Walking past eteaket on Edinburgh’s Frederick St several times, I have been intrigued by their clever branding and pretty styling. Recently boutique tea houses, like Morningside’s Loopy Lornas, and the very tradition of afternoon tea have undergone somewhat of a renaissance. I’ve always been partial to afternoon tea and the allure of enjoying this tradition in Edinburgh city centre proved too much this Saturday. With the rain splashing on eteaket’s outdoor seating, we soon found ourselves entering eteaket’s charming facade and obediently waiting by the “please wait here to be seated” sign.
It was no surprise to find eteaket extremely busy, especially with groups of women enjoying a respite from the shopping crowds. However, it was a surprise to see eteaket’s staff brush past us as if we were invisible. Had it not been for the sight of the delicious looking cakes, mini scones and chocolate brownies we would have taken our trade elsewhere long before we found ourselves walking towards the counter. Once there we were hardly greeted, but did have some menus pushed towards us, which we took as a sign to wait for a table.
A chirpier waitress shortly explained that a table would be free soon and 10 minutes later we were directed to the bright seats of the ‘lounge’. After the time we’d spent absorbing the grandeur and finish of the eteaket’s front room, the backroom gave the impression of economy class, against the first class of our waiting room. A range of sandwiches, light meals, teas and treats constitute eteaket’s menu, but we had eyes only for eteaket’s afternoon tea at Â£9.85 each. This offers a sandwich of your choice, scone with jam and creme and a small collection of mini cakes.
A few minutes after ordering the waitress came out to advise there were no New York deli sandwiches “made up” and did I want to reorder or wait an indeterminable period for my afternoon tea to arrive. Not appreciating the time consuming nature of placing pastrami, mustard and pickle between two slices of bread I stuck with my original choice, but agreed that one afternoon tea could be served before the other. Five minutes later our tea, complete with quirky hourglass timers to indicate optimum brew, arrived. Fifteen minutes later both afternoon teas arrived on a single cake stand.
The irritation at the almost nonchalant service and slowness to prepare a very simple product, was overcome somewhat by two deliciously fresh sandwiches, helped by the quite brilliant soft multigrain bread. The scones were excellent - light and obviously baked earlier in the day. All the mini cakes had their own merits, but the mini banoffees really were delicious and the chocolate brownies passed the Blog’s Brownie Barometer test. My “rare” tea, Oriental Oolong, carried a 40p supplement but it went down a treat, as did our other choice of second flush Darjeeling.
The great concept, colourful marketing, quality food and tea offerings make it clear why eteaket has become such a popular tea house in Edinburgh city centre, in such a short time. It’s just a shame the service failed to show the same panache as eteaket’s product.
eteaket is located at 41 Frederick Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1EP
Telephone: 0131 226 2982