The festival can get very hectic and you need to take time out to relax and recover. Where better to do that than the Signet Library? Throughout the festival, the Signet Library plays host to the Pommery Bar which puts on a number of different events. It is also open for champagne, lunch and afternoon tea. C. and I went for champagne afternoon tea.
At Edinburgh Foody, we are rather fond of a good afternoon tea. There’s something special about the selection of sandwiches and cakes, a glass of champagne and a pot of tea. Afternoon tea is elegant and relaxing, a lovely luxurious treat. The Pommery Bar is the perfect venue. Mirror-topped tables are set up in the library, reflecting the ceiling and walls, making the room sparkle enticingly.
We sat at one of the tall tables in the middle of the room where we had a good view of the space. Crisp white and black china looked smart on the mirror tabletops. Pyramids of champagne bottles tempt you to stay a little longer. While we waited for champagne and pots of Earl Grey tea, we enjoyed guessing the nationality and relationship of the other visitors. It was a mixed crowd: from female friends out for a chat to tourist groups in for a bottle of champagne.
When the cake and sandwiches arrived, we lost interest in anything that was happening at any table other than ours.
We’d asked for a vegetarian sandwich selection and started with egg and cress, and aubergine and mozzarella sandwiches, before turning our greedy eyes to the cakes. Yes, sandwiches are an important part of afternoon tea, but the cake course always grabs my attention.
The mini scones were ever so cute, cream and jam served in little glasses. They were tasty and bursting with fruit. We have an ongoing debate about what’s nicer – fruit or plain scones. C. was telling me that when he was a kid, plain was the default and you had to ask for fruit. Now, it seems to be the other way around. I like both, as long as there’s cream and jam.
The second tier of cake had luscious lemon possets, shortbread with cream and strawberries and white chocolate Bakewell slices. Lemon posset is one of my favourite things in the world: creamy and zesty, utterly moreish. They, like the perfectly cooked shortbread, were good lessons in the elegance of simplicity.
For chocolate and toffee lovers, the bottom tier had much to get excited about. The Belgian chocolate brownie was moist and rich. The mini carrot cake was warm and spicy, perfectly balanced by the cream icing. We got excited about the salted caramel choux bun. It was filled with creme patissiere and had a crunchy medal of salted caramel on the outside. The contrast between soft and crunchy, salty and sweet was lovely and the choux was probably our favourite cake.
We drained the last of our champagne and finished our tea. Refreshed, we set out to experience more of the festival.
The Pommery Bar is at the Signet Library until August 25th. You can walk in, but to be sure to get a space, it’s best to book. Afternoon tea is not the only thing on the menu, there are also a range of lunch dishes, from sea food platters and anti-pasti, to lobster and burgers. Outside the festival, you can indulge at Gran Caffe at the Signet Library
The Signet Library
Edinburgh. EH1 1RF
Telephone : +44 131 225 0651
The Signet classic Afternoon Tea is £18.50 per person.
Pommery Champagne Afternoon Tea is £28.00 per person.