Confusing Afternoon Tea @ The Tetley Bar & Kitchen, Leeds

The Tetley Gallery has a Bar & Kitchen serving Yorkshire inspired dishes. Being open all day, for brunch, lunch, tea and dinner, they have a menu that covers all parts of the day. 

I’d gone to sample their afternoon tea in order to continue my search for the best in Leeds. Our table had specifically been booked for afternoon tea at 4:30pm, for 2 people. I think that’s pretty straight forward don’t you think?

We arrived around 4:10pm  and when I said I’d reserved a table for afternoon tea the bar man was a little abrupt and just said ‘ok, but we stop serving it at 5pm’. So we thought that’s fine, we’d be sitting down straight away and it would be all good.

It was coming to the end of a long week, the last week of school before Christmas, wine was certainly on the cards and much deserved. I ordered a bottle of Argentinian Malbec, now I’m no wine expert at all, but I thought this was quite robust in flavour and lovely. Great to warm us up a little on a cold, rainy, grey day!!

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The seating area is organised into an area with lovely comfy chairs and sofas near the reception and bar, then a dining room which leads off this. We sat down at a table with comfy chairs and settled in and relaxed with our yummy Malbec.  

From their menu we could see that The Tetley’s afternoon tea came with a good selection of items – a decent choice of sandwiches, cakes, pastries and a scone with accompaniments, all served with a pot of tea. What you would normally expect really. All for £9.50, which is comparable with other places I’ve been to so far in Leeds. 

Time was passing, but nobody had come up to our table to ask about us having afternoon tea, so we were a little confused. By the time it got to 4:50pm, getting ever closer to 5pm (the cut off time), we were both getting a little worried. Had they forgotten about us? So just as I was about to ask someone, I could see some of their team looking over at us and a waitress walked across. She informed us that we’d need to move into the main dining room, as they would be serving it in there. I found it a little bizarre no one had actually told us we should go in there in the first place, so we therefore assumed we could sit anywhere. We moved from a comfy seating area to a dining room which was nice, but didn’t possess the comfy feel we were after. Don’t get me wrong it’s a lovely room, but it just didn’t feel right. We wanted to just sit somewhere really comfortable. It was never made clear to us where we would be having tea, and I feel this lack of communication put the experience on the back foot from the start. 

I feel like I’m being really harsh, and I don’t want to be!! The main dining room is lovely, but it wasn’t where we envisioned partaking in this afternoon past time, we both wanted to be back with the cosy, comfy chairs. We ran with it, but soon our time there got a little stranger, a young lady came over and wanted to make it clear that for afternoon tea there would be just one of each item advertised. Were they expecting us to share everything, even though this was afternoon tea for TWO people??? The mind boggled, this wasn’t difficult to understand: afternoon two for TWO means TWO of everything.

My friend had pointed that out maybe we were literally just getting one of each item to share between us. The same lady was back a few minutes later and then wanted to check that we understood that the single of pot of tea would be for two people, and we would have to share it, if we wanted any more tea, we would have to pay extra. The strange got even stranger!!

Our tea did arrive and it was indeed a pot for ONE, nice tea as it was, we were a little miffed at the whole getting one of each thing, when there is TWO people! So we waited, it took a little while for it to arrive and I had this preconceived, maybe romantic idea that it would come on the usual three tiers, and that I could see myself working my way through each tier, devouring each little bit.

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As you see there was no three tier cake stand in sight, but a wooden platter, with ONE of everything!! I don’t ever remember ordering afternoon tea for one to be shared between two people. It all clicked into place – all the strange, awkwardly asked questions. I did feel a little sorry for the lady who’d been serving us, having to ask such odd questions, but it all made sense now.

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Everything looked pretty all laid out, but before it had arrived my friend had made a joke about having to cut sandwiches in half, not really thinking she’d be doing it! So we divvied out the finger sandwiches which were nice, each had a good filling, the thick sliced bread was ok, but could have been a little softer.

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The scone was smallish, but was served warm and was supposed to come with butter, jam and clotted cream. The jam and cream were evident, but there was no butter, I don’t think butter is particularly traditional with scones, but nevertheless it wasn’t there. It was however, a nice scone – it had a crumbly texture, but it didn’t fall to pieces and the clotted cream and jam were good. There was plenty of jam to go round for another scone, so it was a shame we had to share one between us. 

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The Parkin was nice – moist with the characteristic taste of ginger, while the Yorkshire curd tart has a lovely short pastry case, tasty enough filling with a few currants dotted around. The macarons were good, a little inconsistent with some being lovely and chewy, while others were crumbly, the individual flavours were good though. 

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All in all, each item was very nice – the whole confusion about why we only got afternoon tea for one baffles me. When we finished we had to wait quite a while before our table was cleared, even though two larger groups had arrived for dinner, it was very clear we had finished. There seemed to be lots of standing around and chatting from staff, which wasn’t particularly impressive. After years working as a waitress at a busy restaurant during university, I know myself that you’ve got to be alert at all times and make yourself visible. 

We were so confused about the whole thing that when we asked for the bill, the waiter was asked to check if what we received was supposed to be for one or two people, just in case they were going to charge us for two. He came back with the bill in hand and said it had been for ONE!!!  

A bizarre experience the whole thing was really.

Apologies, I really don’t like being negative and try to be positive, but  I feel that as well as good food, good service is also paramount to giving people a memorable experience. The Tetley has been open just three weeks and maybe still settling into things in the Bar & Kitchen, so I’m sure service will improve. I would still like to come back again for lunch or dinner in the future. 

Food: Each part was lovely, more would have been better as we were still hungry.

Service: Lack of communication, more understanding needed of what afternoon tea entails, if a table is booked for two people, that automatically means there should be two of everything!! Service was polite, but quite slow at times. 

Atmosphere: Was quiet as we ate alone in a large dining room, we’d rather have been in the comfy chair area where there was more of a leisurely atmosphere.

The Tetley
The Tetley
Hunslet Road
Leeds
LS10 1JQ
0113 320 2423
http://thetetley.org/bar-kitchen/

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