The Smallest Scone in Bristol?

Blink and you’ll miss it

What can you buy for £1.95?

I can think of a few things, even in this day and age: several bars of Fudge; 300g of broken Chocolate; a rather nice box of Free Range Eggs; a slice of Hungarian Strudel

For most of these things, you would even have change left over – and jolly good too, I might add.

In some places, however, £1.95 doesn’t get you much. Of course, in high-end stores like Harrods or Paul A. Young, this is just what you’d expect. But in your average cafe, when all you want is a takeaway buttered Scone? Well, for £1.95 you would hope it to be fairly decent.

Alas, this wasn’t the case in Cordial & Grace, a ‘Sewing Cafe’ situated in Clifton.

We found the place on our mission to scout out the tastiest cakes in Bristol – a mission which started at the Primrose Cafe (the intriguing creations of which I wrote about yesterday). Inside, chalked up on a blackboard, were a few words that caught my eye: ‘Treacle and Oat Scones.’

Now, last time I had a Treacle-based scone, it was served to me by a huge cheery chap in Dorset, who’d cooked up the beasts with Ginger and Clotted Cream. They were incredible – the stuff of legend – but the next time we sought them out his shop had gone.

Rumours began that the man had died from eating too much Clotted Cream. I like to think his Scones were just too perfect for this world…

However, as I’m sure you will have guessed by now, the same cannot be said for the Scones sold at Cordial & Grace.

The flavour, indeed, was promising, and – I thought – would be great as a lunchtime snack for our walk over Clifton Bridge.

There were none on display when we entered the shop, but I put my faith in the concept of Treacly goodness and asked if I could have one to go. The lady behind the counter seemed surprised – I guess it’s not a question they get asked that often – and said it would be £4 for two with all the trimmings (Cream and Jam) plus a Hot Drink.

But how much for a single buttered Scone?

That’s right, Ogglers – you’re way ahead of me. The price was £1.95.

I suppose I’d expected to pay about £1.50, so it was a little more than I had hoped. Not off-puttingly so though – especially given the new and exciting flavour.

I handed over my savings and waited for it to appear.

As soon as it did, my heart sank.

Wrapped in a layer of greaseproof paper was by far the smallest Scone I’ve ever bought – so small, it fit roomily into the palm of my hand, weighing no more than a thin slice of Bread.

I’ve had nosebleeds that were bigger. I almost had one then, in fact.

However, as usually happens in such situations, a typical English awkwardness took hold. Even the lady who sold it seemed mildly embarrassed. But instead of complaining, or commenting on its underwhelming size, I gave my thanks and scurried away.

Outside, the anger kicked in:

How can they justify charging so much? For a TAKEAWAY?!

It’s TINY!

I can’t believe I bought it without checking how big it was first.

Stupid Pud-Hog! Stupid, stupid, STUPID!

I could have got a SANDWICH for that, goddamnit.

I could have made a whole frigging TRAY for less!

Amidst this sudden shower of rage, the Man tried to soothe me with a few suggestions, one of which was taking it back for a refund.

Can you really take a buttered Scone back for a refund though, Ogglers?

I doubted it.

Besides, who wants to go into a quiet Clifton Tea Room and argue about the size of a Scone?

Not me.

So saddled with this saddening little specimen (the Scone, I mean, not the Man), I stomped my way towards Clifton Bridge and let the views calm me down.

An hour or so later, I was able to take a more positive look at the situation. After all, I still hadn’t tried it. What if it was amazing? What if it was the tastiest thing to have ever passed my lips?

If that was the case, then £1.95 would be a mere drop in the ocean. For the most special Scone I would pay twice that – maybe even more.

By the time it came to eating it, a great deal rode on the outcome.

So how, then, did it come out?

As you already know, I was not overly impressed.

The flavour was pleasant but nothing fantastic. I could taste the Flour almost as strongly as Oats or Treacle.

Texturally, too, it was good – but no better than I could have cooked up at home. Worse still, it was gone in about three bites.

Diet-size? Maybe.

£1.95-size? Unfortunately not.


5 responses

  1. Hi there, my name is Maria and Cordial & Grace is my business. It was also me who served you on the weekend. I remember serving you and you are right, I was slightly taken aback when your initial enquiry about our take-away cream teas became an order for one single scone with butter. I apologise for your poor experience but would like to thank-you for making me aware of this.
    Having read your comments I agree with you, I would have felt the same. You have taught me a very valuable lesson to be careful not to compromise what we do in my endeavour to say yes to every customer request. I made an error of judgment to sell you a single scone in this way for £1.95.
    Our homemade scones are not baked to be sold in this way. We bake them to serve in pairs, warm from the oven, with a generous serving of clotted cream and damson jam accompanied by one of our loose leaf teas or freshly ground coffees. In the last few weeks, since we changed our sweet scones to these Scottish oat & treacle flavour, many customers (including more than one Scottish visitor) have commented on how much they have enjoyed them. We are a tea rooms primarily in the business of serving customers who choose to eat in and enjoy the atmosphere as well as our delicious homemade food . Of course we do happily sell food to take-away and our advertised take-away cream teas are boxed with individual pots of cream & jam and a pair of scones, often warmed.
    I would really like you to have the chance to enjoy the full Cordial & Grace experience by inviting you to enjoy a cream tea on us next time you visit Bristol.
    I have put my heart & soul into setting up Cordial & Grace and my endeavour to make it a truly enjoyable experience for all my customers. I have tried to think of everything from finding teapots that pour without dribbling to carrying out customer research on the ideal scone size for our cream teas. Until now I have received such lovely feedback either directly or via tweets, emails and blogs (please see the links on our website) that on the whole I’ve been confident that we’ve been getting it right. However your feedback is the most valuable because it’s far more important to know when and how we get it wrong so that we can address this and keep improving.

    • Hi Maria,

      I was hoping you might get in touch, so thank you for taking the time to explain.

      As you already know, I had an inkling my request was not a usual one. I’ve no doubt that with Jam, Cream and a large pot of Tea, I might have been much more impressed. But sometimes a simple buttered Scone is all you need…

      I certainly don’t think you should stop selling them singly, or with only butter. As I said, it tasted good – not out-of-this-world, but quite comforting. It was the price that hurt the most.

      Sadly I can’t take you up on a full Cream Tea, but I do appreciate the offer.

      Good luck with the business – and Happy Hogging!

      P-H x

  2. I see this matter has already been cleared up but just to throw my 2 cents into the ring. My mum had a cafe in cornwall and we did two homemade scones (as big as your hand) with cream and jam and tea for £4.50 so actually more expensive than the afore mentioned. But our scones with butter were 95p or 50p to take away. I would have to say £1.95 is rather steep but well done on the cream tea.

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