Afternoon tea in London has become a bit of a fashion lately with each restaurant/hotel/bus trying to out do the other. I’ve sampled my fair share of teas over the last year but one place that really knows what they are doing is Fortnum and Mason. They serve a traditional afternoon tea of sandwiches, scones and cake in one of the most beautiful, light and open spaces I’ve encountered compared to previous afternoon teas. This experience was luxurious in every way possible and made even more so because my best friend and boyfriend had organised it as a surprise for my birthday.
Afternoon Tea at Fortnum and Mason
We arrived slightly early for out 1.30pm booking here but by the time we had made our way across the shopping floors of this gigantic store we weren’t so early as we strolled onto the fourth floor and into the reception of the tea salon. There are dining spaces to both the left and the right of the reception area and we took a seat in reception while we waited to be taken to our table. Ours happened to be on the right side and as we were seated I was pleasantly surprised by how big our table was for just the two of us. So frequently are you squeezed onto a tiny table for afternoon tea and very quickly run out of space once the tea and food arrive. Of course the table was laid perfectly and the white table linen filled me with dread of actually needing to keep the jam inside my scone!
As per request I was provided with a gluten and dairy free option while my best friend had the normal menu. This offered you a few choices including a savoury afternoon tea and a vegetarian option but of course the only option for her was the classic afternoon tea. We also ordered tea from the very extensive menu, I opted for the Moroccan mint blend while my friend had the breakfast tea.
Our tea arrived shortly before the food and our waitress took her time pouring it for us which of course reminded me this was the posh loose leaf tea kind and I needed to be careful when pouring it. I tend to always forget the strainer with loose leaf tea! Mint has become my new favourite tea since giving up caffeine and this one certainly didn’t disappoint. As we waited for our food we took our time to people watch, you get such a wide range of people in Fortnum and Mason.
Our food came on individual stands and the waitress took her time to explain what everything was. Of course we retained this information for two minutes before forgetting meaning we had to guess the flavours of the cake later on. The food was laid out perfectly and the china all matched the beautiful duck egg blue that Fortnum and Mason is so famous for. We were presented with a plate of five different sandwiches, two scones with jam and butter (cream if you weren’t a silly ‘free from’ like me) and four different cakes. Although this might not seem like the biggest serving of food it certainly felt like it half way through when we were struggling to eat any more. Thankfully the service seemed relaxed when it comes to how long you spend at your table, we never once felt like we needed to hurry up with our food and stop talking.
What I liked about the afternoon tea here is that you are offered more of everything that comes on your first plate plus additional cake choices. This suited me as I often find the cake too sickly and need lots of savoury bites in between, so I welcomed the second round of sandwiches. They also felt like a real novelty to me as aside from making my own, it is hard to get sandwiches when out which are gluten and dairy free. Finally, the experience was made that little bit more special because my friend had mentioned in the reservation it was for my birthday and they presented me with a piece of cake and a candle.
As our afternoon tea came to an end, mostly because we could not fit another piece of cake or sandwich in no matter how hard we tried, I made the most of the leftovers and had them put in a box to take home. This pleased me dad no end until I told him he couldn’t eat the gluten and dairy free ones because they were mine.
Overall I loved the whole experience here, this afternoon tea had been on my London wishlist for as long as I can remember and it certainly didn’t disappoint. The service was professional and at a relaxed pace as not to rush you, the staff were super friendly and accommodating to any dietary needs and the food was beyond amazing. I put extra emphasis on how good the food was considering it was gluten and dairy free, I did not feel like I missed out on anything at all!
I would certainly return here.