If you have ever lived or worked in Reading (Berkshire) you have probably heard the rumour that there is a restaurant called ‘Cerise’. With a reputation bordering on mythical, it’s one of those places you’ve heard of, sort of know where it is, but have never actually been to.
My interest in Cerise was recently sparked after reading a review written by ‘Edible Reading’, the town’s very own near mythical, anonymous restaurant reviewer! Edible Reading gave Cerise a healthy ranking of 7.9 (out out of 10) and categorized the restaurant as ‘special occasion’ dining. After a quick look at the restaurants menu on-line my interest was sparked, not by the a la carte dinning, but by afternoon tea!
If you have ever read my blog before you will know that I have more than a healthy interest in tea. I am always looking for interesting tea rooms and of course afternoon tea. Whilst Reading has a fantastic choice of coffee houses, the town lacks a good tea room. I have tried tea in several of Reading’s cafe’s and the offerings range from; dish water to a good builders brew. However nowhere in the town centre serves a proper pot of excellent loose leaf tea and so when I saw that Cerise served ‘bespoke’ leaf tea I was hopeful.
On a sticky, sultry afternoon, when my work had come to a grinding halt, and with it my good humor, I decided it was time for a break and a Cerise afternoon tea treat. I made my booking on-line which was simple and easy for a weekday sitting. Weekends tend to be booked up so you would need to plan ahead, especially for a Sunday afternoon tea. I arrived to a quiet restaurant, frequented mostly by hotel guests (Cerise is also the restaurant for the Forbury hotel). I had two seating options, either the very air conditioned restaurant or the courtyard area. On the advice of the waitress I chose the courtyard and it was good advice!
It’s hard to believe that in amongst all the hussle and bustle of Reading’s central shopping area exists a oasis of calm. The courtyard area is naturally cool and with it’s own water feature, very calming. Gasping I immediately ordered from the menu and opted for the lighter ‘Cerise cream tea’ rather than the ‘full afternoon tea’. I chose Banaspaty tea (from the Assam region, though nothing like a builders brew Assam!) from good selection of tea offerings sourced from Les Jardains de Gaia.
My tea arrived promptly followed by freshly baked scones, beautifully arranged with fruit and accompanied with a huge amount of clotted cream and jam. The tea was robust, thirst quenching and well just really good! The scones were light, the plate looked pretty but in all honesty the scones were tiny. No more then a few bites each, after eating the scones I was left with enough cream and jam to layer up a Victoria sponge! However the tea was plentiful and I was offered another pot, I had a second Banaspaty. Then an another, this time choosing Earl Grey which was beautifully presented with lemon slices but the tea was disappointingly from bag.
In spite of the tiny scones my afternoon tea at Cerise was was lovely. The location and the prompt, friendly service that refreshingly came without airs and graces made for a restful afternoon. At £8.50 (plus service) a Cerise cream tea is a good option for hearty tea drinkers (like me) whilst the cake lovers amongst you would need to go up to the full afternoon tea.
Have I found Reading’s answer to a tea room? No. What Cerise excels at is offering high-er end afternoon teas in lovely surroundings perfect for ‘treat’ afternoon teas. Would I go back? For a peaceful break whilst visiting the town, most defiantly.
26 The Forbury,