I hope they aren't just a fad and that they are here to stay.
I've had a few suggestions as to why tearooms are surging in popularity and are in vogue at present. Firstly we seem to be regressing in time, during the early 1900s Tearooms became popular as an alternative to drinking and seen to be as a popular place for women. With the expulsion of smoking inside and drinking being highly publicised as being bad for you we seem to be looking for alternatives once more and have turned once again to tearooms. Have a nice cup of tea and a slice of cake and have a natter.
The second suggestion being that most people are steadily growing an aversion to the mass (mainly American) coffee shops that all look the same and serve the same things. We're British and our non official drink of choice is tea. The people want tea goddammit!
There is also something very British about sitting down to cream/afternoon/high tea. The royal wedding, the jubilee, the olympics etc we're all loving being very British at the moment... and why shouldn't we! It's about time we fought back and dug our heels in refusing to be changed by so called Americanisms, Europisms etc. Don't get me wrong I love a good Indian, Chinese, Japenese, French, Spanish etc restaurant but I also love to be British.
So on another Saturday I find myself looking for somewhere for a light refreshment and turn to the humble tearoom once again rather than a cafe which would of most likely been more of an option a decade ago.
The Victoria Tearooms in Saltaire is almost hidden and I wonder if most people pass it by without even noticing it's there. It's beneath a humble bakery you'd perhaps only realised if you went inside the bakery or notice the small sign on the floor outside the shop.
Trying not to fall down the spiral staircase you happen upon a surprisingly large basement tearoom. I felt like I was being transported in to a tearoom my grandmother would have dreamed up, the whole place is covered in different teapots. Small teapots, large teapots, animal teapots, house teapots.. you get the idea there are A LOT of teapots.
On a cold day don't sit near the windows as they are a little draughty.
You choose your own table and once you have looked over the menu(s) a waitress will come and take your order.
Both me and my fellow tearoom diner decided upon an afternoon tea which consisted of a teacake (or crumpet if you prefer) a pot of tea and a slice of cake.
The cakes change daily so you will need to get up and have a look in the display cabinets to choose you option.
My toasted teacake was fine, a nice size not too small and it came with a choice of butter and jam.
The tea was Yorkshire so top points from me for that.
For my slice of cake I decided to go for good old faithful Victoria Sponge and my partner chose spiced carrot cake. Both were just okay, we could tell that the cakes had been baked to last longer... a bit too moist and sugary and perhaps a bit dry around the edges.
I guess with tearooms so hidden you don't know how many customers you're going to get from one day to the next.
Overall the experience was pleasant and I noticed that a couple of the other diners that day were feasting on pork pie and mushy peas, something which would hit the spot on a cold day.
The afternoon tea we had cost £4.95 each which was reasonable. I would probably go again if my favourite tearoom up the road was too full or closed...
Victoria Tearooms Saltaire
Below Salts Bakery
8 Victoria Road