LELE’S VEGAN AFTERNOON TEA

I don’t really know when we got so into afternoon tea. I started going after heavy nights out, as there is something incredibly amusing about stuffing yourself with cake and trying to remember to lift your pinkie as you drink tea, when deeply and darkly hungover. Despite this tradition, I wasn’t even slightly hungover when I went to Lele’s monthly special of afternoon tea (although, having avoided alcohol recently, half a glass of bubbles went straight to my head).

As aforementioned, Lele’s vegan afternoon tea isn’t an everyday thing. Instead, sittings are run on a monthly basis, which means you have to book well in advance by sending them an email and arranging a deposit. This makes it all the more niche, and perfect for celebrating events (a late birthday treat for myself), planned in advance with plenty of time to look forward to. From 4pm – 6.15pm, Lele’s venue in Dalston is emptied of everyday diners, to offer swift service to a select few afternoon tea attendees.

I really wish that I was the sort of person and blogger who took the time to selectively photograph each cake and sandwich, to savour and rate it, but unfortunately you would’ve thought I’d never been fed after the way I was let loose and devoured the cake. Between my friend and I, we cleared all the sweets and savouries in record timing. I saw most of the other tables leaving with their leftover, unfinished treats boxed to go – which I personally can’t fathom. Nonetheless, everything on offer was pretty memorable, so I can at least remember what was consumed, even if there’s no picture evidence.

I’m not normally a sandwich person, but both the vegan cheese or faux smoked salmon/carrot sandwiches were really good. I don’t think you’d have been able to tell the scones from vegan scones (are normal scones even vegan?). The pastry selection consisted of a Victoria sponge, carrot cake that was supposed to be a brownie without cacao (tasted like carrot cake if I’m honest, but good carrot cake at that), and a chocolate tart. The latter was the only let down in my opinion, as the chocolate filling wasn’t quite right. 

Overall, Lele’s had a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere, and the once-a-month sitting makes it all the more exclusive. All the food was delicious (vegan cakes have come a long way), so it’s definitely one to put on the bucket list for vegan fine diners and afternoon tea enthusiasts in London. Priced at £25 per person, it’s also a steal when compared to other venues charging over double the price.

Lele’s 

Dalston Square

London

E8 3BQ

Next afternoon tea; 8th September

AFTERNOON TEA AT THE RITZ

we look almost put together, considering the cirumstances

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.

not wholly sure what this was but some sort of rhubarb/white chocolate mousse biscuit

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. 

the ritz

150 piccadilly

london

£58pp