Gartine – A Very British High Tea in Amsterdam
There are a number of British stereotypes that this British Travelette lives up to; a deep appreciation for an orderly queue, an innate desire to talk (i.e. moan) about the weather at any given opportunity and a never fading love for a “nice cup of tea”.
No matter where I go in the world I can’t seem to shake off my love for tea. In fact, travelling has had quite the opposite effect and has meant that I simply add new and different flavours of tea to the ever-growing list of blends I adore. However, regardless of where I am in the world, it’s a rare occasion that I sit down to a traditional “high tea” complete with cake or cucumber sandwiches, which is why I was surprised to find myself faced with the delicious prospect in my current home from home, Amsterdam.
When a city is so synonymous with a certain type of coffee shop, a traditional tea room should look out of place, and yet a small cafe in Amsterdam called Gartine is fast becoming a favourite with both locals and tourists who want to enjoy a very British high tea with a Dutch twist. Tucked away in the very centre of Amsterdam’s old town, only a few streets away from the sights, sounds and smells of the Red Light District, Gartine is everything you wouldn’t expect from the Dutch capital, but will very easily love.
Those in the know, will nod along as I tell you that a high tea is more than just a cup of brown-beige liquid with a soggy biscuit on the side. It is a series of courses, first savoury and then sweet, washed down with any possible types of tea.
As I sat down to enjoy precisely this in Gartine I loved the very Dutch take on the concept; Delft china (of course) on rickety old antique tables and chairs in a tall thin terraced house down one of Amsterdam’s oldest streets. Darjeeling or Jasmine tea was poured from impressively big tea pots into dainty mix and match vintage cups and saucers.
I began to feel very at home as I cradled my “nice cup of tea” and made an all-too-natural passing comment to my neighbour about how unexpectedly warm it was that day.
And then came the food.
To begin with a cream of vegetable soup, home made from organic vegetables grown in Gartine’s own garden. Secondly, a platter of sandwiches, quiche and freshly baked bread rolls arrived and didn’t last long before finally a selection of evilly good cheesecakes (yes, plural) fruit tarts and cupcakes, which were lavishly topped with mascarpone and fruit compote. All were home made and all were devoured in a very un-British-ladylike fashion.
Gartine has a vegetarian-only menu and uses virtually all home-grown, organic ingredients to make food that is not just cleverly created but lovingly served and introduced. I felt only a little shame asking for my leftover cake to be boxed up to take home.
The last high tea I had was in the famous Ritz Hotel in London all plush and plump cushions, champagne and the daintiest of crustless sandwiches. Though you may not have the bubbles or bling in Gartine, you will still enjoy just as much class and at a fraction of the price too!