Posted by: mikeydude | January 3, 2010

Afternoon Tea Merlins @ Celtic Manor Newport Review (6/10)

High Tea anyone?

It’s been a really cold winter this year and so prior to the long drive back to Southampton from Cardiff we decided to visit my favourite local hotel for some afternoon tea. They were doing some kind of Christmas deal which included festive treats such as freshly baked mince pies and yule logs at a fairly substantial £20 per person. I needed to see what this was all about!

Aside from my reservation not being in their books, the service was almost flawless as usual. The setting of the bar/restaurant Merlins is nice and you can get beautiful views of the surrounding hills if you sit outside during the summer. In the winter you have a full size snooker table as well as a cosy log fire at the end of the room. There are also nice plush sofa chairs to just get lost in during a lazy afternoon.

Anyway as I was saying, the Christmas afternoon tea consisted of 3 rungs of sandwiches, scones, and pastries/cakes. Here’s the full list.

Assortment of Finger Sandwiches

Smoked Salmon with Cream Cheese
Cucumber and Dill Crème Fraiche
York Ham and Pickled Cucumber with Wholegrain Mustard
Egg Mayonnaise with Parsley and Cress
Roasted Usk Valley Turkey Breast with Cranberry Sauce
Cheddar Cheese and Tomato with Branston Pickle

I was assigned these by the Mrs as she prefers sweet to savoury. Despite how nice they sound, they didn’t actually taste anything special. In fact they were far too ordinary and there was far too little filling in each sandwich. Thumbs down from me except the glorious combination of turkey and cranberry sauce. That was the only one I would eat again.

Freshly Baked Buttermilk Scones With Cornish Clotted Cream and Home-Made Strawberry Jam

This was essentially the Carleon choice that I made (See later)

Pastries and Cakes

Miniature Mince Pies

The Mrs praised this for the best mince pie she had ever had. Mind you that’s not particularly much praise as she so seldomly eats them!

Festive Chocolate Yule Log

This was made fairly well with a nice oozing chocolate centre. The sponge was also quite soft.

Miniature Fruit Tartlets

Didn’t taste this one but I was told that the pastry base was done nicely.

Caramel Éclair with Gingerbread Chantilly Cream

I forgot to shoot a picture of this but it was an fairly good attempt at the french classic. Light pastry bun with cream inside and a caramel top.

Grand Marnier Madeleine

Forgot to shoot a picture of this one as well but I can tell you I think they need a lesson or two from the flagship restaurant Crown who make them much better!

I had the classic Caerleon Tea (£8.50) which is much better value I think!

This baked plate of delights were delicious. The welsh cakes tasted as though they were straight out the oven, although I still prefer the ones I bought from Bridgend once (whiskey welsh cakes) that had won the True Taste Gold Award. Those were ultra delicious.

Even better were the scones especially if you forget about your waistline and add lots of clotted cream and jam. I could not think of a better combination to go with afternoon tea. I wonder if that jam is homemade….

A wonderful afternoon spent in the Celtic Manor was supplemented by some pretty good food. However we both agreed that the Caerleon was much better value than the Christmas selection. I think that was hideously overpriced and the quality of the sandwiches rather appalling. Despite that the scones and welsh cakes were excellent and the Mrs enjoyed her sweet tier very much indeed. Speaking of teas, I hear there’s a great place in Penylan Cardiff which I must try as they also serve home made cakes!


Merlins Bar
Coldra Woods
The Usk Valley
South Wales
NP18 1HQ

Tel: +44 (0)1633 413 000

Opening Hours:

Bar: Monday – Sunday 9.00am – 1.00am
Snack Menu: 12.00pm – 10.30pm
Afternoon Tea: 2.30pm – 4.30pm


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