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London Carriage Works takes the cake

Angie Sammons on Hope St with the youngest councillor and the world's best scones

Written by . Published on January 24th 2011.

London Carriage Works takes the cake

THEY did 70 afternoon teas in one session at the London Carriage Works a few weeks ago.

Didn't know you'd become so popular among the Grassendale Tweed set, I'd remarked to Paul Askew.

Afternoon tea is
getting a bit trendy
then. The preserve of
the posh has become
the jam of the people

Actually, it was after a glossy book launch, the big cheese of the Hope Street Hotel's kitchen had told me.

So these days, I wondered, do yuppie publishing types go out and get themselves all “caked up”?

Nothing sniffy about that.

Afternoon tea is getting a bit trendy then. The preserve of the posh has become the jam of the people.

There is even a website dedicated to it which is guaranteed to bring out, if not the American tourist, the traditional English snob: “Afternoon tea has been a British institution since Anna Maria, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, asked her footman to bring her a pot of tea and light refreshment one afternoon in 1840. The ritual caught on and afternoon tea became the corner stone of high society dining.”


I go with Croxteth's latest councillor, Stephanie Till, who beat the BNP to win her Labour seat, a few weeks ago. At just 25, she is also the youngest member of Liverpool City Council, a bright spark.

She frequently takes her two little girls for afternoon tea at a hotel in the city centre well known to the sexy networking brigade. This version, she decides halfway through the orange and poppy seed cake, is way, way better.

Far from discuss how we lost India, over a pot of Lapsang Souchong, Stephanie tells me of her passion for council work, and for Croxteth, especially in the aftermath of Rhys Jones's death.

She tells me how, as a young mum without any political interest (this was about two minutes ago remember) she managed to get a “No Ball Games” sign outside the house of a neighbour who was being plagued by kids playing football day and night.

“They don't work,” a council officer had told her. She persisted and got the sign.

Trouble vanished overnight and Stephanie, educated at Streatham House, Crosby, after winning a Carla Lane scholarship for the not-so-well-heeled, ("I had to get three buses

from Crocky every morning") realised that she liked changing things. Encouraged by her new mentor, the late councillor Rose Bailey, she decided wanted to make a proper difference.

Here's the thing about afternoon tea: it's a chance for a leisurely stop and search. There is far less pressure to perform over a cucumber sandwich than, say, a full a la carte dinner, getting to grips with a whole dressed crab. Mind you, it's been a while since I had to interview one of those.

It does, however, retain a charm, and you get the feeling that you are somehow doing something that you oughtn't to be while soaking up the easy (preferably) company of another like a sponge.

At this venue it's all that. For a start, you take it in the handsome lounge area. Huge windows maximise Hope Street's fading light, throwing it onto black leather sofas and oak timber floors and exposed brick. Despite this, it is warm and unrushed.

A glass of Prosecco gets things going followed by a huge pot of Earl Grey which could have been stronger. There are all sorts of herb teas and infusions on here too for the caffeine conscious.

And then sandwiches. Delicately smoked salmon with slivers of crisp cucumber and cheese and crunchy homemade colesaw (trust me, there is no other) come on granary bread as springy as the Duchess of Bedford's mattress.

Banana and walnut bread, fruit loaf, and that moist orange cake in slabs, sadly all make one short journey in their lives, from the LCW ovens, onto a plate and up the stairs. They are everything you would expect: moist, rich and crumbly.

Yet all this starts from just £12.50 a head ( £16.95 with the bubbles) although you can say goodbye to the day and take the rest of the bottle for £28. A bottle of Lallier Grand Cru NV comes in at £39).

You like scones? These beauties win the Eurovision Scone Contest. It's only a scone, you say. No, I say, these are baked, right there and then. They come to order while you await, like a child in a kitchen, the arrival of their aroma and their heat. They are brought to the table with, thankfully, too much thick clotted cream, blueberries and raspberries. They go like the proverbial hot cakes.

Mr Askew tells us from this week it's all going to be Christmas themed. Expect mincemeat, cinnamon and nutmeg, mistletoe and wine as you mull.

"Know what? I think I'm turning into a bit of a scone-head," I announce as we step into the dusk.

American tourists aren't going to get that line. Or the Tweed set.

Stephanie Till, however, chuckles.

London Carriage Works
40 Hope St
Liverpool, L1 9DA
0151 705 2222
Afternoon tea, daily, 3pm-5pm

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10 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

CrumbsDecember 3rd 2010.

Cake mixture and politics. The words London Carriage Works and Crocky in the same article. Carla Lane also.

Well! (in a good way)

Andy MDecember 3rd 2010.

Prosecco with Earl Grey? Mixing grape and leaf?? Shouldn't be allowed...

Arctic RollDecember 3rd 2010.

You should get out more Andy and chill, mate! Oooh, forgot, I'm freezin my baubles off already! LOL xxx

AnonymousDecember 3rd 2010.

Belated congratulations Stephanie on winning the by-election and fantastic to see someone so young, with other big commitments, having the drive to run for office. Keep the faith and don't curb your enthusiasm girl!

Nice bunsDecember 3rd 2010.

Hear hear!

You know Typh-whoDecember 3rd 2010.

So that's who I was bumped for eh Sammons?
And to think, I had some Wagon Wheels,a custard and a flask of tea hidden in my bag to save us a few quid.

AndyDecember 4th 2010.

Arctic, even if I was out 24/7 my tastebuds could not possibly tolerate mixing booze with a nice cup of tea. Love both, but not together.

recovering alcoholicDecember 4th 2010.

then how do you sober up?

T. PottsDecember 7th 2010.

Afternoon tea isn't "posh" it merely appears to be so because modern slobs sneer at it for being insufficiently "kewl" so fail to observe it and sneer at people who do.

Liverpool Restaurant ReviewsDecember 7th 2010.

I have to say you afternoon tea was far different from what I got a week or so ago. Although our sandwiches were as good as yours, the cakes where no where near, they where dry and lacked flavrou. The scones had a very solid texture and I susspect reheated from the freezer. All in all I was dissapointed.

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