The lack of posts recently might suggest that things have been quiet on the north eastern eating front. In reality I’ve still been out and about scoffing things, I’ve just been somewhat held back from blogging by a lack of photos. My iPhone 4 recently bit the dust taking a lot of photos of yet to be reviewed meals with it (backup your phone kids!). It seems I’ve lost a lot of photos and I’ve held off posting about new visits until I was able to take some decent snaps too as I think they are important as part of review posts. Hopefully the delicious looking photo of the afternoon tea I recently enjoyed at St Mary’s Inn within this post will have you in agreement!
I headed to St Mary’s Inn a few weeks ago for a Friday afternoon trip out with my auntie. Auntie Pamela loves eating out and trying new places, so she’s always a willing dinner partner! As she’s disabled, I always look for places for us to visit that are easily accessible and have convenient parking. I’m happy to say St Mary’s fits the bill on both fronts, though it does require some navigating to as you may remember from my previous post. We hadn’t booked in advance but the waitress was able to find us a table and noted our request to be at the edge of the room for ease of movement. It didn’t take Auntie Pamela long to spot the afternoon tea on the menu and though I’d intended to make Slimming World friendly choices I had been dying for an excuse to try it, so I didn’t take too much persuading!
I’ve read some mixed reviews on Tripadvisor recently about service at St Mary’s. On my first visit I was invited by the owners and so you’d perhaps expect the service to be nothing less than awesome (as it was). I’m pleased to say it was once again fantastic when the waiting staff had no clue I was a blogger. Our waitress once again displayed good knowledge of the menu – asking which scones we would prefer and talking about their relative merits and the coffee which we ordered was promptly delivered. My Auntie struggled with the dainty coffee cup so we were quickly presented with a large St Mary’s mug and thoughtfully, a pot of coffee so that it would stay hot so she could pour it out gradually. The waitress also brought out some cream at the request of my Auntie instead of milk. There was around a 15 minute wait for the food, which I think is very reasonable during a busy service when not pre-ordered.
The tea was presented beautifully and smelled amazing – we chose a mixture of cheese and plain scones, both came warm with some raspberry jam and cream. Sandwiches were smoked salmon with homemade tartar, cream cheese and cucumber, salted beef and ham and pease pudding. On the dessert tier was a macaron with lemon meringue filling, individual Bakewell tarts, Eton mess and rich chocolate brownie with a rich chocolate ganache.
The cheese scones were gorgeous – with no bitter bicarb aftertaste (unlike my experience of another afternoon tea venue in the region that everyone raves about!). The smoked salt beef sandwich was probably my favourite while my aunty enjoyed the homemade pease pudding. There was no skimping on the jam or cream for the scones and the almond pastry on the Bakewell tart was some of the best I’ve ever had. The Macarons were light and chewy, though I’d have been happy to have them without the thin buttercream layer with the lemon curd filling only. We loved the brownies but saved half for later as they were quite rich. The waitress brought us a box to take our tea remnants away with us and asked us both what we had enjoyed.
Overall we found service to be attentive and genuine, so we left a good tip. I’ve been struggling with service recently in the region if I’m honest. I’ve been for an afternoon tea at a popular venue where I was kept waiting half an hour despite booking, only to be ignored while staff cleaned tables (which weren’t going to be used again until the next day). Then, there have been instances where waiting staff just haven’t bothered asking if things were enjoyed and some acknowledging feedback about things being overcooked by saying; “Ok, do you want dessert?” so I can honestly say in the past year my two visits to St Mary’s have stood out.
The afternoon tea at £14.95 is just one of the things on St Mary’s very varied menu , which always features a few additional daily specials on the board, I’m keen to try the pie night, which you can read about over on Newcastle Eats and the Sunday Lunch is on the to-do list too. Shaun Hurrell may have departed St Mary’s Inn to take on the world of tacos with Barrio Comida (and boy are those tacos good – post coming up soon!) but hopefully St Mary’s will retain high standards. I look forward to a return visit and in particular I’ll be eagerly waiting to see if they’re planning a Christmas Day menu; there’s talk of skipping Christmas Day cooking in the Berg family this year and heading out for some pampering instead.
Have you been to St Mary’s Inn? What was your experience of the service?