It's time for tea
Willow Tea Rooms, 97 Buchanan Street, Glasgow G1 3HF, Tel:0141 204 5242
£10-15 per head.
Greetings for the festive season. For me, this time of year always means childhood and family, for me inextricably linked to Scotland. What better reason to take the reviews up north of the border.
Fans of architecture, design, or art nouveu will recognise the name Charles Rennie Mackintosh, whose inspiration features heavily in the Willow Tea Rooms both currently and historically. According to the Tea Room’s website, Mackintosh met one of his most generous patrons, Kate Cranston in the Buchanan St Tea rooms, next door to this place. Both floors of the tearoom are lovingly recreated in his style. There’s also a little shop where fans can buy decorative ornaments, jewellery and the like. More details on the history and inspiration can be found on the website. Onto the tea.
I loved the feeling of walking in here on a Boxing Day afternoon for lunch. In the heart of town, located just yards from the Royal Concert Hall and Buchanan Galleries and across the road from Forbidden Planet, whether your thing is shopping, sci-fi or culture this place is ideally located. There was something really calming about the contrast between the hustle and bustle of one of the busiest pedestrianized streets in Glasgow and into a scene from the 1920s.
For the tea lovers, there are a selection of black, green and herbal teas, including a refreshing, comforting houseblend. The coffee is freshly ground as well, but this is probably more a coffee than tea place. As well as universal favourites such as scrambled eggs, the menu boasts a range of traditional Scottish fare from porridge for breakfast to Cullen Skink, Scottish Rarebit or Arbroath Smokies for lunch. There is also a full afternoon tea. All the produce is sourced locally and promises to be of the best quality.
The Rarebit really was lovely, the Lockerbie cheese with generous mustard definitely hit the spot. The portion size was also just right, I felt full without feeling stuffed. If I’m honest, the bread let it down a bit. I would have preferred fresher bread or bread baked on the day rather than what felt like presliced, shop bread. An option for brown bread would have been nice too.
The Arbroath smokies, which are always delicious, came with a full potato and if you’re going for this, I’d recommend bringing your hunger with you.
There is also a delicious selection of sweet baked treats: scones; tarts; pastries; and meringues. As a long term fan of lemon meringue pie, there was only ever one option for me. And when you see it, you’ll understand why.
The meringue was gooey and perfect, piled high and generous. I’d have liked a bit more lemon curd in there, but it was great, as was the pastry case.
Service was a little slow, but it was a little busy when I visited. The woman waiting our table was lacking in a little festive cheer, not smiling once or making eye contact. But then it was Boxing Day and I think hangovers are allowed, or maybe she didn’t get the puppy she was hoping for. Generally staff seemed friendly and welcoming.
All in all, this is a great place, tucked away in plain sight on Buchanan Street and well worth a visit, make sure you make time for it next time you’re passing. You never know, you might get yourself a trip through time and space.