Top table for Afternoon Tea
Caroline Bingham visited Stokes High Bridge Café to enjoy an indulgent and relaxing treat.
I had certainly been a while since I’d had the chance to sit down alone, collect my thoughts and immerse myself in an Afternoon Tea experience. ‘Tea for two’ seemed to be the order of the day at another table but I was going to savour the moment to myself.
Stokes High Bridge Café and their Stokes To Go shop occupy one of Lincoln’s most handsome and historic buildings. Dating from the medieval period, its black and white timber frame dominates this section of the High Street – you can’t miss it. When I stepped inside, I was warmly greeted by staff and shown to one of my favourite tables on the first floor – with a window view over the bustling street below. There is something very satisfying about being comfortably seated while you watch the rest of the world hurry about their business.
I made my choice from the Afternoon Tea Menu. ‘The Classic’ includes a choice of sandwich, fruit scone with cream and jam plus a selection of savouries and cakes. Presented on a three-tiered stand, this was going to be more food than I could perhaps manage in one sitting but I was determined to pace myself. To accompany it, I chose Stokes Lincolnshire Gold Medal tea. This blend is loose-leaf, so my teapot came with a strainer and side pot of hot water for topping up. Perfect!
I take my tea weaker perhaps that some tastes but this is a truly refreshing and rounded cup. Coffee drinkers can savour Stokes’ own Blue Mountain Blend. If you want to celebrate an extra-special occasion there are options to add to your Afternoon Tea with a glass of Prosecco with ‘The Lush’ or a demi-bottle of Champagne with ‘The Duchess’ (for two).
My choice of sandwich was smoked salmon with cream cheese and chive but there was also cream cheese and cucumber, egg mayonnaise and chive or local roasted ham with mustard. While I sipped my cup of tea, I watched the world go by a bit more from my vantage point. The Lincs and Notts Air Ambulance fundraisers were out collecting donations with their mascot Parameduck, who considering the warmth of the day was probably in great need of a cup of tea too.
The impressive tea stand was placed on the table with a broad smile from my server. On the top plate, finger sandwiches with both white and brown bread (my choice), a sausage roll and slice of quiche. The middle plate held a fruit scone, cream and jam, while the bottom plate carried the sweet treats of cake and macaron.
I began with the sausage roll. Meaty and well-seasoned Lincolnshire Sausage wrapped in puff pastry. Next the cheddar cheese quiche with a layer of caramelised onion chutney on the base. Both delicious. The sandwiches were wonderfully fresh and delicate with a generous filling of smoked salmon. I poured more tea and watched some of the other diners who had been late lunching. They were being attended by equally smiling staff at the end of what had looked like a busy service.
I had noticed my fruit scone was warm when I first arrived and I was pleased that it had remained so. It was quite a substantial size, but light with a crisp bake and meltingly soft centre. I layered on the accompanying strawberry jam and cream to complete this traditional treat. I had definitely made the right choice to only have fruit for breakfast but I knew the cakes would defeat me at some point. Which to go for? I had a piece of strawberry blondie, a macaron and the strawberry garnish (to enforce my belief that you eat fewer calories if you have fruit with cake). Luckily, my failure to eat the remaining Bakewell tart, lemon drizzle and chocolate brownie was spotted and my server offered me a take-home box for them. I enjoyed these later that evening.
he warm hospitality of High Bridge Café was nearly over but the quintessential charm of the surroundings and the delicious Afternoon Tea is one of the highlights of any visit to Lincoln. You can book your table in the café for one of the Afternoon Tea experiences 24 hours in advance, or order to takeaway.