As Afternoon Tea Week draws to a close on Sunday, Stephanie Abbot puts the drive-through service at The Stair Arms Hotel in Midlothian to the test.
A GLOBAL pandemic has a way of changing how you do things. One of the biggest shifts we’ve all experienced is how we spend time with one another and this has meant more catch ups in gardens, parks and forests than ever before.
When it comes to any meet up with friends and family, the question of food is always raised. While I won’t bash a handy meal deal lunch, an increasing number of businesses have come up with innovative ways for people to enjoy their delicious food at home or alfresco.
Ahead of Afternoon Tea Week, a friend and I tried out The Stair Arms Hotel’s drive-through afternoon tea at Pathhead in Midlothian and what a day we had for it – while some parts of the UK were sweltering in temperatures of 36 degrees, Edinburgh experienced a perfect combination of blue skies, minimal wind and a gentle heat of around 22 degrees. It meant the local park was the perfect place to sit and enjoy our boxes of treats.
When you arrive at The Stair Arms Hotel, there are clear signs directing you to the line for the drive through. It’s not a completely separate system to the one folk on their feet will use, so just be mindful of that when driving through.
Having booked a slot and pre-ordered our selections, our things were ready quickly. The staff serving us were very friendly and appreciative of the fact this was a new concept to my friend and I.
We took our goodies and away we went, my friend clutching the precious cargo as I drove us back into the city; only a 20-minute journey from my home in Leith, it still felt convenient. We were also quick to spot a lovely outside dining space with benches on a lush green lawn, perfect for warmer days.
The menu is divided into four sections: sandwiches and wraps; savouries; mini bakery; and scones and tarts. You can either choose four for £13.50 or six for £17.50.
We plumbed for the chicken club, Belhaven smoked salmon, pork and chorizo sausage roll, dinky quiche Lorraine followed by caramel shortcake and mars bar cheesecake with strawberry and cream scones. One thing we noticed right away was the limited number of veggie options and no vegan offerings at all, which is surprising to see on a menu these days.
While our cream scones got a little squished in transit, the other items faired better. After nipping in for a cheeky bottle of prosecco, we were ready to pick the perfect spot to sit.
The pork and chorizo sausage roll was packed full of flavour and the pastry was both buttery and flaky. The sandwiches were generously filled and the chicken was perfectly cooked with a good amount of crispy bacon to go with it.
Our favourite of the lot was the mars bar cheesecake, which was as rich and indulgent as you’d expect. We opted for two flat white coffees rather than tea. Although if you do choose the latter it seems you are given the teabags rather than a fully prepared cuppa, which wouldn’t be ideal if you’re not planning to eat at home.
Overall, this was the perfect way to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon and I’d be keen to return to try out the other options on the menu, particularly the prawn marie rose and the lemon drizzle slice.
To book a slot for collection, call 01875 320277 with your order.