Saturday, 30 June 2012

No. 1 Folly Bridge, Oxford

I'd not heard of No. 1 Folly Bridge before, but had been looking forward to going ever since my friends and I booked an afternoon tea offer on Groupon. This was my first foray into the world of Groupon, and at £9 for an afternoon tea with bubbly, sandwiches and scones it sounded too good to be true.

No. 1 Folly Bridge is located on Abingdon Road in Oxford, on the bank of the river Thames. We bagged a place outside on the 'patio', with the river lapping up all around us. (I'd have been equally pleased to sit inside as it's decorated like a museum with big windows looking out onto the river.)

We were given a choice of teas when we arrived. It look some time for them to be served, but the restaurant seemed very busy. The waitress told me that they were rushed off their feet, with a mixture of Groupon and walk-in customers. She was nice and friendly, and apologised for the delay when the teas arrived.

The tea bag was supplied in a cup of hot water (not of the fine bone China type). For obvious reasons, we were all rather disappointed that tea pots weren't provided as we found ourselves strategically sipping our way through the tea until it was lukewarm, to ensure it lasted throughout the meal.

Served in quick succession was the bubbly: prosecco. You can never go wrong with prosecco, particularly when you're sitting next to the river in the sunshine. I say no more!

Cream Tea Queen drinks at Folly Bridge

The food was then served. Disappointingly it wasn't on a nice cake stand as you'd expect for an afternoon tea. But to make up for that the side plates were rather fetching; patterned in purple with a gold trim. We were each to munch our way through three finger sandwiches, a scone and a brownie.

Cream Tea Queen afternoon tea at Folly Bridge

The finger sandwiches were salmon, egg with cress, and cheese with chives. The sandwich on top of the pile was a little dry, but the others underneath were very tasty. I particularly enjoyed the brown bread of the salmon sandwich.

Next on the list were the scones, all of which were plain (so no need to comment on the dissipation of the fruit). They were a good size and had a nice bounce to them, so were clearly fresh. My friend Lizzie's scone was burnt on the underside, but my other friend Anne said that she relished eating scones like that. I'm not sure about that myself, but each to their own!

Cream Tea Queen scone at Folly Bridge

The scone was very tasty in fact. It's a huge shame that the cream that was supplied with it was not. It was supplied in a small dish and didn't look very inviting. Judge for yourselves why when you see the photo below! It was also rather airy. To make spreading easier, Lizzie, a cream then jam girl, took the executive decision of spreading the cream on top of the jam. The cream was quite sweet with vanilla undertones. Anne concluded that it was Elmlea, a 'cream' that cats love (or so I've been told). I've since found that Elmlea is sold in a squirty variety, which could explain the unfortunate presentation. Needless to say, on the second half of my scone I forwent the cream! With all the cream talk, critiquing the jam somewhat passed me by.

Cream Tea Queen surveys the 'cream' at Folly Bridge

After that were the brownies. I rather enjoyed mine, but Lizzie wasn't so taken with it. She's quite particular when it comes to brownies.

As I mentioned, we paid £9 each for the afternoon tea. I'm not sure how much the restaurant normally charges as afternoon teas weren't listed on the menu and when I asked the waiter he quipped that it was "a million pounds". We made a speedy exit as black storm clouds rolled in and, feeling somewhat letdown by the lack of tea, decided to go for another tea in G&Ds cafe down the road. After a quick bit of maths en route (thank goodness that our other friend - will.i.sam - has a maths degree) we came to the conclusion that, without the Groupon offer, this would otherwise have cost us around £20 each. We were pretty shocked by this, especially Anne and Lizzie who could contrast it to their afternoon tea in the Grand Cafe earlier on this month. (I have since referred back to the Groupon offer and found out that the actual value should have been £21.70.)

Because this wasn't a cream tea I'm finding it hard to rate it out of 10 as I'd normally do. I feel that we got a fair price at £9, but I'd have been gutted to pay the asking rate of £21.70. Corners were clearly cut on the tea and cream which soured our opinion of the experience. Based on that alone it'd give it a 4/10. Would I go back? Maybe, but just for a drink. Would I do a Groupon deal again? I doubt it (unless it was somewhere I had been wanting to go to for a while and knew that the deal was worth it).

I'm including some pics below from Abingdon Road, an eclectic mix of beautiful old buildings and 1960s architecture.

Cream Tea Queen on Abingdon Road

Cream Tea Queen on Abingdon Road

Cream Tea Queen on Abingdon Road

Cream Tea Queen on Abingdon RoadCream Tea Queen on Abingdon Road

Cream Tea Queen on Abingdon Road

Happy scone eating,

The Cream Tea Queen


  1. Great blog - this is my favourite yet! You've definitely captured all the feedback from around the table. I was just wondering, did you mark them up for making the cream look like a turd, as will.i.sam suggested?

    1. Ha ha! I was trying not to be too explicit about that. To answer your question, no I didn't mark them up for that in the end; from my research since it seems that it's a pretty easy effect to create with a squirty can, so it didn't seem fair to give them extra points.