As a special treat, forget going out for lunch – make it tea. It’s a great British tradition and in London there are now lots of posh places that will offer up cucumber sandwiches without the crusts and a perfectly brewed pot of tea.
There is even a Tea Guild which each year hosts a London Tea Awards ceremony. “Tea” for me always conjours up images of the Ritz or the Savoy not that I have been to either!), but how things have moved on. This year the Atheneum took top spot at the tea awards with its Evergreen Tea – orange blossom scones, crumpets and lemon curd and its Honey Tea – lavender and honey macaroons, chocolate and honey mille feuille, and a glass of Honey champagne, which I admit even to me with a sweet tooth sounds one honey too far. The Capital Hotel in Basil Street won the Award of Excellence. Out of London Pennyhill Park Hotel in Bagshot, Surrey won the Out of Town award.
This year the Berkeley was doing a Pret a Porter themed tea, and the Dorchester offered a Wimbledon tea, which is where I come in. Yes I went to the Dorchester, for a “Wimbledon themed” tea, and I have to say it was amazing value for money. Where to start? Well the price at £30 seemed expensive, but there was so much to eat it was like a proper meal, and we were given doggy bags to take home, full of cakes.
The service was impeccable, we were not under any pressure to eat up and go, and in fact in the end we stayed for 3 hours. The atmosphere is casual, and yet there were people there who make it a weekly event – as one does! Anyway, for us it was very much a one off.
So we dined on raspberry mousse, a variety of delicate mini scones with delicious jams, strawberries and cream, and a fabulous array of sandwiches on gorgeous breads, and no crusts of course. Then more and more sandwiches came round together with a huge variety of teas to chose from. Feeling quite full by then and thinking that was it the cakes arrived, and oh what cakes1 As it was a Wimbledon theme we had little tennis courts of chocolate mouse on a biscuit base, sprayed green and with a rice paper net and a little tennis ball. There were almond sponge tennis balls, tiny little tarts with strawberries and flower petals – all served on a tiered cake stand. We manfully ate them all, only to have another lot arrive – hence the doggy boxes.
So, if you get the opportunity, go for Tea. Its great value for an enormous meal, and all in luxurious surroundings where you are waited on by charming staff. Even the bottomless pit that is a teenage boy would be challenged to eat it all.