In 1926, Belgian born Madam Valerie came to London with one mission; to introduce luxury continental patisserie to us Brits. Since the first store opened in London’s Soho, the brand has spread throughout the UK becoming a well known name in cafe culture. In 2015 a store in Newcastle city centre opened and, as a Christmas gift to my grandma, I thought I’d treat her to afternoon tea there to see what all the fuss is about….
The first thing we noticed, besides the delicious cakes in the window, was how busy the place was with the queue outside the door. As we weren’t allowed to book we had to wait for half an hour before being seated. In a bustling city centre this is probably to be expected but maybe the option to pre book for a special occasion might be a better idea.
There were four of us in our party and mum and grandma decided to share the afternoon tea on offer; priced at £25 for two. We thought this was a good price however our waitress preceded to advise us that it wouldn’t be as per the menu. It still sounded okay and with a couple of amendments they decided to still go ahead. I ordered the ham & cheese croissant with my brother, as always, sticking to a coke as he doesn’t like anything too different.
The drinks arrived fairly quickly but the food was quite slow to follow. The sandwiches were a very poor affair, hence why I haven’t bothered including a picture. We asked for no salmon and unfortunately we seemed to get a double serving. On the positive side the quiche lorraine and the scones were served warm which is always the perfect touch. It seemed like the cakes were meant to be bite size samples having noticed this from looking at other tables. Ours, however, were just one eclair and one large berry slice. Although they were lush, they didn’t seem to suit the ‘afternoon tea’ experience.
So here’s the final verdict! The staff were very pleasant and what we did receive tasted lovely. It just didn’t seem right for a gift – whether because this was a busy Saturday or just an off day, I couldn’t tell from just one visit. I’d probably try again but just for a quick cake and a coffee. I can’t help but wonder if the original ethos pursued by Madam Valerie has all but vanished as this brand has grown.
Let me know in the comments if you’ve tried Patisserie Valerie in any of their locations. Where else would you recommend to try for afternoon tea in the North East?