One of my things to do on my list of goals was to have Afternoon Tea at the Ritz. And believe me, the capital letters are warranted. A little before my 27th birthday, my Mum called and asked if there was anything I wanted in particular. There wasn't. And so she mentioned that she'd seen my list of things to do on my blog, and wondered if I might like to go for a spot of tea a the aforementioned luxury establishment.
Um. Yes. Yes I think I would rather. BEST IDEA EVER THANKYOU!!!!
So July and the end of term pottered round, and my parents and brother came to stay with me in London town. We dressed for the occasion - you have to, it wasn't just for fun! - and headed down to the Ritz. We were booking in for 3:30 and wandered through the opulent lobby looking for the famous Palm Court. We were directed to our table and took our seats.
On the table were menus (I pinched one) listing the types of tea available. Then the waiter explained when he had our tea order, he would bring us our stand of sandwiches and cakes. Yum. Yes please. The other three Smith family members opted for the Ritz Royal Blend, but I enjoyed a pot of Russian Caravan. Or in fact, most of a pot, as the waiter came to refresh all the tea after a bit. Y'know, because sometimes if can get a little over-steeped and that don't stand for that sort of thing at the Ritz.
Tea drinking commenced. And it was delicious. I reckoned anything not nailed to the table was fair game to take home as a souvenir, but my family disagreed. Fair enough I suppose, and a solid, heavy silver tea strainer would have been a pain to carry home.
And so we arrive at the food. Two tiers of goodies, starting with a range of sandwiches each. Cheese and pickle, ham and mustard, roast chicken and horseradish, smoked salmon and lemon butter, egg mayonnaise with shallots and cress and cucumber, cream cheese and dill. A variety of breads and each delicately flavoured and entirely too moreish. I hadn't had any lunch for space-saving reasons (it's important to leave plenty of room for afternoon tea) so it was very gratifying to discover that you can have as many sandwiches that take your fancy. The waiters were happy to top them up for as long as you were prepared to munch them. I may have had 14. They were really good.
Then to the little cakes. A vanilla slice for Dad - his favourite - a chocolatey slice thing for my brother and a second for the rest of us to sample, an amazing salted caramel and chocolate macaroon and my own personal favourite: a passionfruit cream. I've never had anything like it before, but it was creamy and delicious and it was a shame to have to split it four ways. But once again, the waiters came to the rescue and valiantly offered to replenish the cakes. Um. Yes please. Smug expression.
You might well be thinking: "Why are there no scones? Scones are the foundation upon which the whole concept of Afternoon Tea is constructed!" and you would be right. But don't worry. To ensure the scones are warm when you eat them, they don't bring out the scones at the Ritz until you are ready for them. Then the two tier cake stand becomes three, and there are scones for all. Two each, to be precise.
So having consumed a sandwich course, a cake course and a scones course, it was natually time for a dessert course. A trolley came round and we were offered a choice of lemon drizzle cake or sticky toffee pudding. Lemon drizzle please.
No trip to any fancy place is complete without a trip to the bathroom as these are invariably fancy and you get to have a bit of a poke around. Hence the 'Powder Room Selfie'. On my way, the pianist who had been tinkling the ivories during our tea asked if there was anything I would like him to play. I had a bit of a think and in the end requested 'Puttin' on the Ritz' because while it's a classic they always play, I hadn't yet heard it that afternoon. I couldn't leave without hearing it!
The whole afternoon was absolutely wonderful and we had a brilliant time. It was formal and luxurious but surprisingly unstuffy. The waiters were attentive but didn't look down their noses (I thought they might) and they not only allowed photos to be taken, but were happy to down trays and take a snap for you. Plus when my Dad asked, they brought my Mum and me a souvenir menu and a couple of free postcards. So I hadn't needed to pinch one at all. I suppose the clientele is composed almost entirely of tourists treating themselves on a very special occasion rather than the rich and famous, and so they must be used to people trying to wring every drop out of a once-in-a-lifetime experience. They were lovely and helpful and the atmosphere was great. Viewed from another way, you could say it's a very posh way to serve an all-you-can-eat buffet. I really had eaten all I could eat and we had to saunter slowly - very slowly - through the park for an hour afterwards to let it all go down.
A truly wonderful afternoon, and a doorman in full tails and uniform took this picture for us on our way out.
P.S. And with another 16 photos snapped, my total for #500snapsofsummer is brought bang up to 76, leaving me with only 424 to go...