Monday 25 March 2013

Afternoon Tea at The Ritz, London

Let me tell you a little bit about the story behind how this afternoon tea came to be. 

Four years ago, I was accepted at Cambridge to study Economics. Of course, my parents were delighted. And as a reward, my dad was going to take me for afternoon tea! And at The Ritz! Somehow, we never really looked into making a booking. Actually, I think the word I'm looking for is that a certain someone had 'tactically forgotten'. And then I graduated and started working and that was that.

But aha! 3 months ago I was browsing the booking website at the Ritz (as you do) and it seemed someone had made a cancellation... so before any more forgetting could be done (because by the time we got round to it I have have retired... Who knows?) I made a booking for three.

Oh my, I do love afternoon tea. And thank you to my wonderful parents for taking me! :)

Before I go on, let me set the scene a bit. The Ritz is beautiful. Afternoon tea is held in the Palm Court, which is between the hotel lobby and the Ritz restaurant. Men must wear a jacket and a tie and women the equivalent (although I did see some dodgy shorts and tights combination when I went...), and the waiters are all dressed impeccably in red waistcoats and tails. And long gone are the days when guests would arrive in their horse drawn carriages, now your reservation is checked on an iPad and you are showed to your table.

And what a beautiful table it is.

This is one of the centrepieces in the Palm Court. We know nothing more other than it's a 'reclining female figure wrought in gilded lead'.

And a beautiful ceiling too. I think this may just about beat my living room ceiling right with the fly stuck in it. But only marginally.

Our waiter promptly brought us our teas - I tried the Silver Needle tea with 'notes of fresh, honeydew melon and a pleasantly sweet aftertaste'. Which I agree with, until it has brewed too long and then has more of a Chinese medicine aftertaste. I would recommend the darjeeling though (known as the 'champagne of tea'), that's my favourite. And we were also brought the three tier stand with finger sandwiches and a selection of pastries (more about that later). The scones where to come 'in a short while' as we were told it was still being baked.

Oh, you mean freshly baked scones straight from the oven? Yes please!!

However, it did make for an incomplete photo, which the food blogger inside me was ever so slightly disappointed with.

As soon as we had eaten a few finger sandwiches (the classics such as cucumber and cream cheese, smoked salmon with lemon butter, egg mayonnaise with chopped shallots, cheddar cheese and chutney) a waiter promptly came to replenish the stocks on our stand with more.

And then our scones came! Now I'm not just saying this because it's The Ritz, but it was one of the best scones I've had. Very soft and fluffy like how you would imagine a cloud would taste like. Not that you would (could) do that. But you know, metaphorically.

And like a good foodie I executed The Proper Way To Eat A Scone. Please, treat your scone with respect! I tore my scone in half in stead of cutting it. However, I forgot all of my manners, and squished the scone halves back together. Like a McSconewich. Oh dear.

That was just wrong, and I apologise profusely to the world of sconetiquette.

The pastries we had were a selection of chocolate cake, mille feuille and a white chocolate and passionfruit (or raspberry? I didn't quite catch what the waiter said) macaron. The chocolate cake was a bit too rich for me but I had to fight over the mille feuille with my mum :)

Oh! There's also a piano and harp playing in the background. So imagine that too. I could hear some Les Mis, Phantom of the Opera....Lion King.. and.. Bruno Mars? At the Ritz?

Hm. Okay. The piano version of 'When I Was Your Man' is very soothing. If only we had Bruno's dulcet tones too...

During the service, a waiter comes round with a trolley offering more cakes. Somehow it worked perfectly with three selections and three of us! Almost fate, I would say...

These were lemon pound cake, rhubarb crumble and a walnut and date cake with a walnut cream. Top points for nom goes to the rhubarb crumble. There was just that something about the vanilla cream.

Well, probably the vanilla. 

But that's just too easy. I'm going to put it down to some magic ingredient.

Probably the rhubarb.

I'll stop now.

By the end of the sitting, we were very content (i.e. full!). So, a couple of things if you ever go...

Traditional afternoon tea is currently £45 per person. You go in the Ritz entrance and ask for the Palm Court (which is on the right). On the left, there's a cloakroom to check in your coats before being seated. And opposite the cloakroom is the ladies 'Powder Room'. Even the toilets (sorry, Powder Room just doesn't slip off the tongue) have full length mirrors, water and sofas inside. Maybe just in case you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and have to sit down before in case you faint. After the tea, the waiters will clean your plates and cutlery (unfortunately you can't take any leftovers home, only if it's a birthday cake) and bring the bill. They're all so polite and friendly, and are happy to take a photo of your group (so don't be afraid to ask! Everyone does it!).

And enjoy!

And lastly, I've finally moved my blog onto Twitter! So please follow me @puddingpielane. 

But beware! This means you will be subject to my Random Rants. And photos. And that I still don't understand the difference between using @ and #. I know, I know, I'm generation 'y' therefore I should....but I don't.

I just don't. 

And it's stressful.

Thank goodness for afternoon tea. It just has a habit of making everything better.

Have a good week and a lovely Easter!


  1. Oh it does indeed look grand and beautiful! Food is making me drool, must try it out when I have time! Lovely post :)

  2. How elegant to have tea at The Ritz! Everything looks amazing. :)

  3. Sc-ON! And that's not a debatable point, it's a fact. One that I feel strongly about imposing on others.

    Nothing beats a good afternoon tea complete with unlimited sandwiches and cakes. Yes.


  4. I love the Ritz - so classy and elegant. The tea's pretty good too!

  5. Oh what a splendid time you had. Afternoon tea is so civilised, I think it's my favourite meal, which I probably only have a couple of times a year! I do love the opulent decor and the tea service. I went to the Ritz many many years ago when I was a student and it wasn't half as good then. We were quite disappointed. I've heard it's improved a lot since.

  6. This looks wonderful - such a classy way to spend a few hours. I must recommend this to my family next time we have something to celebrate!

  7. Wow! How wonderful letting us all share your precious moments at the Ritz. I went to the Wolseley (next door)for afternoon tea but the Ritz looks like the 'real deal'.


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