If you don’t already know, I bloody love Harry Potter.
SO when The Assembly House, Norwich, started to advertise their recent Harry Potter themed afternoon tea I was all over it. It seems they were understandably very booked up from the word go but we managed to get an 11am slot. So more brunch than afternoon tea but beggers can’t be choosers and all that.
Unfortunately the night before we (myself and my fiance Dan) were due to have our afternoon tea a few glasses of prosecco and a few more gin cocktails threw themselves down my throat (not my fault obvs) and made me feel rather fuzzy on the Saturday morning. To be honest if it was anything other than Harry Potter themed food waiting for me I would not have left the house!
I did however drag myself out of the house and managed to look half respectable for a morning at The Assembly House. If you haven’t been to this lovely place in Norwich it’s a stately home type looking building with opulent decor and feels ‘a bit posh’. It is next to the Theatre Royal in Norwich so a popular spot for a pre theatre dinner.
I must admit, this isn’t a glowing review, so apologies to The Assembly House now but I have to be truthful in my opinions on this blog!
I found the whole experience quite underwhelming and I really do think it could’ve been done better. On entry to the building it looked as it usually would. No Harry Potter memorabilia anywhere which was alarming – had we got the date wrong? No, it turns out there was just not any decoration aside from some ribbons hanging from the chandeliers in the main dining room (if you were sat in the other room they were using you wouldn’t have even seen these). Also, not to be picky but Hufflepuff is yellow NOT gold! There was music on from the films but it was so quiet it almost hurt to strain your ears to listen to it, I think if it had been louder then instantly there would’ve been more theatre and atmosphere to the occasion.
The staff were all very lovely but there were no costumes, no other decorations and it all seemed a bit flat and to be honest, boring. I understand it is still an afternoon tea and not a trip to the WB Studios but I feel that they must know every person going through those doors to have the themed afternoon tea were Harry Potter fans – they stop serving the usual afternoon tea whilst doing a themed one – so why not play on it a little more and make it more of an overall experience? The social media campaign was really good and did make you think it was going to be better than what it actually was, which is really disappointing.
I was very happy however to find that there was a fully vegan version of the afternoon tea available which was instant brownie points but it didn’t look half as good as the non vegan version *sad face*. I think you’ll agree from looking at the pictures of the sorting hats (!) that the vegan option wasn’t given as much care or attention – I didn’t even get a colour reveal cake like the standard version did – I’m houseless!
I was served sandwiches – hummus, cucumber and tomato and carrot and olive – which were tasty, avo on crackers and a delicious marmite palmier as my savoury elements. There were then fruit scones brought out with plant based spread and jam which were also tasty, I love a scone. Finally the top layer consisted of a lemony tasting sponge and a chocolate sponge with the sorting hat on top which were both dry and boring to be completely honest. Compared with the scarf cake and beautiful looking macaron on the standard afternoon tea I felt hard done by! There was also a plain shortbread with the gold lightening bolt on which was ok but not amazing and then a shot glass filled with strawberries and some sort of sauce which again was just ok.
Let’s face it, I ate everything so it wasn’t awful, I think I was just expecting more. We were given a choice of tea and coffees but when I got home and looked on Instagram I found there were amazing looking ‘butterbeer’ milkshakes/cocktails clearly on some sort of hidden menu being served and our afternoon teas were both missing the chocolate wand and chocolate frog which seemed to be on everyone else’s on socials. At £20 a head it’s not a cheap outing so I really think that they need to up their game – the potential of what they could do and the experience it could be is huge!
I must give a shout out to the hugely talented Kate Barmby, formerly of Great British Bake Off, who made The Assembly House the Hagrid cake they had on display – it’s the cake of a Potterhead’s dreams!
All in all, I think if you’re a fan of the franchise and not too bothered about the food being a high quality then it’s worth a trip (they’ve opened bookings up again for October half term) but if you’re a foodie like me and want it to be substance as well as style, I would give it a miss and crack out the films at home instead.
Just Hollie xox