It’s not often that you find a place where young hipsters and old ladies are both happy to hang out, but Waterloo Gardens Tea house in Penylan, Cardiff may just be that place.
Nestled in a row of shops next to the pretty and quiet Edwardian Waterloo Gardens park, the tea rooms opened around a year ago. It’s owners had the aim of becoming the ‘hub of the area’, an alternative to the large coffee chains. At Waterloo, drinks are served in cups and brightly coloured tea pots (one for the more mature ladies, who aren’t quite satisfied with a tea bag dunked in mug of hot water). The place is modern and airy, with frosted glass and orange and grey accents, yet it’s still comfortable and unpretentious.
The first thing you notice when entering is the wall on the left, listing Waterloo Gardens Teahouse’s 50 varieties of tea – ranging from green jasmine to good old English breakfast. If you need a java fix, the teahouse also serves coffee, in fact, they’ve won awards for it. My favourite drink is the matcha latte – a green tea latte with an oriental flavour and a kick of caffeine. Don’t let the green colour put you off!
Then there’s the cakes. Expect the traditional mixed with the more suprising flavours: Victoria sponge was displayed next to parsnip, cranberry and pineapple cake on my last visit. I can also recommend the corgette and lime cake. For £11.50 per person you can book ahead for an afternoon tea comprising of finger sandwiches, your choice of a big slab of cake, fresh scones with jam and cream (my father-in-law proclaimed them to be the ‘best he’s ever tasted’) and of course, a pot of tea or cup of coffee.
As you’d expect from a tea house which is battling against the coffee chains, the shop displays pictures from local artists and the art is changed monthly.
In 2009 Waterloo Gardens Teahouse was awarded the Beverage Service Association’s accolade of best independent cafe in the UK, yet is still retains the atmosphere of a local community meeting place. I’m reluctant to tell too many people about it, incase I turn up one Saturday and I’m unable to get a table. However…..I’d be willing to wait.