afternoon tea, bea’s of bloomsbury (mar 11)

Bea's of Bloomsbury

I took The Girl on a rather decadent day out last month, and it included our favourtie Sunday past time – afternoon tea!

This time, I had booked up at Bea’s of Bloomsbury.  I had heard great things about them, but never been myself.  We went to what  (I assume) is their original branch in Theobald’s Road.

It’s a lovely little place, but IS very ‘compact and bijou’, especially if you are sat near the counter as we were.  Luckily, on a Sunday in that part of London, there isn’t much passing trade, so we weren’t disturbed.  The décor is contemporary and sophisticated and a little quirky.  It comes across very much as a cake shop rather than a ‘tea room’ if that makes sense.

We were given a choice of teas and brought our selection of savoury baguettes.  These were 3 each of a third of 3 different baguettes.  They were very nice, but a little more ‘trendy’ than the traditional finger sandwiches that you get, so The Girl wasn’t quite as keen.  They did tell me what they were, but i can’t for the life of me remember – but *I* liked them. One had chorizo and peppers in, and as far as I’m concerned, chorizo makes everything better!

Then came the exciting stuff.  the scones and cakes!

Cakes!! (And scones)

Oh my – this was an absolute treat, and my hips expanded about 2″ just looking at the serving plate.

Of course, there were the obligatory scones, jam and clotted cream.  These were lovely and light, but obviously not the intended stars of the show.  Bea’s has a display absolutely bursting at the seams full of cakes, cupcakes and other glorious baked treats, and this is where they excel.

We had 2 cupcakes – one vanilla & raspberry and one chocolate fudge.  They were light, full of flavour with beautiful frosting.  We then had a selection of mini meringues, marshmallows, brownies, blondies, chocolate & almond biscuits and killer brownies.

What a glorious sight!

If you like your cakes, this is the place for you – they were all so well made, so full of flavour.  The marshmallows were a welcome addition too – I loved those as they’re not something you usually see with an afternoon tea.  however, the sheer amount of ‘cake’ became a bit much after a while, and felt a little heavy.  We couldn’t finish and ended up taking some little biscuits and a brownie home for The Man.  I think that a little fruit pastry or a lighter more mousse-like cake would’ve been a relief.

However, at just £17 each you can’t really complain – and if you go prepared there really isn’t anything not to like. It was all top-notch!

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afternoon tea, altitude 360 london

How to make a young girl happy!

Yes, me & The Girl are total suckers for a good afternoon tea – even more so when I manage to get a Groupon voucher.

This one was actually a few months ago, and I keep meaning to write up about it – better late than never!

Altitude 360 is at the top of Millbank Tower near Vauxhall and they offer purely afternoon teas between 12-4pm on Saturdays and Sundays as an ‘Afternoon Tea Experience’.  With our Groupon voucher, we got it for £35 for the two of us, which was a fantastic deal.

The sandwiches were lovely, a mix of traditional finger sandwiches and mini baguettes – and they give you a menu beforehand so that if you have a fussy-eater in your party (like The Girl!), you can stipulate beforehand which you do or don’t want.  The sandwiches were fresh and light and a perfect start.  The scones were still warm, although the jam wasn’t the best I’d ever had – and for some reason we were given two plain and one fruit, which seems odd between two people.

CAKES!!!

The cakes were lovely, if not very creative – a squidy chocolate brownie type, a lemony sponge square, a chocolate cream layer cake and a meringue nest with cream.  Rather ‘pedestrian’ but all very good for what they were.

Grey day yes, but still a fabulous view!

However, what you really go to Altitdue 360 for is all in the name – it’s the fabulous views across London.  Even though we went on a very grey day, there were moments where the sun was streaking through the clouds highlighting certain landmarks and it felt truly magical – a fantastic experience!

afternoon tea, bloomsbury bar & restaurant

Happiest when eating!

I have an offer that I got with a subscription which enables me to have 2 for the price of 1 Afternoon Teas at Radisson Hotels in London (and we all know how much I like afternoon teas!)

As I had told The Girl that I would take her to the Biritsh Museum on Sunday, I booked for us to go to The Bloomsbury Bar & Restaurant whch is part of the Radisson Edwardian Bloomsbury.

When we got in ther, the staff were very accomodating – but this was hardly surprising as it was completely empty – in fact, there was only one other couple in the restaurant the whole time that we were theer.

I was impressed that they offered The Girl the option of having hot chocolate instead of tea (which she eagerly took up), but was less impressed that I was offered ‘tea’ and not given a choice of teas on a menu like elsewhere.

