Paula McIntyre is a food writer and broadcaster. She has cooked in restaurants all over the UK including L'Escargot and Langan's Brasserie in London and her own restaurant in Manchester where she won multiple awards. She is now a lecturer in catering and gives cooking demonstrations around the country.
Asked to name Northern Ireland's five best venues for afternoon tea, she recommends...
Ballylagan Organic Farm Tea Room
I had a scone here at the beginning of the recently. It was made with fresh cherries that was worth a 50 mile round trip alone. Meats, eggs and vegetables come straight from the farm to the tearoom so quality is tip top and the baking first class.
Straid, Ballyclare, 028 93322867 www.ballylagan.com
The Vintage Tea Rooms
Housed in a ground floor room of the old Manor House hotel, this quirky tearoom with its mish mash of crockery is well worth a visit. Lovely baked cakes and scones are served with tea or really good Italian coffee. You’ll not get delicate cucumber sandwiches here but they do serve an excellent hog roast bap!
The Culloden Hotel
The Culloden is the epitome of old world charm and opulence. At afternoon tea expect delicate pastries, light as a feather macaroons, beautiful sandwiches and the best of baking generally. Teas like Earl Grey and Rose petal are specially blended to complement the baking and service is excellent. You can of course have a glass of Champagne if you feel like a real treat.
Bangor Road, Holywood. 028 9042 1066 www.hastingshotels.com
Old Post Office
The Old Post Office is the ultimate in quaintness. Afternoon tea is presented beautifully - the way your Granny would have when she was trying to impress! Cakes and pastries are all made in house by the owner - a pastry chef. The Old Post Office also includes a gift shop where arts and crafts by local artists can be browsed to work up an appetite.
Lisbane, Comber, 028 9754 3335 www.theoldpostofficelisbane.co.uk
The Kissin’ Crust
The only problem you’ll have here is deciding what to have from the vast array of delicious bakery on offer. Scones, tray bakes like Pineapple delights, cakes, fruit cake, brownies, lavender shortcake…..Coffee is excellent and the service charming and friendly.
Lisnaskea, County Fermanagh, 028 6772 2678
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