I had thought the Royal Mile in Edinburgh (the historic cobbled street that links Edinburgh Castle at the top, and Holyrood Palace at the foot) would have been quiet in late February. Everyone knows it’s packed during the festival, but in February? Turns out it’s pretty busy then too. With several tourist groups sightseeing, and a wedding taking place at The Hub, the vibe was certainly bustling.
The Hub, as the name suggests, is in the heart of the action. An iconic landmark on the Edinburgh skyline, The Hub towers over the old town with its classic Victorian architecture.
Inside is a multi-functional building which hosts events, weddings, and features a cafe, which is where we were heading for our afternoon tea.
First things first, let’s discuss Afternoon Tea hierarchy. At the top of the hierarchy, and most expensive (but also most luxurious) would be afternoon tea at destinations such as Prestonfield House or The Balmoral. At the other end of the scale would be afternoon tea at Marks & Spencers – they do a nice afternoon tea which, due to its price, is an affordable treat. In the middle are places like Eteaket and Mimi’s, it’s here where The Hub has positioned itself. At £25 for two people, it’s an informal affair, that isn’t going to set you back too much.
Naturally, expectations differ depending on where in that hierarchy the afternoon tea falls. At the top end, I’m looking for something more than sandwiches, I want complex or unusual flavour combinations and the experience to feel more of a tasting. At the other end I’m happy if the offering is fresh with decent quantities. In the middle, I want homemade and a bit of care in the presentation.
To begin we were presented with a box from which to select our tea, coffee, or hot chocolate. This was a fun way to present ‘the menu’ and reminded of those sensory boxes you used to get at school. We were encouraged to take off lids and have a sniff.
Erin, being 12 and not in the least bit worried about rotting teeth, chose the White Chocolate Hot Chocolate (never really sure if that should just be White Hot Chocolate?), anyway it arrived and there was a little impatience as I tried to capture my photos. As soon as the nod was given she was straight in there and downed it faster than my first gin on a night out. Safe to say it hit the spot, and she said it wasn’t too sweet (not sure whether I believe her!). I chose a Hibiscus Green Tea which pours a bright pink, and was a bit kinder on my teeth.
The first hot drink is included in the afternoon tea, following drinks are paid for separately.
The afternoon tea arrived and it fulfilled my expectations – it was homemade, and it was well presented.
On the bottom were smoked salmon, cucumber, and ham sandwiches on a mix of brown and white with a small dressed salad.
The middle tier featured two freshly baked scones with jam, butter, and whipped cream. The scones were quite small, but delicious and very fresh. The jam tasted good quality, and while the cream was whipped (it was either sweetened or it had vanilla essence) and I usually prefer clotted, it was lovely and still felt indulgent.
The top tier had a small Strawberry Tart, and a little Lemon Meringue Tart. The highlight however was a Salted Caramel Macaron which we correctly guessed had been bought in. We were delighted to discover they use local artisan producer, Mademoiselle Macaron (a Foodinburgh Partner).
At £12.50 per person, I felt this was good value, and would make a nice alternative to lunch out.
Location: Castlehill, Edinburgh, EH1 2NE
Price: £25 for two
Good for: Informal afternoon tea
Photo credit Duke Photography exterior
Blue Sky Photography afternoon tea