Afternoon tea is one of those delightful British institutions thats enjoying something of a revival.
It's a chance to check out of hectic everyday life into something altogether more genteel.
So we were delighted to have the chance to savour afternoon tea with the lovely people at The Angel Hotel in Bury St Edmunds. I say, lovely, because not ony was the food delicious, but the service was gentle, friendly and attentive and contributed so much to the whole experience. Not too much and not too little.
The afternoon tea menu will vary, but on this occasion we began with a platter of sandwiches, but it was when we saw the three tier cake stand that we got excited. Starting at the top - cupcakes, carrot cake and chocolate cake served with ice cream.
I like chocolate cake as much as the next person, but this was something exceptional, with the crunchy crust of a brownie but an inside that was soft and melting with a chocolate mousse texture.
I enjoy cake so much that I've become quite critical of modern day confections. I've a horror - for instance - of the articial-tasting cupcakes that are offered in many places. These, by contrast, were freshly made, with a light buttery taste and a frothy topping of frosting.
It was the same with the carrot cake - light as a feather. The scones, served warm, had the hallmarks too of being made by people who understand cakes aren't just about appearance - they're about flavour and texsture too!
Afternoon tea at The Angel was in their comfortable lounge with its charming and skillfully coordinated artworks, lamps, cushions and squashy sofas. We could have chosen to sit by the roaring log fire, but finding that a little warm, found a quiet corner.
All too soon our escape from the 21st century was over - although, it must be said, we were under no pressure to leave! - and we were pitched back, feeling good and full, into the bustling town centre, drizzly rain and traffic.
Afternoon tea at The Angel in Bury St Edmunds is served daily between 2.30 and 6.00. It's also available at the sisiter hotel, the Salthouse Harbour Hotel in Ipswich, where you can relax in the waterfront eaterie and soak up the atmosphere.
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