The Cup Tea Lounge: new Renfield Street branch missing the cherry on the cake
A Cup that could still be better brewed: cake is pricy and food underwhelming at (glorious) new venue
Now with a second branch in the city centre, can Cup’s tiered offerings match their new opulent setting? Andrea Pearson takes tea and cake
Entering the Cup Tea Lounge is magnificent. Right in the heart of city-centre Glasgow, it is a glorious, Category B-listed, Victorian Gothic building designed by Alfred Waterhouse of Natural History Museum fame. Once a branch of the Prudential, the venue has served time as De Quincey’s Pub, named after the writer and opium addict who lived at the same address, and later still as Bouzy Rouge. Still on show are the original coloured wall tiles and ceiling panels. If Cup, already packing in tea-lovers in Byres Road, can recreate the feeling of a Victorian tearoom anywhere in the city centre, then surely this is the place.
Tea is taken very seriously at Cup. The tea list is longer than most restaurants’ wine lists. Each of the teas on the menu has its provenance detailed and brewing instructions spelt out. Cup sources many teas from Blends for Friends, a company that invites suggestions for new blends … something nutty perhaps? Or something to drink while shopping for a loved one? (BfF also offer a personalised blend of tea at £27 per tin – it’s clearly a double dunk recession for some.)
The Cup Tea Lounge is all very charming, with courteous staff, a welcome range of gluten-free options and children’s plates of Nutella pancakes that are always a hit. But after such a build-up it’s hard not to be a little underwhelmed by the food on offer. Venturing off the afternoon tea menu brings a dull panini and a soup that promises pea and mint flavour but delivers little of either. The afternoon tea includes three tiers of mini rolls, cakes and two teeny scones. The scones, made to order, are tip-top, but carrying a £14 price tag it is hard not to start breaking down the price per layer, per cake, per bite.
There should be a little more to it, and the promise provided by the original Byres Road café, the attractive venue and an imminent alcohol licence, which will allow for late-night cocktails alongside the cakes, all point to a Cup that’s still to be brewed to perfection.
Ave. price two-course meal: £9.50 (lunch)
+ Fine setting for fine teas
- Some food choices not yet at the same level