It's time for tea
Pettigrew Tea Rooms
Ystafell Te Pettigrew
Bute Park & Arboretum
Tel: 02920 235486
Spring Opening: (NB As Pettigrew Tea Rooms is situated inside the park and the park gates close at dusk, you might want to check when the park is closing when you visit)
The first time I went here, all the way back in April 2013 (sorry Dave….) I came back wanting to write it up straight away, because people needed to know about this gem of a place as soon as possible. I thought it better to hold fire though till I’d had a second trip to add more photos and try more of the wares. Life intervened and before I was able to post…and two trips turned to four. And now I’m overwhelmed with just how much I love this place and filled with fear at not being able to do it justice with my words.
Pettigrew Tea Rooms is the baby of Dave who was once a fellow blogger who followed his dreams and opened up his own place. His pride and love for the Tearooms shines through. Pettigrew Tea Rooms are housed in the West Lodge, built in 1863 and in the shadow of Cardiff Castle (the one-off travel blog called “I LOVE Cardiff” will have to wait till another day) within the amazing Bute Park. (Fellow Doctor Who fans might recognise Bute Park as the location used for filming various episodes – see also, the rest of Cardiff). With its mosaic flooring, vintage décor and music playing softly in the background, this place really earns the title “local gem”. They have both indoor and outdoor seating and in the summer, who wouldn’t want to have their tea with this view?
All ingredients are sourced locally where possible, including locally roasted coffee. On my first visit, I had the afternoon tea. This included a loose leaf tea of your choice from a good sized selection of Tea Palace tea (or other drink); finger sandwiches with two sandwich fillings in a selection of bread; a scone with strawberry jam and clotted cream; and a slice of your choice of cake from those in the cake display. I had the Welsh Cheddar and tomato, Brie and fruit chutney sandwiches washed down with the Breakfast Blend. Something that really impressed me was that as I sat working my way through such generous portions was that someone appeared at my side half way through asking if I wanted more hot water in my teapot. Now, it might be that things are different in London, where I do most of my tea and coffee drinking, but I thought it was a lovely thing to be offered a refreshed pot for free. It certainly makes a lot of sense as the tea was just as good, second time round, albeit with a little extra brewing time.
What can I say about the chocolate and beetroot cake? Besides that by the time it came to cake, I was sufficiently stuffed that I was struggling. Staff were happy to pack up the half eaten slice for me in a biodegradable/recyclable box. I’ve always been a fan of chocolate and beetroot cake, but I have to say I think this one is my favourite, with the moist chocolateyness and subtle beetroot. Plus it counts as one of my five a day, right?
They also do celebration cakes , check the website for details. And just look at the range of cakes I had to choose from!
On a subsequent visit, henceforth known as the weekend of the A’s (In addition to yours truly, A Who, There was AM, AP, AH, plus N) we were blessed with amazing weather and had our sandwiches in the outdoor seating. AP went for egg and mayonnaise, AM for salmon and cream cheese and I just had to have the brie and chutney again. Pettigrew Tearooms obviously subscribe to the same view as me that a good sandwich is completed with proper crisps, and that these are offset by fresh crunchy salad. The cloudy lemonade was just what we needed on the warm summer’s day. We left feeling happily full, cheered by the service (more on which anon) off for a leisurely stroll through the glorious Bute Park.
I have to make special mention of two things I had on another visit where my camera and phone sadly let me down so there are no photos. The parsnip and orange soup is possibly the best soup I’ve ever had in all my life. The orangey zing makes this the most refreshing and invigorating portion of carbs you could hope to have. Seriously, if it’s on the specials board, you’ll not regret jumping at the chance to have it. The lemon drizzle cake is just amazing, it had the perfect ratio of lemon syrup and sugary crust to spongey goodness. Typing that sentence made my mouth water in memory. (Edit to add a picture of said lemon drizzle cake)
Now to talk briefly about the service, particularly from Dave, but spread through the team: “Friendly” isn’t a big enough word….I could take these people home with me to be my best friends, they were so lovely. They’re chatty, jovial, helpful when suggesting specials or other choices, I really couldn’t ask for more. There seems to be a real pride in working here and in providing good quality, delicious local food.
Once you’ve finished your meal, you can also keep some part of the experience going by purchasing a range of the teas and assorted items.
My words are woefully inadequate at conveying how much I love this place. If you live in Cardiff, go now. If you don’t live in Cardiff, plan a weekend there and go if convenient. If inconvenient, go anyway. I know that in just two years of existence, it has joined my list of things I “Must Do in Cardiff” each time I visit. I can’t wait till I can drive down the M4 and visit again.