Early last month I headed over the Severn Bridge to spend a weekend in Cardiff for Traverse 16 – a dedicated travel blogging conference. As well finding a shed load of inspiration and learning tonnes of cool tips, I also got to meet lots of other great bloggers in person, including Melissa from Footsteps on the Globe, Emma from Paper Planes and Caramel Waffles and Lexx from Travel Lexx.
An invitation to afternoon tea
After a day of talks and workshops us lucky bloggers were invited to take part in a Sunday Experience courtesy of Visit Wales, and with my ongoing Global Afternoon Tea Challenge in mind, I chose to partake in afternoon tea at Pettigrew Tea Rooms (and you know, who ever says no to cake?!).
Pettigrew Tea Rooms
So, on a cool but sunny Sunday lunchtime I headed across the city to Bute Park, just next to Cardiff Castle and the amazing Animal Wall. I’d never heard of this before, so absolutely loved wandering down the road taking in the 15 beautifully sculptured animals that make up this decorative wall that was built back in 1890.
After taking way too many photos I arrived at the cute little gatehouse that Pettigrew’s calls home. A bit like the Tardis (which can also be visited in the city thanks to the Dr Who experience) the tea rooms are bigger than you’d expect from the outside, and as I opened the large door I was greeted by a hive of activity. Clearly a favourite of the locals, which is always a good sign, I squeezed through the crowds at the entrance to be greeted by a friendly member of staff who guided me upstairs to my table.
Quaint, old fashioned charm
The gatehouse may have been recently restored, but the tea rooms have kept all of their quaint, old fashioned charm, with cute little tea cups hanging on the staircase and framed pictures of the city covering its walls. I love that use of mismatched furniture and cutlery, so it didn’t take me long to fall in love with its homely, welcoming atmosphere.
After meeting my fellow tea takers, Hannah from Miss Nicklin and Jamie from Explore with Ed, we were brought an impressive tea menu, with a great selection to choose from, which aside from the classics included organic lemongrass and ginger, lavender earl grey, peach noir and organic rose buds.
I treated myself to a pot of jasmine pearls while I perused my afternoon tea options…and options is definitely the right word. Pettigrew’s offers the best personalisation I have ever seen in an afternoon tea, something that is heaven to a picky eater like me.
Spoilt for choice!
Rather than having a set tea you’re invited to choose two sandwich fillings, pick between plain and fruit scones and then request a cake of your choice. Huge brownie points there!
And even your sandwich options are impressive. Not only can you order the classics such as ham and mustard, salmon and cream cheese and beef with horseradish, there’s a total of eight fillings to choose from including brie and fruit chutney and roasted vegetables and hummus.
Having ordered my fillings of choice and happy in the knowledge that I could look forward to a plain scone, it wasn’t long before our tiered trays arrived, filled with chunky sandwiches and fresh scones. As ever, afternoon teas are more filling than you’d think, but the food was so tasty I did manage to finish my scones and, with cake still to come, we headed downstairs to discover what variety of sweet bakes were available.
Cake, glorious cake!
With everything from chocolate and beetroot, carrot and peach melba cake through to early grey and orange sponge and chocolate cheesecake brownie it was so hard to decide, but having not had Victoria sponge in forever, and the fact that the cake was just huge, I went for a slice of the English classic.
Although my mouth really wanted to go for it, my belly was begging for a break and so our lovely waitress offered to box up our cakes to take away. Sad to leave, but happy to have discovered this Cardiff gem, we said our goodbyes and I headed back home, later devouring my Victoria sponge from the comfort of my sofa.
If you, like me, are a lover of afternoon tea then I can’t recommend Pettrigrew’s enough. It may not have the grandeur of the big London hotels and restaurants, but its friendly staff, brilliant menu and delicious food would draw me back in a heartbeat.