Today, we did one of the things on my “list”. I’ve always dreamed of going to The Ritz in London for Afternoon Tea. We booked our table for today back in June as they do book up well in advance. (You can book online if this is a dream of yours as well.) Located in Piccadilly, just across from Green Park tube station, the Ritz has been a London institution for over one hundred years. Afternoon Tea is held in the Palm Court restaurant. It seemed relatively bereft of palms to me, but was very beautiful nonetheless, with decorations in white and gold, and a huge floral arrangement of lilies and other exotic flowers in a massive urn in the centre. It’s a magical place, not least of all because it is one of the few places in London to still enforce a dress code. Men must wear jackets and ties, and ladies must dress nicely too. Jeans, trainers etc., are totally forbidden. And the one man who did remove his jacket during tea (and to be fair it was terribly warm) was very politely asked to put it back on. The air conditioning was immediately turned on at that point.
And that is the thing about The Ritz. The service is impeccable. It’s totally discreet and yet you never want for anything that it does not appear within seconds. The cutlery and tea services are all silver, and you eat and drink from a china tea service. A three tier tea tray is brought to your table, with beautiful finger sandwiches on the bottom tier, an empty tier for warm scones which appear later in the middle, and the most beautiful miniature cakes on the top tier.
There are over ten different types of tea to choose from, all of which are served as leaf tea. You no sooner get close to finishing the contents of one tier that you are offered more of the contents to refill it.
We chose from beautiful tea sandwiches filled with cucumber, thin slices of poached chicken and mayonnaise, smoked salmon, ham and thinly sliced cheese and baby rolls filled with egg mayonnaise. The cheese sandwiches were presented on a sundried tomato bread. There was not a crust in sight.
The scones were brought warm to the table part way through. Some were fruited and some were plain. They were served with large pots of jam and cream, and were so flaky and delicious they virtually melted in the mouth.
And to finish there was the top tier of amazing miniature cakes and pastries. These ranged from tiny, decadent pieces of intensely chocolatey chocolate layer cake to flaky baby fruit pastries and macaroons to delicate mille feuille. They were exquisite.
Although they have three sittings each day for tea, you never feel rushed and at £37 each, I think it was a fairly affordable indulgence. It certainly is very good value for money. We all left the restaurant totally replete! I could not have eaten another bite. It was a super experience, one I heartily recommend, and dearly hope to repeat!