Since opening in late 2014, tea room Margot May on Bedminster’s North Street has proved pretty successful. Meeting a friend for midweek coffee and cake, we decided to investigate what the venue looked like after its recent facelift, and I think it’s fair to say that we weren’t disappointed.
It’s not a huge place, but walk through the front door and it immediately feels welcoming, decorated in a vintage-y style with splashes of vivid pink, cushion-topped chairs and cosy sofa seating for those looking just to sit and relax. There’s free WiFi too, perfect for those who are looking for a place to sit and work.
On the afternoon of our visit, the tea room was buzzing with chatter from mums with young children, but there was enough space for us to commandeer a table with a great view of the counter, full to bursting with freshly baked sweet and savoury treats.
The food menu incorporates a variety of homely and warming options: sandwiches and toasties on Mark’s Bread (with gluten-free options also available); a breakfast menu of muesli, toast, crumpets, teacakes and bacon sandwiches; and lunch and afternoon offerings detailed on a blackboard above the counter. With soups (it was carrot and sweet potato on the day of our visit), cream teas, salads and more on the menu, none of the lunch options are priced at more than £5.50, making it a very affordable choice for a midday meal.
I think, though, that it’s fair to say that the main draw of Margot May is the baked treats – both sweet and savoury. Head to the counter and you’ll find a whole host of options that change on a regular basis: think scones (the pear, walnut and chocolate sounded amazing), flapjacks, cakes and more – there are also options for those with different dietary requirements. It was also great to see that every single offering was covered with a glass dome, avoiding the risk of going stale or being contaminated.
There’s an equally staggering amount of choice when it comes to the drinks, too. Each table has its own loose leaf tea menu, with 14 different choices from The Tea House Emporium that include black teas, flavoured black teas, green teas, herbal varieties and others, including rooibos, puerh sweet chai and oolong. I love the fact that the loose leaf teas are displayed in mini china cups on the counter, in addition to simply having the labelled boxes behind the counter.
Coffees here are from Extract, with all of the standard varieties available and both soya milk and decaffeinated coffee can be chosen at no additional cost. You also have the option of either white or dark hot chocolate, or soft drinks from Lovely Drinks, Frobishers and more. Hot drinks are all priced at between £2 and £2.50, with extras (marshmallows, syrups, cream) available for a little extra.
My decaf latte (£2.30) was well made, still with a good hit of coffee flavour and not burnt, unlike other North Street venues I shan’t name…it was a decent size for the money too. And what’s more, every hot drink purchase at Margot May gives you a stamp on your loyalty card (if you want one) – get 9 stamps and you’ll be able to enjoy a free hot drink the next time around.
The friend with whom I visited opted for a savoury scone containing feta, thyme and paprika (£2.50): a price that could seem steep for the less-developed end of North Street, but the quality really shone through. It was a decent-sized scone, the feta and thyme clearly visible, the flavours, he said, nice and subtle – such a combination has the potential to be overpowering. His two packs of butter remained unopened too: the scone was perfectly moist and was enjoyed simply on its own.
And me? I chose a slice of the dairy-free carrot cake (£2.75) – obviously a popular choice, as there were only two slices left. And when it arrived at the table, it was clear to see why: the cake itself was dense and moist, made with oil rather than butter, and flecked with plenty of nuts and dried fruit. Normally I’d be disappointed not to see cream cheese icing on a carrot cake, but this version – made with soya spread, icing sugar and desiccated coconut – was (perhaps surprisingly) great: thick, rich and sweet, with a pretty good texture too. With small amounts of grated carrot also adorning the top, it looked pretty damn good as well.
It’s great to have a traditional tea room south of the river, in a city that’s becoming increasingly permeated by coffee shops – if you’re looking for a range of loose leaf teas, great coffee and an amazing range of freshly baked cakes and savouries, you know where to go.