*Review by invite, food and drink complimentary*

What do you do when you fancy a treat? When I’m in the depths of despair (a pronounced feeling of late as I plot my third novel – why aren’t my characters behaving?), I take myself off to afternoon tea.

There is something so thoroughly comforting and special about the notion of nibbling on a selection of cakes and pastries, whilst sipping tea (or coffee in my case – more on that in a standalone post).

After battling with the book plot, I threw my hands up in despair, slipped into my pretty frock (note – wearing pretty garments always changes my mood) and headed over to Swatch Bar and Lounge for a spot of afternoon tea.

The Crowne Plaza Nottingham can be found in the heart of Nottingham city centre. We floated through the lofty entrance, swished up the stairs, and after a brief chat with the front of house staff, took a seat in one of the booths towards the back. It’s a lovely space that is proud to be grand, yet comfortable enough to put you at ease within the first few seconds.

Our table was giant. Consider this booth to be the Vince Vaughn of tables (did you know he’s a neck-stretching 6.5 feet tall?). I’m no claustrophobic, but I really, really appreciate large spaces. Which is why I settled right into the booth quicker than you can say “I love coffee.”

macaron

We were served a welcome Champagne sorbet and macarons, which I thought was a nice touch, and very tasty too. I loved the sorbet which felt like a proper adult treat (I will be emailing the Head Chef and grovelling for the recipe – I will share if my valiant efforts prove fruitful).

We had chosen the G&T Afternoon Tea, and after looking at a few menus, chose our cocktails of choice that included that magic ingredient du jour – gin.

3-sandwiches

I loved my passion-fruit martini and found it refreshing; base of notes of citrus fruit tinged with zingy passion-fruit packed a punch, which I found lovely on the palate. Other beverages sipped during the course of the afternoon tea sitting included cloudy apple juice and a wild strawberry sparkling drink by Franklin and Sons. It is upmarket drinks like these which augment an afternoon tea experience, and I have made it my mission to source some of these drinks and stockpile for guests (sssshhh, I mean me).

I have always wanted to go to a medieval banquet. Or a dinner party thrown by Henry VIII. I recall studying history as a rambunctious kid, falling in love with Henry’s era, because history books depicted sprawling feasts that lasted for days. And so it was that Swatch Bar and Lounge’s afternoon tea stirred up those nostalgic visions, as the presentation of food was epic.

close-up-sandwich

Row upon row of crust-less sandwiches. The crowning glory of delicate pastries, and an oven-warm scone with deliciously fudge-esque clotted cream. What’s not to love? Owing to the numerous pastries offered up, I warn you to buckle up for the ride of food-porn worthy photos – I hope you enjoy the sugar rush as much as I did.

Carrot cake, cream cheese frosting, draped berries
Carrot cake, cream cheese frosting, draped berries
Chocolate fondant
Chocolate fondant
chocolate coffee pastry
Chocolate and coffee pastry
eclair pastry
Raspberry and chocolate éclairs
Berry fruit mousse
Berry fruit mousse

 

coffee chocolate
Coffee… and more chocolate

Pastry was especially good on the éclairs; light with a slight bite, and a great custard filling that was piped most generously. It is difficult to say what was my favourite. The mini scones were pretty, deliciously little morsels that I could happily eat again, and again.

Eating mini versions of food always makes me wonder what it would be like if I was a giant (I loved fairytales when younger and still do – I’m in the middle or reading Phillip Pullman’s Grimm Tales – but more about that in a standalone post). The sandwiches were filling and tasty too – the ham and spiked chilli mayonnaise was lip-smacking good.

I had a great time at Swatch Bar and Lounge. For gentle, unobtrusive service, to an afternoon tea experience that will leave you jolly, head on over to the Crowne Plaza Nottingham now.

Rating: (1: I’d rather eat my shoe – 10: I’d sell my kidney for a meal here)

Food: 8

Value for money: 9

Ambience: 8

Service: 8

#InANutshell

Eatery name: Swatch Bar and Lounge

Open since: Full refurb in bar / reception area February 2018

Covers: 80

Address: Crowne Plaza, Wollaton St, Nottingham NG1 5RH

How to make reservation: Telephone

Call: 0115 936 9988

GM: David Clements

Head Chef: Matthew Mills

Front of House: Simon Nuttall

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Wheelchair friendly: Yes.

Whilst in the area: take advantage of Swatch Bar and Lounge’s pre-theatre deal (2 courses for £20). After a hearty supper, head over to Nottingham Theatre Royal to catch a showing of Sherlock Holmes: The Final Curtain.

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