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

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Cup Tea Lounge

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

Cup Tea Lounge

71 Renfield Street, Glasgow, G2 1LP

This stylish off-shoot of the Byres Road tea room makes great play of its ethical and waste-reduction efforts, aiming to combine elegant snacking and drinking with a clearer conscience. Set in a lovely Victorian building, they've kept the décor…

Comments

1. wowwebby12 Sep 2012, 4:16pm Report

I decided to pay a visit here recently with a friend, as Cup basically encompasses her 3 favourite things - tea, cocktails and dessert.
I was blown away by the interior, it is absolutely stunning.
Staff were very attentive, helpful and knowledgeable.
We order our choices of dessert (we went for the full blown desserts rather than just a cake), cocktail and tea.
Their tea menu is extensive and excellent, you are guaranteed to find something you like and the teas are all listed with their recommended serving and brewing time so you get the perfect cuppa, you even get a timer brought to the table with them. My friend would highly recommend the Peach Delight.
Our cocktails were equally delicious and I could happily have stayed all night and drank them.
Our desserts then arrived looking like something you'd see on the Great British Menu, absolutely stunning and they tasted beautiful too. They were also accompanied by a "shot" (a dessert shot) to cleanse your palate before eating them.
Overall I'd say this place is fantastic and something a little bit special and just what the city centre's been needing! I only have one complaint to make and that is that quite a few of the teas were out of stock but this can be forgiven due to the sheer size of the tea menu.
I will definately be back!

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