Food – Glasgow: Ingram Wynd. Sadly, their afternoon tea offering just isn’t my cup of tea.

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Ingram Wynd is renowned for the quality of its food, service and professional staff. I’ve sung its praises in the past on more than one occasion. However, if they think their afternoon tea offering is going to set the heather on fire, then it’s time for a healthy serving of reality check!

You see, in Glasgow, there are a huge number of places offering afternoon teas, some good, others bad and a few that are excellent at what they do. But if Ingram Wynd wants to compete with the likes of Cup, Butterfly and Pig and the Grand Central Hotel, then they’ll have to up their game substantially.

Ingram Wynd is located in the Merchant City area of Glasgow, which following huge improvements to the locale, is now regarded as being one of the upmarket sectors within the city. That might explain why the street is full of restaurants.

There is parking available on-street, however, it is a metered zone – and well patrolled by Glasgow City Council’s wardens! make sure you get a ticket or you’re visit is going to end up substantially more expensive with a £30 fine. If the street parking is full then there is an open-air NCP car park on Ingram St, but, as with all things NCP related, be prepared to pay heavily for the privilege.

We had been provided with a voucher for two as an anniversary gift for afternoon tea which would normally cost £28 without a glass of Prosecco. This can be found online at a cheaper rate on many ‘deal’ sites.

On entering we were warmly welcomed by the manageress and shown straight to our table by the window.

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The restaurant was busy, and from the number of tables with tea stands on them, we weren’t the only ones having this quintessentially Victorian hunger buster.

No attempt was made to take our jackets, so onto the back of the seats, they had to go. A waitress duly arrived to enquire whether we wanted to upgrade the voucher value to include a glass of fizz. Nothing wrong with trying to upsell.

We were not asked if we had any specific dietary requirements, but some 30 minutes later the table next to us were!

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Next up we were asked if we wanted tea or coffee. Now, this is where things start to unravel a bit. There was no choice of teas offered which, for an afternoon tea is an absolute must as is the case with coffee choices.

Teacups and saucers were brought to the table, one of which was missing a teaspoon. The tea arrived next and again another disappointment as there was no china teapot as was fully expected. Instead what we received was an old, dented, stainless steel bog-standard variety instead.

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One thing Ingram Wynd needs to seriously consider is their customers’ expectations for afternoon tea. After all, this is a quaint UK custom, and certain standards should be maintained. Afternoon tea is as much about the ambience, the service, the decadence and the overall picture – and in my opinion, Ingram Wynd is missing a trick or two which could very easily be rectified.

The cake stand duly arrived at the table. Unfortunately, I had to request that sugar for the tea, along with the missing teaspoon be brought also.

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There were three sections in the cake stand – the bottom contained sandwiches cut into fingers without crusts, as they should be. I don’t like to see bread rolls, brioche hot-dog fingers and the like being used. We were provided with four finger sandwiches each – egg mayonnaise and rocket, ham and tomato, tuna mayonnaise salad, and savoury cheese.

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The bread selection was white and a 50/50  bread with wholemeal added. At no time were we asked whether we wanted white or brown bread. The fillings were no different than you would have at home and to be frank, I was expecting much more. I wanted to see something a little more exotic than something I could buy at any supermarket!

And here’s a problem, my wife doesn’t like mayo, and that’s exactly why you need to ask your guests what choice of fillings they would like on their sandwiches. Given an adjacent table were asked for their dietary requirements, I can only assume an oversight on our waitresses part.

It was disappointing to note that there were no savouries offered. And this is where Ingram Wynd needs to up its game. What was served will never compete with the likes of Cup, Butterfly and Pig etc who offer a far superior product for roughly the same price.

On the next level up was a selection of cakes, including two small pieces of millionaire shortbread. Two squares of carrot cake, two pieces of chocolate sponge cake which might originally have started its life as a brownie, but was much too dry to have qualified as such. We also had two small ramekins of chantilly cream with a seasonal fruit compote which, unfortunately, was from a tin!

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The carrot cake was delicious – moist, soft and with a delicate cinnamon/vanilla aftertaste and a lovely creamy frosting which added an extra sweet kick.

The top deck was occupied by two plain whites scones, again, no choice was offered like many others who have a selection of plain, fruit, cherry, brown and treacle. At Ingram, it was very definitely a case of take it or leave it. They hadn’t been warmed and were on the dry side, thankfully that was sorted out with the addition of the cream and jam – or is it jam and cream?

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Disappointingly there was no butter provided, so if you don’t like cream and just want to have a scone with butter and jam you’ll need to ask for the missing element to be brought to the table. Another disaster for any afternoon tea followed as we were not provided with a sufficient amount of cream or jam for the two scones and we had to ask for extra. And be aware, if you are thinking along the lines of a typical Cornish cream tea with a dollop of lush, rich and thick clotted cream, don’t, you’ll be disappointed.

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We also ran out of tea and had to try and catch someone’s attention for at least five minutes to order a refill. Eventually, this arrived, but on pouring it after having left it to brew it was still too weak. I opened the lid to give it a stir and found the problem. One teabag! It was forlornly floating in the pot. Come on Ingram you know, and so do I, that you can do a lot better than this. Start using proper pots with strainers and fresh tea.

On the plus side, the staff are still all very friendly but that can’t make up for a substandard afternoon tea.

If you’re going to offer this deal to customers then put some effort into making it the very best it can possibly be. A customer simply shouldn’t have to ask for things like teaspoons,  and sugar to be brought to the table.

Why not, when you’re at it, think about adding in a little extra to make that afternoon tea something special. Some quiche, smoked salmon and oatcakes, a slice of pie that would all help to bring this offering up to a higher standard. Consider upping the sandwich fillings from the normal to something special. Offer a choice of bread, make sure you similarly offer a choice of teas and coffees. As mentioned previously think about making a choice of scones an option and don’t skimp on the cream and jam.

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