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Why Mother’s Day afternoon tea is better at Café 21, York

This York afternoon tea follows the same recipe served to Austrian royalty in the 1800s, and if that doesn’t scream “Mother’s Day done right“ then we don’t know what will.

Written by Becky Hardy
Published 04.03.2023

Life doesn’t come with a manual – it comes with a mother.

But you can’t rely on her advice when it comes to spoiling her this Mother’s Day; surprises are the least she deserves and mums always have this knack for downplaying how much we should celebrate them.

But not this year. For Mother’s Day 2023, we’re pushing the boat out and really showing those special women in our lives just how much they mean to us. Ideally, without breaking the bank, too.

If you’re with us and still need some inspo for the big day, we’ve got a recommendation for you that is just as distinctive, just as sophisticated and just as iconic as your Mum herself: afternoon tea in York at Café 21.



Just an hour from Newcastle by train, York really is a special day out for Mother’s Day 2023.

Cute, cobbled streets are lined by a kaleidoscope of boutiques, pubs, bars and restaurants guaranteed to entertain from dawn until dusk.

Cultural stalwarts like York Minster, medieval shopping street The Shambles and The York Dungeon all offer something a bit different, while temporary attractions like the immersive Van Gogh exhibition will keep art-loving Mums happy.

And if you fancy making a weekend of it, hotels like The Grand Hotel, York, The Principal or Malmaison guarantee luxury and comfort fit for your queen.


If your Mum is all about style, substance and sophistication, then Café 21 York should be the axis on which your Mother’s Day plans spins.

Renowned as something of a paradise for the sweet-toothed among us, the reputation of Café 21’s pâtisserieand York afternoon tea attracts visitors the UK over. But that’s not all that’s on offer here: their all-day à la carte menu provides savoury mid-shopping saviours, whilst their Sunday lunch offering is the stuff of legend in these parts.

Our mums are usually the first to sacrifice their own experiences for our benefit, so we feel it’s important that when we do give back, we go all out – which is exactly why Café 21 is perfect.

Inside Fenwick on St Mary’s Square, this sociable dining destination offers the epitome of indulgence: from its plush seating, ambient lighting and stylish interiors to the quality of fare on its plates.

See, Café 21 centres around the concept that “me time” matters – and we all know our mums could do with a little more of that, don’t we?

Hospitality comes first in this home from home. The team at Café 21 York find joy in perfecting the little details; from the temperature of your tea to the runniness of your egg yolk, they’re always on hand to ensure your experience is just the way you would like it.

Such personable service and quality dining usually comes with a hefty price tag, yet dining at Café 21 is more affordable than you might think. You can enjoy three courses for as little as £22.50 or a classic afternoon tea for two for £50.

An elegant, cosmopolitan venue, Café 21 York makes breakfast, lunch and early evening dining just as sophisticated as their late-night counterparts – which means you and Mum can enjoy food, fizz and frivolity out on the tiles and still get an early night.

Explore the menus at Café 21 York


She’s a Mum. A myth. A legend. And she deserves a dining experience to match.

After all, it’s not every day you get the chance to tuck into a Mother’s Day afternoon tea offering so refined it was also served to Victorian royalty. But that’s exactly what Café 21 promises.

The legend goes that, during the 1800s, the court of the Austrian Prince Matternich wanted a new culinary creation. The prince’s chef had taken ill, so young apprentice Franz Sacher stepped up and concocted the Viennese Sachertorte: a dense chocolate cake with a thin layer of apricot jam in between two halves, coated in dark chocolate icing and served with whipped cream.

It was so delicious, the chefs at Café 21 still follow the original recipe to this day.

While the Sachertorte may well be the proverbial cherry on top of this cake, everybody knows that one does not simply dive into an afternoon tea dessert-first. It’s by savouring the whole experience that you’ll taste the magic of this classic institution – which is why Café 21 really stands out from the crowd.

Quintessentially British, with everything freshly made and prepared in-house, you and Mum can start your Mother’s Day afternoon tea with a selection of traditional finger sandwiches (think smoked salmon and cream cheese, cheddar cheese and chutney, and chicken and tarragon mayonnaise), alongside your choice of beverage: Earl Grey, Darjeeling or English breakfast tea.

Of course, if you’re feeling frivolous, you can always upgrade to a Champagne afternoon tea and really pop the cork on your Mother’s Day celebrations.

After the savoury comes the scones; enjoy freshly baked fruit and plain varieties just as God intended: with lashings of clotted cream and strawberry jam.

Finally for the pièce de résistance. Alongside the iconic Sachertorte, you’ll find melt-in-your-mouth battenburg, raspberry and rose macaroons, cherry and almond tarts and the classic Hungarian sweet, Gâteau Esterházy, on the dessert tray – ready to take your York afternoon tea game from satisfactory to sublime.

Which is just what your Mum deserves.

Afternoon Tea at Café 21 York:

  • A selection of traditional sandwiches
    • Free-range egg mayonnaise, chopped shallots and watercress
    • Smoked salmon and cream cheese
    • Chicken and tarragon mayonnaise
    • York ham and grain mustard mayonnaise
    • Cheddar cheese and chutney
  • Raisin and plain scones
    • Freshly baked with clotted cream and strawberry jam
  • An assortment of handmade pastries
    • Battenburg
    • Raspberry and rose macaroons
    • Cherry and almond tart
    • Gâteau Esterházy
    • Sachertorte

Classic Afternoon Tea: £50 for two people

Champagne Afternoon Tea: £60 for two people

To find out more about Mother’s Day afternoon tea at Café 21 York or to book your table, visit their website

You can also follow Café 21 York on Facebook and Instagram

Café 21, Fenwick, 2 St Mary’s Square, Coppergate Centre, York YO1 9WY  

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