had seen on the website.
We didn’t challenge this at the time as we thought that we must have misread but in hindsight, I wish we had as the cost did definitely show as £14.95 each!
Overall, I enjoyed our visit, it was quiet, I was in good company and the food was nice but it’s definitely a little rough around the edges in my eyes. As far as cost goes, it’s still well priced for afternoon tea in the city despite the fact that we did pay a little extra than expected and they do offer cocktails for a supplementary cost if you wish for something alcoholic.
I think if it were some more options in terms of some savoury ciabattas or perhaps a fruit tart, a macaron or even an eclair to break up the overwhelming heaviness from sponges and scones, they would have a real winner.
I believe that Kirk View Bistro and Cafe have been a part of Aberdeen Restaurant Week in the past so make sure to keep an eye out for any potential deals at the time of booking!
Kirk View Café & Bistro
27-29 Union Terrace,