Cake, cake, cake. Then a tiny sandwich. Then some more cake. You’d think I’d be bored by now. Or full. Or fat. I’m not. And believe it or not I do manage to find time to eat a great many other diverse and wonderful things too.
But back to cake. In Newcastle city centre we’ve got The French Oven doing a fine job in the Grainger Market, the Great British Cupcakery inviting people into their beautiful parlour on the Quayside and Sugar Down on Pink Lane, luring people in with their window displays piled high with treats. But perhaps one of the most outrageous is Olive & Bean on Clayton Street. They do ridiculous portions of all kinds of wonderful over-sized tray bakes. I can’t help but get excited when faced with the prospect of eating some, and daunted by the idea of having to chose only one.
The good news is they offer Afternoon Tea at £15 (or upgrade to £19.95) for two people which comes with a selection of cakes. You will leave the café utterly stuffed. I practically guarantee that you will not need to eat any more cake for at least the rest of the day, depending on your personal sweet tooth and level of cake tolerance. In fact, you may need to drag your visit out for a few hours and lie down on one of their slouchy sofas during/after stuffing your face.
The Afternoon Tea at The Olive & Bean comes as either the classic tea or the luxury tea. They’ve recently had a bit of a makeover and their menu has changed along with the décor. The first course of their new Afternoon Tea (we went for the luxury one) consists of 4 different kinds of sandwich centred around a pot of really nicely marinated olives. The sandwiches were pretty good, there were maybe a few too many jalapeños in the tuna mayo sandwich, which kind of overpowered everything eaten after that, but the overall tastes were great and the apple, cheddar and pickle sandwich was surprisingly good.
I’d recommend you try not to fill up too much on the sandwiches, wonderful though they are, because your next course is two enormous scones, the cheese one served with butter and mango chutney, the fruit one complete with jam and cream, natch. The scones here are obviously freshly baked in-house and expertly so. The cream is a traditional clotted variety and again plenty is supplied, with a few fresh strawberries stuck in the top for decoration, and extra nibbles.
By now you will certainly be in dire need of something to wash down all of the carbs you are putting away. Olive & Bean provide either a pot of loose Quilliam Brothers tea or a cafetiere of Union coffee, with top ups of hot water available upon request. Not too many afternoon tea places offer a coffee alternative
Last but almost laughably not least are the cakes. On this particular visit we are served 8 ‘small’ squares of 4 different kinds of tray-bake. There’s a moist carrot cake with frosting, a packed out rocky road, a coffee cake and a peanut butter bake. ALL. SO. GOOD. Although I did feel these were not a selection of their best, I’ve had better from the counter downstairs, they were all more than edible. Especially seeing as by this point I could barely breathe past all the food. There was also a bowl of fresh strawberries, raspberries and blueberries which went really well to freshen up each mouthful of cake. A success story all round. A change from the Olive & Bean’s old routine, yes, but a change for the better I reckon.
Good work Olive & Bean, good work.
Pay a visit to Olive and Bean and experience their tasty Afternoon Tea offerings (and the rest!) for yourself… 17-19 Clayton Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 5PN. Open 7 days a week, 8am – 6pm (Mon – Sat) and 10am – 5pm (Sunday).