I’d wanted to try the Garden Kitchen in Eldon Square for ages. I had read plenty of great reviews about their afternoon tea served on miniature picnic tables and I knew I had to pay a visit.
My youngest son had just moved into his new student pad ahead of his second year at Northumbria University so I decided I would take my mum for a visit and this was just the opportunity I needed as she is my afternoon tea partner in crime.
The Garden Kitchen is tucked away in a part of Eldon Square known as Eldon Gardens. I remember back in the day when this part of the centre was thriving with shops that were a bit posher and more individual than the chain stores out in the main malls. A lot has changed. I could tell by my mum’s face she was a bit let down but I was persevering.
It was 2.45pm on a Friday afternoon so the quintessential time to partake in afternoon tea as they say. The restaurant was more or less empty and I had to check that I’d got the right place as I thought it would’ve been buzzing. It was still school holidays at this point, too. On the menu what I thought was their ‘tea’ seemed to be described as their ‘garden picnic’. Hence, the picnic benches. I was a bit slow on the uptake there.
I ordered my favourite Fentimans while we waited for our picnic to arrive.
It was well presented and defintely different. The tiny little pots of soup were lush. The bread that the BLT was made with was very fresh and the perfect combination of just the right side of chewy yet crispy.
We found out as we ordered, too, that a pot of tea was extra. Again, I think there was some confusion as I thought tea would’ve been included. Normally, with afternoon tea it is, isn’t it?
The let down came in the form of the pasta and quinoa salads. The pasta was exceptionally cold as if it had literally come just out of the fridge. I don’t mind chilled but not cold. It was the chilli dressing on the quinoa salad that further spoilt things. There was no indication of how hot it would be. I called the waitress for some water as I really was struggling. She said the chef had calmed it down as people had been complaining it was too hot. Goodness knows how hot it must’ve been before.
In isolation, on it’s own I would probably enjoy it with some other savoury selections but for it to be paired with cake was I thought really quite unusual and odd. The chilli on your palate doen’t leave you best placed to enjoy cake in my opinion.
My mum was disappointed. After all, I had lured her it seems under the pretence of sandwiches and cake all set out like a picnic. She thought she was joining me to try afternoon tea in it’s more formal guise but with a quirky twist. I tried to cheer up by saying ‘lets try the cake’.
The brownie was rich and moist but the lemon drizzle cake had no actual lemon drizzle on it. This made me sad as the cake in itself was also very lemony and tasty. The fruit scone with Northumbrian jam and clotted cream was by far the stand out of the picnic for us.
It’s about the texture with scones. Absolutely hate the type that disintegrate as soon as the butter knife is brandished anywhere near them. Check this beauty out.
Unfortunately, despite everything we had heard about the Garden Kitchen for us it was a bit of a let down.
I would like to add that we could tell that that everything was made from quality ingredients but it was just very hit and miss as far as a taste sensation goes.
I think £19.95 for two to share is exceptional value for the amount of food — just didn’t hit the spot for us 🙁
Have you visited the Garden Kitchen recently? We’d love to hear your thoughts.