It was only as my anger subsided a little, that it struck me. What if a lone, single person wanted to take afternoon tea at the Allan Park Hotel? Admittedly, I do know the rest of the world would consider solitary tea an odd thing to engage in. But I used to go alone, and like it, quite often in my younger days. And the reason for us doing a recce this week, was so Pippi could be taken somewhere nice when she arrives. And she often has tea alone.
There was much to annoy very slightly, and taken one thing at a time, not much to get worked up about. But I’d had high[er] hopes for this newly opened hotel in Stirling, based on the advertising and their supposed extensive experience of running hotels and bars. And with it so conveniently situated that we could walk there… well, it couldn’t be better.
Except it could.
Three of us tried to have afternoon tea in a hotel that offers a price for two to have tea. We shouldn’t have. Whereas the lovely young server said we could just pay a little extra, it soon became much more of a trial. Me, I’d simply have added 50% to the bill and be done with it. Although, for that, I’d also expect three of every item there was two of.
‘Slight’ inflexibility in choice. We were allowed to both have the prawn sandwich, but it was strictly either cake, or macaroons and churros. What if you have an incompatible couple, where one hates one thing and the other hates the other thing? Easy. You go somewhere else.
In the end, I had to point out that I didn’t mind what I paid (well, obviously I did, but…) as long as they actually provided the three of us with what we wanted, which was [the set] tea for two, and another tea for Daughter, and churros. But because the Resident IT Consultant and I were having cake, that did not go down well.
In the end, they conceded we could order churros for one, because it could count as a child’s pudding, and would come with ice cream. The server, who looked younger than Daughter – who is an adult – simpered at her and treated her like a child. It was going to be so good, and really cheap, too. (Not when the cost of tea was added, it wasn’t.)
The tea. Yes. We ordered Earl Grey. We have no idea what we got, but if it said Earl Grey on the tin, it wasn’t Earl Grey in the pot. It was drinkable, albeit in far too small a quantity. And milk had to be asked for separately. (Yes, we are so uncouth that we have milk in Earl Grey.)
The tea took ages to arrive. And that was after waiting ages to place our order. Then there were lots more ages while we waited for something to eat, and the tea steeped and got too strong, and could have done with plenty of hot water to add to it.
We suspect it was making the sandwiches that caused some of the delay. They were clearly freshly made, and they were nice. However, after eating them we had two prawny plates and a prawny knife. The Resident IT Consultant solved the knife conundrum by licking it clean, and in the end we shifted plates around from the cake stand so we could eat scones and cake without prawn sauce.
The scones were OK if a little dry. There was not nearly enough cream for two such large scones, however. So, drier still. The selection of jams was raspberry. Or raspberry. We chose the raspberry.
The cakes were quite decent. Not the best, but perfectly edible. I gather the churros were OK too.
Food fine. Tea a bit wanting.
Before setting off home, I went to the Ladies. Someone had forgotten to paint the inside of the doors. Somehow leaving them merely undercoated detracted a bit from the pleasant effect they must have been aiming for. And, I didn’t spend long, but the light still went out while I was in there. It being afternoon, and October, I wasn’t left in the dark, but I disapprove of time settings like that. It feels cheap, and it could lead to accidents and panic.
It proved as hard to pay as it did to order. Our server was nowhere to be seen, and eventually the bartender shouted something to me from his end of the room. I couldn’t hear what. Seems he wondered whether we wanted to pay… What else would I be doing next to the till after having had a meal?
As I said earlier, the churros and the extra pot of tea cost almost as much as a third afternoon tea would have, had they been willing to let us have that. It’s not the money. It’s having to negotiate for food in a restaurant.
Pippi will be having afternoon tea somewhere else.