Last weekend, Ed and I had high tea at The Ritz. I’ve wanted to have high tea here for more than five years, but have always found it booked out months in advance of any trips I did to London.
Happily, it absolutely lived up to my high expectations. This is, quite possibly, the pinnacle of high tea experiences (Jolly good! Rah rah rah!).
The Ritz hotel is all-out glitz and glam – soaring ceilings, gold leaf everywhere, doormen in tails and huge displays of red roses (for Valentine’s Day). The dress code is strict – jackets and ties for men and no jeans, singlets or sneakers. Everyone being dressed up definitely helps make it feel like more of an occasion. Plus, I think I’d feel quite out of place being served high tea, on a silver stand, by waiters wearing tails, if I was wearing a tracksuit!
Because it was Valentine’s Day, we had a glass of sparking to start with and then our sandwiches and cakes arrived on a silver three-tier stand. The vegetarian selection of finger sandwiches was: cucumber with cream cheese and dill, egg, cheddar and onion jam, hummus and rocket and salad. Ed had ham and smoked salmon in place of my hummus and salad sandwiches. The cucumber was really good, with super thin shavings of cucumber. I also really liked the cheddar cheese sandwiches, which were made with semi-dried tomato flavoured bread.
Once we’d finished our sandwiches and wine, tea arrived in large silver teapots. I had lemon verbena and Ed had Russian Caravan. At the same time, plain and raisin scones were delivered to the table, replacing our now empty plates of sandwiches on the tiered stand.
Now, this is a BIG CALL people, so get ready…I think The Ritz’s scones were the best scones I have ever eaten! They were the perfect size to hold in your hand, warm, fluffy and yet with some substance. They were served with a rich strawberry jam and super thick clotted cream. I think the cream alone would have put them in my top five scone experiences (yes, I have a top five scone experiences…).
I did have to make a strategic call though and only eat one scone, because there were a lot of other cakes to get through. Not only did we have the individual cakes on the top tier of our stand, but there was also a cake trolley which came past our table, offering slices of a rhubarb and ginger tart and a chocolate hazelnut layer cake. On the tiered stand were: a lemon curd macaron, a white chocolate and orange tart, two brownie mousse cakes and a coconut cream filled macaroon. The lemon curd macaron was a surprising highlight for me, one of the best macarons I’ve had. It sort of tasted like eating a super light lemon meringue pie. The coconut macaroon was fine, but didn’t really appeal to either of us, but every cake was beautifully presented and perfectly executed.
High tea at The Ritz in London really is the epitome of old-school British style. It’s incredibly proper and privileged. Ed and I joked that not wearing a jacket or dropping a sugar cube on the floor would get us immediately deported. But, as we sipped tea and ate our cakes off beautiful forget-me-not patterned china, it was also a nice reminder and celebration of how well we have adapted to and embraced life in London. We’ve now been here nearly 6 months and we are still loving it, despite the occasional sub-zero temperatures!