Our tea and chocolate were brought to us, and The Girl was very flattering about hers, and then they brought out our stand of goodies.  Our scones were wrapped in a cloth to keep them warm, which I thought was a nice touch, although obviously less aesthetically pleasing!  Two of the cakes on the top though looked particularly scrummy – and we had a decent-sized portion of cream and jam for our scones.

I was extremely disappointed in the sandwiches – they were so dull!  Plain cucumber, plain smoked salmon, plain ham and egg mayonnaise.  I ate the smoked salmon even though I don’t usually like it, and it didn’t really bother me as it tasted of nothing at all.  In fact, the bread was even so cold, that I was wondering whether they had all been frozen at some stage! They are also loaded with butter, and The Girl doesn’t really like butter much – and this almost looked like it had been sliced into onto the bread. NOT a good start at all.

So, we started on the scones.  They were large and light and still warm, but both sultana scones which is unusual.  The cream was unfortunately almost solid and more butter-like than unctious clotted cream, but the jam was full of strawberries and had a good flavour.

So, onto the top tier.  There were two very elaborate oval creations and then 4 triangular slices of lemon drizzle cake and two of chocolate fudge cake.  The lemon drizzle cake was lovely and moist and lemony, and the chocolate deep and rich and sticky.

White chocolate mousse and raspberry

The two elaborate cakey creations were very much the stars of the show.  The first (above) was a light yet rich white chocolate mousse, with a layer of raspberry puree on top and a disc of raspberry jelly inside, with a soaked sponge on the bottom.  This was extremely yummy – apart from the white chcoolate shards on the outside, which tasted a little on the ‘cheap cooking chocolate’ side!

The other one, which was similar you can just see in the top pic.  This was (I think) a delicate lavendar-flavoured mousse (at least, that’s what it tasted to me) with a strawberry coulis that oozed out from the centre.  They were both extremely yummy.

The staff, although semmingly attentive, didn’t ask if I wanted a refil when I finished my pot of tea – although when i took a couple of pics, one guy asked me if I wanted a pic of the two of us, which we did – but unfortunately he took it out of focus *sigh*.

Overall, for what *I* paid (just under £20 for the two of us), it wasn’t too bad…but then I paid the same at The Montcalm, and I think the quality was much better there.

I now have to decide whether to try a different Radisson!

afternoon tea at the montcalm

The Girl was very impressed

A few months ago, I had bought a Groupon voucher £19 for afternoon tea for two at The Montcalm.  It was expiring on 31st March so I was rapidly running out of time to use it!

So, I rang them during the week to see what time I could get in at the weekend – and the only time was apparently midday on Sunday.  So I booked it and crossed my fingers that The Girl would behave herself so that I could take her for her first ever afternoon tea.

She was a very good girl on Saturday, so we woke up late on Sunday (well, clocks went forward!) and quickly made our way up to Marble Arch.

The Montcalm is a gorgeous boutiquey hotel, just off of Marble Arch, between Oxford Street and Bryanstone Square.  On one of those many streets of its type in Central London, where you step off of the main road and enter a little idyllic world that you would never have realised was there if you weren’t looking for it.

The staff were all very friendly, completely prepared for the Groupon voucher (which is always a bonus!) and actually seemed to be extra professionally to The Girl, which really made her day.

We had our tea menu and I went for the house blend, which I always do.  And then they delivered everything.

Afternoon tea @ The Montcalm

As you can see, unlike my TLSee Afternoon Tea @ The Howard last month, it was pretty minimalist.

The sandwiches were a lot lighter, and there were less of them (cheese & cucumber, ham, egg & cress), and again, we had half as many scones (one plain, one fruit), but they were light and yummy.  The little cakey bits were gorgeous little bites of loveliness – and nothing like the heavier cakier ones that I’ve had before.

The Girl thoroughly enjoyed it all and did a bloody good job of being ladylike, which I was most impressed with, until the moment she happily chomped down on the chocolatey-topped cake and dicovered to her horror that it was actually coffee flavoured buttercream inside.

Oh how I laughed.  she was very discreet, and just handed over the rest of it to me – which was great as coffee cakes are lush, and there’s not enough of them in the world which haven’t been tainted with walnuts!  i gave her half my macaroon, so she was happy then 🙂

All in all, a far lighter afternoon tea, lovely surroundings, perfect as a pit-stop if you’re shopping on Oxford Street and don’t want to be weighed down after eating too much cake!

tlsee afternoon tea at the howard

Ages ago, I bought a couple of Groupon vouchers to get afternoon tea at The Howard Swissotel in Temple – £19 each instead of £39, a bargain!

So, me and my mate (who is also an afternoon tea lover) decided to have ‘tea for dinner’ one night a couple of weeks ago, and sed teh vouchers.

