My to-do list is buried deep in my bag, and I can feel all the other practicalities of the day melt away for an hour, as I sit in the elegant tea room on the top floor of Sandersons Boutique, at Fox Valley Sheffield.
The spacious corner cafe is light and airy, decorated in mellow greys, with just the right amount of bustle drifting in from the surrounding store.
The menu is utterly English tea room - with a salad of the day, soup of the day, quiche of the day, plenty of sandwiches, and - of course - more tea choices than you could shake a stick at.
“All the tea is loose leaf, and delicious,” smiles general manager Kathy Johnson, who has been with the independent Vaulkhard Group tea room since it opened its doors last September.
“Of course English breakfast is our most popular choice, by far, but we lots of have wonderful unusual flavours if you fancy trying something different - like black chai masala, or gingerbread.”
My friend and I both order the afternoon tea, with - you guessed it - a cup of English breakfast. When it arrives ten minutes later, it’s a work of art. It comes on a three-tier platter. The bottom tier has four sandwiches - Coronation chicken, egg mayo, tuna mayo, and ham, cheese and pickle. There’s a scone in the middle, with a choice of fruit scone with jam and cream, or cheese scone with onion marmalade. The top tier is your choice of the cakes of the day. There’s a wonderful selection of around six, and we both opt for the mouth-watering chocolate flake cake, which comes with a sprinkling of macaroons on the side.
The sandwiches are all delicious, with plenty of filling - no cucumber slices in sight. I do wish the bread felt a little fresher on a couple, leading me to suspect these have been sat prepped a little while.
The scone is wonderful - fresh and buttery - especially accompanied with real clotted cream. The one shame is that my dining companion has a strawberry allergy and we were a little disappointed there were no other jam flavours to choose from. She ended up slipping down the road to Aldi to buy a 69p jar of raspberry jam!
Chocolate flake cake melted in the mouth and was just light enough to manage after everything else. All in all, a fantastic afternoon tea in a truly lovely setting and, at £12.50 each, we were really happy. Open seven days a week, I would highly recommend Blakes for a delicious break from reality.
Star rating out of five:
Three more to choose from:
Jameson’s Tea Rooms, Abbeydale Road Caffe Leopold, Leopold Street Patisserie Valerie, Barker’s Pool