In any small British town there are a few things that you can always find a pub with a lot of history, a bench where old people gather, and tea rooms. Broadway has all of these and in particular it has a LOT of tearooms, or cafes, if you prefer.
I have long since found the perfect cake back home in Canada (they are made by a bakery known as Tiny Cakes) so I decided that with all of these adorable tea rooms I would do the same here and thus the hunt for the perfect cake began! (Que the dramatic fanfare)
The first stop on this noble quest was Tisanes Tea Rooms.
Located near the Broadway hotel, Tisanes’ is nestled between a large gated house (no idea what it is) and a gift store called All My Heart. Like all of the buildings on the High Street, Tisanes is a yellow stone building and i actually the oldest of the tea rooms in Broadway with the building itself dating back to the 17th century. One of my favorite features of Tisane’s visage was how they chose to decorate the large picture window with an impressive assortment of vintage tea containers.
Like most stores in Broadway, Tisanes is more ‘long’ than wide as far as spacing goes with single and double person tables spread throughout and only a few larger tables in the front and in the gorgeous outdoor garden area which was bustling on the sunny day that I chose to pop in.
The first thing you will notice upon entering Tisanes is the lack of direction. Most places in roadway have signs that say either ‘Please wait to be Seated’ or ‘Please choose a seat’. Tisanes has neither and you are left wondering whether you should stand their awkwardly beside someone enjoying their tea and scones or if you should wander in and sit your butt down.
Once you DO discover that you have to ask a waitress to be seated, as they help you find your ideal seat (I.E how many people and in or out) you are enveloped in the cheery bustle of the place. Their is something quite comforting about a full tea room filled with chatty locals and tourists alike that just brings a smile to your face.
The bustle can loose its charm however as Tisanes is rather cramped for moving pace when it is full. There is not a lot of space to move and I suspect that quite a few guests have gotten a tad TOO close to their neighbors at one point or another while trying to either get up, sit down or head off to the loo in the back. Luckily the garden seating does offer a respite from this lack of space in the warmer months – though it must get pretty hectic when it is closed in the Winter or on rainy days.
The garden itself is an excellent it of extra space for guests with larger tables, comfortable chairs and full sun shielding umbrellas for those rare days when the sun does shine here (I wish that was a joke). The garden is tended beautifully with famous Cotswold lavender and other flowers providing a beautiful atmosphere to sitting in while partaking in your meal.
The decor as far as furniture is a tad odd however out in the garden. It is much more modern than the rest of Tisanes and there is quite a disconnect between the main tea room and garden seating area that may throw some people off and kind of takes away from the feel of the vintage tea room look they are going for.
The waitresses of Tisane’s (I only saw girls while I was there) were all bustling around like bumblebees and sometimes it was hard to tell how they were actually organized. Did they just help customers as they went or were they all assigned different areas or tables? It was pretty much impossible to tell. Regardless, they were all super friendly and made time to check on everyone at regular intervals.
Their uniforms seemed to be quite simple with all of then wearing some sort of black based attire with black flats. The only thing that really tied them all together and let customers know that worked there were adorable mall frilly white aprons that looked like slightly modern versions of the aprons worn by maids in the Victorian era.
The cutest thing about the staff though is how shocked they get when you leave a tip. It is just good manners in Canada to leave a tip even if you have a horrible experience (you just leave a crap tip) so it bothers me how this is not a thing as much in the UK.
The Food (Only based on sweets)
Tisanes’ has a pretty great selection when it comes to cakes and unlike most of the tea rooms I have been to, they have some that are ALWAYS on the menu meaning you can always come back for your favorite. This is great when you have allergies like I do as you always know that there are safe options for you.
Anywho, the main selection of cakes include: Chocolate Fudge, Victorian Fruit Cake, Coffee & Walnut, Victorian Sponge, Carrot, Gluten Free, Ginger and Lemon Drizzle. Seeing as many of these have allergens for me (looking at you Carrot and Walnut) or I have tried before, I was left with 3 options – Victorian Fruit, Sponge or Lemon Drizzle. I chose Victorian Sponge.
The cake itself was presented to me a beautiful golden yellow colour. It is a two layer cake and strawberry jelly nestled between the layers and light coating of sugar sprinkled on top. Not powdered sugar. Just plain sugar.
As soon as I heard the term ‘sponge’ I assumed that the cake would be quite fluffy and, well, spongy with a sweet flavor but I was actually surprised to discover the opposite. Victorian Sponge is a much denser cake, more similar in texture to say a sweet bread. Ultimately the sweetness of the cake is supplied by the buttercream, jelly and sugar on top.
Frankly I loved it. It was super tasty and not overtly sweet like I was thinking it may be (I often find Sponge cakes too sweet especially when you add buttercream icing). This lack of sweetness was especially awesome when you consider the fact that I choose to have a hot chocolate as my beverage of choice.
On the topic of ho chocolate – British people have it down pat. Over in North America, our hot chocolate is very sweet which means that adding marshmallows and whip cream as fun extras is almost always overkill and it is rarely the kind of drink you can enjoy with say cake or cookies as it becomes a sweetness overload on you senses. British hot chocolate is much less sweet, being more akin to dark chocolate rather than light, which means you can enjoy it with a slice of cake like I did without being killed by sweetness!
Overall rating: 4/5
Overall I would say that Tisanes is an early contender for the crown of ‘Best Cake in Broadway’ and I will have to wait and see if anyone can
Next time on Backpacks and Broomsticks: I spend the night at the Manor House Hotel!