I think it was almost a year to this date that I last dragged myself out, horribly hungover, for afternoon tea at the Sanderson, and remembered to blog about it. This highbrow venture was swiftly followed by an unplanned trip into Camden and a tattoo to balance out the dignity and decorum, so overall an interesting Sunday.
The concept of afternoon tea remains slightly perplexing to me, and I complained that going at 11.30 am to the Ritz, a year later, was terribly early for tea and cake – especially after going out the night before – but still managed to drown my hungover sorrows in sugar, cake and scones.
You get what you pay for in terms of food and service; every waiter is incredibly attentive and proper. You get your tea poured for you. A glass of champagne was offered – towards which I balked, deeming alcohol to be the last thing my hangover needed – and the respective jokes about hair of the dog were courteously exchanged.
I’m not really at the level of blogging where one whips out a professional camera and teeters on a seat to get good angles of food. It’s more a case of stealing furtive, blurry shots of dishes, and swiftly forgetting what I’ve eaten before I get to post about it. Nonetheless, afternoon tea includes an array of sandwiches, three cake type petit fours, scones, and additional cake if that isn’t a wide enough assortment of cake to tickle your fancy. The menu boasts of a whole 18 different types of loose-leaf tea, and they apparently employ a Tea Sommelier (from what I understand, the equivalent of a wine connoisseur, but for tea), who travels the world just to bring the finest of teas to your doorstep. The Ritz is also one of the only traditional afternoon tea hosts to offer a complete vegan menu (on this occasion, I decided not to force vegan cream upon myself), but I’ve read that it is just as good.
I have a pretty simple palate, even when it comes to desserts (I’ll happily opt for chocolate chip cookies over any nouveau cuisine pudding any day of the week), but was pleasantly surprised by the sweets on offer. I may also have been hungover enough to blissfully fill my mouth with anything sweet.
A universal tip for afternoon tea at the Ritz (or really anywhere) is telling them that one of you is celebrating a birthday. One of my friend’s sort of was (albeit a month late). Any mention of a birthday and you get a free cake, lit candle, and a brief rendezvous of happy birthday on the piano. Not quite as embarrassing as an entire restaurant yodelling happy birthday, and who in their right mind would turn down free cake.
Staging a proposal is potentially also worth a shot – you never know, you might even get a bigger cake.