Well, call me Joey Tribbiani, I believe I have just fallen in love with a sandwich…
… not just any sandwich I might add, a beautifully sweet, truffled chicken sandwich in a brioche roll.
It was the sandwich dreams are made of (Yep, I never thought I’d start a blog this way, but it’s true).
I NEED the recipe for this beautiful sandwich in my life – I wonder if the chef at this afternoon tea venue would share it with me?…
I’ve just returned from an invitation to sample the afternoon tea at the newly opened Ivy Brasserie in Cambridge and I’ve fallen in love.
Not only was this divine sandwich a real high point, the entire afternoon tea experience was. It was an excuse to get dressed up on a dismal spring day and enjoy some quality time with The Bearded One, a pre-birthday treat for myself, much needed!
It is refreshing to find somewhere in central Cambridge that can offer you something a little different on the afternoon tea scene.
From the dainty tea ware (the iconic ivy emblem is still prominent on the teacups and plates here) to the delicate scones and petit fours, through to the swift table service as you make your way through the afternoon tea tier, this is a very well thought out menu.
This stunning and colourful afternoon tea venue is the ideal backdrop for any occasion, be it a lunch date with friends, a family dinner, date night at their stylish bar (which reminds me of the bar from the film “The Shining”!) or afternoon tea on a rainy Sunday afternoon in central Cambridge.
The walls are adorned with creative artwork inspired by Cambridge’s academic and scientific heritage, as well as nods to its punting and rowing history. Maps, mixed with paintings and sculptures keep your eyes entertained for the entirety of your visit, no item is the same, it’s very colourful and great fun to look at as you dine.
Not leaving out the ‘busy’ tiled floor, a gorgeous pattern which stretches from the front door, all the way through the long dining room and even down the stairs to the washrooms and private dining room below you.
If you have a little thing with floors (as I do!), then this one will well and truly sweep you off your feet.
Tables are covered in crisp white linen, silver cutlery sparkles on the table and the crockery boasts the famous “ivy” emblem very discreetly, even the menus and starched napkins reflect the iconic leaf.
It works really well, it’s not garish, the table is perfectly simple and stylish, allowing your eyes to explore the walls before your food arrives to distract them back to the table.
The simple cucumber finger sandwiches and a delicious smoked salmon open-top sandwich on rye bread leads onto a fluffy, warm scone with clotted cream and strawberry jam. If you have space, then you can move onto a beautifully dainty vanilla cheesecake with fresh fruit, a gorgeous crème brûlée doughnut and a creamy, salted caramel-y pot of joy ♡
The Little Niggles:
On arrival, we were seated by a waiter who asked if we would like water for the table, offering us the choice of still or sparkling. We asked for a bottle of sparkling water and it never arrived, nor did the water glasses. To be fair, we didn’t push for them, as there was simply no room on our small table for two.
As we walked through the brasserie, following this waiter to our table on arrival, at least two other waiting staff walked out right in front of us, stepping out between us and the waiter we were following. For somewhere such as The Ivy, I would expect them to allow you to walk through first and follow behind you – this is the etiquette that *should* be followed. One waitress walked straight across me, making me stop and didn’t acknowledge me in any way, a little rude in my honest opinion.
To credit the team, with the fact that we met at least four different waiting staff throughout our visit, they knew which of us was having tea and who was having coffee when it was served, impressive.
We were offered a top-up of tea and coffee during our afternoon and when we asked the waitress which brand of coffee she was pouring us, she admitted that she hadn’t forgotten, but she would check for us. She never returned with that information, again, a real shame.
As with all afternoon tea settings, the lack of a separate knife for sweet and savoury food was lacking – there’s not much worse than making a mess with savoury treats and then having to use the same knife (and plate if the savoury is especially messy) to dip into the jam and clotted cream – if you serve afternoon tea yourself, it’s worth remembering this… I always serve two plates with my own afternoon tea offerings for this very reason. It’s pedantic, I know, but, Miss Sue Flay likes what she likes!
I would perhaps suggest one or two more savoury options to the afternoon tea tier… Three finger sandwiches each was perfect, but perhaps a mini “something” would be great to add a little balance. I seem to favour savoury more and more lately, so a bite of something else would have made this a 10/10 for me.
The Little Touches:
On arrival, you are greeted by a friendly receptionist, who is almost standing guard of the internal doors into the brasserie itself. It adds a little mystery to the venue, almost building the anticipation, as you can’t initially see inside through the heavily frosted doors. She took our coats & umbrella, passing us a cloakroom ticket for later, a perfect welcome on a wet and rainy day.
I had mentioned on booking our table that it was my birthday, so it was an unexpected treat to be served a glass of prosecco prior to our food arriving. This was a lovely touch and the waitress very discreetly wished me a very happy birthday with a smile as she whipped them over and disappeared just as discreetly, it was a lovely touch.
As we finished our finger sandwiches, a waiter came over to clear the three tier stand away from our table. He did this quickly and quietly, leaving the petit fours behind on the plate, allowing us a little more space to manoeuvre.
We weren’t rushed or pushed to leave our table, we were allowed to take our time and it was very much welcomed. We didn’t have lots of waiting staff interrupting us to ask how everything was (I always dislike that when you have a mouthful and have to nod or speak with your mouth full), but there was always somebody close enough to hand if we needed anything.
Overall, this has to be, hands down, one of my favourite afternoon tea venues in Cambridge, if not of all time.
If you are looking for somewhere intimate to enjoy an afternoon tea, this could work for you. It’s always seemingly busy here, but you are sat far enough away from everyone else around you that can peacefully enjoy your own colourful pocket of the brasserie.
It could also be the perfect solution to a civilised celebration, just drop them a line with your requirements and I’m sure they can make it work for you. I often get asked where would be great for a sophisticated hen party, baby shower or birthday afternoon tea and this would be an ideal location.
Whilst dining at The Ivy Brasserie Cambridge, we enjoyed having some fun with our food… (Not the done thing to do, I know) it made me look like one of the rudest dining companions in the world(!), but I made a fun set of Instagram Stories as we tucked in.
Visit my Instagram Page here and click on the “High Tea” section in my bio to take a nosey and see this fabulous afternoon tea streamed live (at the time of visiting) for a different perspective – enjoy.
Afternoon Tea at The Ivy Brasserie in Cambridge is served daily between 3pm-5pm.
A cream tea is currently served at £7.95 and the Afternoon tea in which we enjoyed served at £17.95 per person.
The Ivy Group will be opening more Brasseries across the UK this year, including one in Norwich, of which I am very excited to see when it opens – I’ll be adding it to my Ultimate Guide To Norwich once I’ve been!
Read my “About Me” page here!
See my full Facebook photo album for this visit here.
Please note – This visit was complimentary following an invitation from The Ivy Brasserie Cambridge. I am in no means obliged to blog or write about their offerings, but I simply choose to share with my readers, should I enjoy the experience. A huge thank you to the the team for welcoming us, we very much enjoyed our afternoon.
Any questions or to discuss a “Secret Stay” or review, please do email:firstname.lastname@example.org
All images & words © 2018 Miss Sue Flay, these may not be used or reproduced without written permission from the owner, many thanks in advance.