After a long, hard day of educating today’s youth (le sigh!), what’s better than going into the big smoke and cramming your face full of cream cakes? The answer: nothing, that’s what! So with impending indulgence in mind and a hungry Miss Taleoftwosittings, we toddled along to Le Chalet, a new French themed tearoom on Park Row in Leeds. From the classy and modern interior, to the friendly warm welcome we received when we walked in, things just kept getting better and better.
Apart from cream-themed gluttony, we were there for a real purpose: our search for Leeds best afternoon tea. Just from a quick glance at a few older posts on this blog you will see that we have had our fair share of disappointing afternoon teas. Le Chalet seemed to be a shimmering oasis in a desert of dry and flaky scones – but did it live up to expectations? We ordered two classic afternoon teas and whilst my friend asked for an English breakfast tea, I decided to opt for the exotic sounding Butterfly Dance (blooming) tea. Upon being presented with two attractive glass teapots, I was able to see why my tea earns its name. A large ball of green tea lay at the bottom of my pot, but slowly unfurled to reveal beautiful Jasmine, Lily and Marigold flowers. It had a delicate but floral taste and was extremely refreshing, especially after a long day of cheap coffee scraped from the bottom of the staff room coffee jar.
After a short time, our afternoon tea stand arrived, and we were not disappointed.
On the three tiered, contemporary slate stand we had our chosen sandwiches, smoked salmon with dill and lemon and cured ham and mustard on the bottom layer. There were more sandwiches on offer, but being given the choice of exactly what you’d like is a rare but pleasing idea. Too often with afternoon teas you end up with a few sandwiches that no one wants (in my experience it’s the mayonnaise smeared ones: the work of the Devil). Being able to design your own afternoon tea is a great idea and one that will hopefully be very popular. Our sandwiches were delicious – the bread was soft and freshly baked and the filling was generous and obviously top quality ingredients.
After that sumptuously savoury starter, our eyes moved up to the next layer, which held yet more bite-sized delights in the form of salmon mousse canapés, small chocolate cream éclairs, walnut chocolate brownies, vanilla cream slices and dreamy little creamy choux balls that, I was reliably informed, are called chouquettes. Ooh la la! Each treat was delightful in its own way. Every bite-sized morsel stood up on its own in terms of taste and quality and the variety of textures, like the crisp mille-feuille top of the cream slices and the rich, fudgy brownie, made it a real sensual overload. And we’d not even ventured on to the top layer. Oh Oui!
The top layer held delicate pink macarons, a miniature almond tart, tiny strawberry tarts and two scones, warm and freshly baked. Not yet full to the brim with cake-shaped joy, we marvelled at the generous jam tray that accompanied the cakes; they had the classic strawberry jam and honey alongside the interesting and toothsome combinations of rose and raspberry, ginger and rhubarb and gooseberry and elderflower. All were equally delectable and really brought the tea to a wonderful end.
In the search for a brilliant and affordable afternoon tea, as well as friendly, warm service, you need look no further: Le Chalet is waiting for you. Vive la France!Le Chalet 31-32 Park Row Leeds LS1 5JD 0113 243 0576 http://le-chalet.co.uk