Wednesday, 13 October 2010

The Secret Tea Room, Leeds

Chocolate Cake
Since starting this blog, it has provided me with a number of firsts, eating a deconstructed whole hog in a rundown building surrounded by strangers was a particular highlight. This weekend provided yet another, My first underground food event.

For those of you that do not know, an underground restaurant, supper club, tea room etc, is an event run by a brave individual in their own home. Strangers book a place, turn up at a secret location, usually only disclosed a few days prior, eat (hopefully) tasty home cooked food, pay a donation then leave full and happy (again hopefully). They are usually promoted by word of mouth and social networking. These events are not strictly legit due to health and safety, licensing and other council hoops that usually have to be jumped through. This is usually why they are secret and people do not pay but instead donate a suggested fee.

The Guardian has an interesting article about it here: Underground Restaurants.

So upon hearing that there was a new underground restaurant gaining quite a good reputation right near me I swiftly booked a couple of places for me and the Other Half.

My first underground restaurant was actually a Tea Room and wasn't underground but held in the owners lovely home. Run by the mysterious 'Bakelady'. 12 lucky people, once a month, are served a selection of sandwiches, savoury tartlets and mouthwatering selection of cakes, macarons and scones alongside loose leaf tea and freshly ground coffee and all for the bargain price of £12 each.

 We arrived at a little train station near Leeds, no I am not telling you which one it's a secret plus I'll probably be beaten up if I did, we were immediately grabbed, black bags placed roughly over our heads, shoved into the back of a van and driven to the secret venue...
Ok it didn't happen quite like that, the address was disclosed a few days earlier and we made our way to the venue which was pointed out simply by an arrow leading round the back of the house.

We were first to arrive but were joined very quickly by 10 other excited people and the feast commenced, delicious finger sandwiches of carrot and homemade hummus, roast ham and chutney, poached salmon and egg and cucumber. Alongside these were little divine homemade tartlets with cheese and Yorkshire chorizo. attention then swiftly moved to the sweet options, little lemon macarons with Limoncello filling, buttermilk scones with jam and clotted cream (I have to pay a personal thanks here for being provided fruit scones after a comment I made on my blog 3 months ago about preferring fruit scones, exceptional service thank you very much.), a delicious squidgy chocolate cake and the most interesting option; a Guinness tea loaf served with Wensleydale cheese. As a Cumbrian born and bred this was a new one on me but strangely it worked and was a very good combination. All this was washed down with a lovely Chinese oolong tea, a tea I haven't tried before and is now on my to buy list.

Before everyone tucked in
Scones and Tartlets

It was a superb way to spend a Saturday, excellent company, conversations, food and service. The 3 hours we were there just seemed to fly by, I highly recommend you visit a local underground restaurant or start your own, although good luck if you want to visit this one, 3 Michelin star restaurants have shorter waiting lists.

The Bakelady's Website:

The Blog that started it all:


  1. Thank you Gary for a lovely review of the days' event.You were all such wonderful guests. The 3 hours flew by as quickly for me as it did for you.

    I'm very pleased that you linked the 'Underground Restaurant' scene back to Msmarmitelover who was one of the pioneers of this whole Underground Supperclub movement in the UK some 18 months ago.I look forward to meeting you both again at a future event.

  2. Looks like you had fun! The secret tea room sounds intriguing. If you're looking for an Oolong tea, have a little look at the 'operation tea-riffic' posts on my blog for suggestions.

  3. Sounds fab, still not been to sample myself but the cake & Wensleydale Cheese is a normal thing to serve here in the Dales and glad you liked the Yorkshire Chorizo