Nestled in Nottingham’s famous Lace Market, Italian wine café chain Veeno has recently launched its own version of the classic English Afternoon Tea, including a selection of focaccia, meats and cheese, chocolate cake, lemon cake and scones with mascarpone and strawberry jam.
Introduced in Britain in 1840 by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, Afternoon Tea has since become a great British tradition. Veeno has spruced up the British tradition with an Italian version, including the use of focaccia instead of conventional finger sandwiches. I had the pleasure of sampling the Afternoon Tea.
When shown to the table, we were greeted with a glass of the house Prosecco, which was incredibly light, with just the right amount of apple and pear, making the Prosecco perfectly balanced.
“We welcomed the warm and hearty focaccia with open arms”
The Afternoon Tea was served on a traditional tiered cake stand. The bottom layer, which included a selection of focaccia, meats and cheese was definitely my favourite layer. We welcomed the warm and hearty focaccia with open arms, with the ham, cheese and pesto immediately establishing Veeno’s Italian version of the British tradition. I would have liked some rosemary and sea salt on my focaccia to excite my taste buds. I would have liked a greater selection of meats and cheeses; the only meat available was prosciutto. Despite this, the bottom layer was wonderfully Italian.
The middle layer included one scone, served with mascarpone and strawberry jam. The rich, buttery, and slightly tangy flavour of the mascarpone was a wonderful alternative to traditional clotted cream, and this flavour worked fabulously with the candied sweetness of the strawberry jam. I was disappointed that the scones were served cold. Moreover, the scones themselves were rather dense, and didn’t possess the magical freshness that scones have when they have just come out of the oven. I absolutely adore scones, but unfortunately didn’t enjoy the scone, and found myself smothering the cold scone in mascarpone and strawberry jam to disguise the heavy texture.
The top layer included one piece of chocolate cake and one piece of lemon cake between two people. I thought that the portion sizes were incredibly limited, considering the fact that the Afternoon Tea costs £19.99 per person, with each guest not having their own piece of each cake.
The lemon cake was pleasant, but did not possess the wow factor that I expect from a cake on the top layer. For me, the sharpness of Italian lemons are completely unique and should be celebrated. The lemon cake lacked the sharpness that Italian lemons possess, which made me forget that I was sampling Italian Afternoon Tea.
“I opted for a Cappuccino, which was very pleasant, with the right balance of bitter espresso and foamy milk.”
The chocolate cake was incredibly dry, and definitely needed to be accompanied with a sauce of some sort to disguise its dryness. I think the fact that the cake required an accompanied sauce implies that this is not the sort of cake that should be served with Afternoon Tea. For me, the top layer should always have a selection of dainty desserts that do not require any accompaniments. Unfortunately, the top layer failed to provide such a selection. After we finished the Afternoon Tea, we were served coffee. I opted for a Cappuccino, which was very pleasant, with the right balance of bitter espresso and foamy milk.
“The staff are true advocates for the greatness of Italian cuisine”
The interior of Veeno accompanied the food wonderfully, with the dark wooden furniture and dimmed lighting reminding me of a quaint Italian restaurant. Veeno truly does celebrate great wine, with wine bottles being displayed throughout the café. The service at Veeno cannot be faulted; all of the staff were extremely attentive and caring. The staff are true advocates for the greatness of Italian cuisine, and continually demonstrated their passion for quality ingredients throughout our dining experience.
Priced at £19.99 per person, Veeno’s Afternoon Tea burns quite the hole in a student’s pocket. I don’t think that this Afternoon Tea offers good value for money and there are better alternatives for Afternoon Tea in Nottingham. I was expecting the Afternoon Tea to celebrate the much loved flavours of Italy, but I felt like this wasn’t achieved as the middle and top layers were underwhelming versions of a traditional British Afternoon Tea.
Overall, I think that the idea of sprucing up the traditional British Afternoon Tea is wonderful, but the whole Afternoon Tea itself needs to match that idea.
Images courtesy of Jack Strawbridge.