The Howard is just behind Temple station, but unfortunately The Mauve Lounge where the tea is served is on the ground floor of the hotel, which means you don’t get a view across the river.  However, the room IS very nice, contemporary and stylish without being too over done.

 

Finger sandwiches, fresh fruit tartlets, macaroons, cakes

So out came our ‘starters’.  the sandwiches were, well, sandwiches.  I have to admit, they weren’t particularly special – unlike the ones I’d had at Claridges.  In fact, they felt a little heavy  which isn’t the way that you want to start off what is going to be quite a large meal.

The fruit tartlets were gorgeous – thin, buttery pastry filled with yumminess.  the macaroons were also extremely nice, light and flavourful – there was one chocolate and one vanilla.

We then got our scones, clotted cream and jam – one fruit and one plain scone each.  Again, they were unfortunately a little on the heavy side, which meant that we found it all rather difficult to get through.  in fact, by the time we finished them, we had really had our fill!

 

Yes, I took the photo with the tray upside-down!

This part is what makes the TLSee Afternoon tea unique – all the little 3D chocolates and biscuits.  But we really were too stuffed and too full of tea to even attempt to make a dent in these OR the two cupcakes (one lemon, one chocolate) and two slices of almond, walnut and chocolate cake!

However, The Howard are obvioulsy very used to this happening, as the waitress came over to us and asked if we would like our leftovers packaged up.

 

Classy doggy bags!

How cute are these?!  They just split the leftovers between the two of us, and The Man and The Girl chomped their way through all the goodies over that night and the next day!  Very happily!

It was a lovely evening – had fun with my mate, nice surroundings, lovely tea (the waitress noticed when I was idiot enough to forget to use my strainer and replaced my cup and brewed me another pot!), and very yummy sweet things.  However, there wasn’t the delicacy to it all as you would hope for from an ‘elegant’ afternoon tea, so it was often rather too heavy and filling.  the doggy bags kind of made up for that though!

I’ve just looked at their website, and it looks like they have reduced their price to £32 now.  I was happy paying £19, but I don’t think I’d have been thrilled to pay over £30 for it.

The staff were lovely though, and it was a good experience!

afternoon tea at claridges

Chocolate Cake Selection

All my friends seem to be turning the big four-oh recently!  One of my oldest friends (one I’ve known the longest time obviously – not actually the oldest) hit this magnificent age on Sunday, and so we arranged for me to treat her to the rather opulent Afternoon Tea at Claridges on Monday.

We had both gone for Afternoon Tea at The Ritz about 3 years ago together with some other friends – which had been a lovely treat, although I had been very disgusted by the toilets, which were down some dark dingy stairs, had a queue right out the door and smelled totally gross and un-Ritzy.

We happened to go to the loo before we had our tea – and the difference was rather pleasant!

Once seated in the ‘comfortably posh’ foyer lounge, we were first able to choose which teas we would like (we both went for the Royal Claridges – as when in Rome…) and that was brought across to us with our plate of finger sandwiches.  The selection included cream cheese and cucumber, smoked salmon and horseradish mayonnaise, egg mayonnaise and tomato, smoked chicken and hickory mayonnaise and ham with mustard mayonnaise – of which the last was definitely the nicest as it was in the most gorgeous malty bread.  And when offered, we accepted another plate of sandwiches 😉

How sweet was this!

The service was impeccable – all of the waiting staff were so polite, on hand to pour our tea through our lovely silver tea-strainer but not at all intrusive.

And when they saw my friend open her card, they arranged for the pianist and cellist to play Happy Birthday and brought her out a special cake with a candle – which was a lovely

touch, and I think made her day 🙂

Next came our lovely light scones with clotted cream and jam, and thus started the ongoing debate as to whether you shoudl put your jam or cream on first.  I say cream then jam, my friend says the other way!  Now, if it isn’t clotted cream, then I can understand putting the jam on first, but as far as I am concerned, clotted cream is far thicker and more difficult to spread than jam, so you put that on first as it is easier to spread/drizzle jam over the top of it, as when you do it the other way round, the cream slips around on the jam underneath as you try to spread it!

Muchos yumminess!

Then was the exciting bit as this week is Chocolate Week in London, and instead of their usual pastries and cakes, we had a selection of beautiful chocolate creations by master chocolatier William Curley.  Every single one of them was gorgeous – and I think we were

both a little disappointed that we’d pigged out on sandwiches, and had to turn down an additional plate of cakes!  Although it could have made us sick, I guess!

At the end, we were both presented with a little box of two special chocolates to take home, and I gave mine to The Man.

A gorgeous experience that I would recommend to anyone.  I love love love Afternoon Teas and am determined to treat myself more often!

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