As part of The Galloway Gazette’s ongoing search to find the Tearoom of the Year for 2014, reporter Louise Kerr visited the Alpine Lounge at the North West Castle Hotel, Stranraer:
I am happy to report that the art of a great afternoon tea is alive and well and strutting its stuff at the Alpine Lounge.
It’s all there for connoisseurs of tradition - the three-tiered cake stand, the properly cut sandwiches, the fluffy scones with generous pots of jam and cream, the traybakes and the sponge cakes plus a steaming hot pot of tea.
There is also the added attraction of watching the curling on the hotel’s popular four-sheeter rink while you enjoy your repast.
The Alpine Lounge in the Castle’s hotel complex has practically been my second home every winter since I was about ten years-old, so I was on very familiar territory when I sat at my table and ordered the ‘full monty’ afternoon tea recently.
This fairly new innovation has been a huge hit at the award-winning hotel during the summer and when the Alpine opened in October for the curling season, ice rink manger Gail Munro was keen to get the afternoon tea fans into the Alpine in the hope they would become curling fans too!
My attentive waitress asked me to choose what sandwiches I wanted from the choice of roast beef, salad, breast of chicken, tuna and mayonnaise, gammon, egg mayonnaise, Galloway cheddar cheese, cucumber with cream cheese or local smoked salmon.
Having plumped for salad and tea over coffee, (tea’s my afternoon drink, no coffee after 12noon!)
I sat back to watch the curlers and have a chat with my friends Gail and Debbie who were there having lunch from the extensive menu for all day food that is also available at the Alpine. My cake stand arrived and my, what a sight it was, laden with tasty goodies.
Having polished off my sandwiches the big decision is....do I start at the top and work my way down or start at the bottom and head upwards?
From the top down won.
A light-as-a-feather scone was soon halved, plastered with butter, jam and cream and savoured.
The middle tier had millionaire’s shortbread, mint millionaires, gingerbread, rocky road and brides slice. The last plate was host to home-made meringues with fresh cream and raspberries, lemon drizzle cake and buttery, melt-in-the-mouth shortbread.
At just £8.50 this would satisfy the healthy appetites of two people let alone me on my lonesome!
As well as the full afternoon tea you can also select from an a la carte afternoon tea menu, so if you just fancy a cup of tea or coffee and a cake or a scone you can.
The a la carte also has other treats for the sweet-toothed such as fresh strawberries and cream, vanilla ice cream and butterscotch sauce or a banana split. And the beverages include hot chocolate, which I can recommend after curling when it really hits the spot!
Afternoon tea may be my particular favourite when eating out but you can also enjoy a delicious lunch or dinner at the Alpine.
Lunch is served from 12noon until 2pm and dinner from 6pm to 8.30pm. The menu includes starters - soup of the day, honeydew melon, chicken liver pate, deep fried potato wedges or oak smoked Scottish salmon while the mouth-watering main courses selection is - chilli con carni, breaded haddock, breast of chicken, grilled lamb chops, fillet of smoked salmon, chicken Caesar salad, North West Castle Mixed grill, Sirloin or fillet steak or the vegetarian dish of the day.
Walking into the Alpine Lounge you would be forgiven for thinking you had suddenly been transported to the slopes of St Moritz. From the polished pine to the cow bells and edelweiss motifs, it’s an inspired setting for one of the busiest curling rinks in Scotland.