What is more typical of a typical British (touristic) day than an afternoon tea in a very nice restaurant? Nothing. So we tried it.
Cécile and I are far from tourists in London. I have been living in the city for a year, and Cécile has been living between London and France for a few years now. So let it be known that we’ve done (almost) everything there is to do in London for tourists… And we decided it was more than time to try the infamous afternoon tea. After much looking around websites, discovering you can have tea in a bus (really!) and hesitating a lot, ours minds were set. We booked a table at the Scoff and Banter on Oxford Street for the following day!
Three o’clock on a Saturday, the right time for an Oxford Street packed with tourists. We entered through the lobby of a four-star hotel, and are directed to the first floor where the tea room is. Soft music welcomes us, and with it a waiter asking for the name for the reservation and showing us to our table. Everything is nice and proper, with the pretty mugs and cutlery already on the table and the waiter giving us the menus. “First time?” he asks, like we don’t look exactly like what we are — two girls with French accents and clothes way too casual for that kind of afternoon treat. He explains us how the afternoon tea works (four categories of food, we can pick two items in each, plus the drinks) and gives us a few minutes to make our choices. Which is overwhelming to say the least, with lobster soup and oysters on the menu along with more typical scones and an array of desserts.
Cécile and I hadn’t really eaten much for lunch, and it turned out to be a brilliant idea. The food kept coming, and it was enough to keep us sated all weekend long! Everything was delicious, as was the tea, and it was almost difficult to finish eating because there was so much of it. It doesn’t look like much when you look at it like that, but lots of little nibbles add up really quickly until you find yourself full before you see the end of it! So it might look expensive like this, but it definitely makes up for the dinner you will skip later that night!
The tea was delicious too, it smelled heavenly and very strongly. I ordered a jasmine tea while Cécile got a berries tea, and both smelled amazing. My jasmine tea has a very delicate taste and I was able to drink three mugs out of it (adding sugar, then milk toward the end because we stayed a while and it got really bitter). You could also order coffee if you wanted, but we didn’t see the point in not drinking tea during an afternoon tea. Other, more expensive options came with a glass of champagne, for those interested in that kind of things. (I don’t drink alcohol and I’m poor so…)
In the end, we both paid around £40 for the afternoon tea, and we had a lot of fun. It was nice playing pretend, both at being big tourists and at being more posh than we are, and all the waiters in the tea room were really welcoming and professional. It’s not something we can afford every week, for obvious reasons, but Cécile and I both agreed that we want to try it again in the future. This one was a typical British afternoon tea, but other tea rooms have more atypical ones, like a Mad Hatter afternoon tea, and we definitely want to try it out! Also the one at the Ritz. Just because we like to play posh!