A Fortnum & Mason Cream Tea
I’ve always loved quintessential English rituals, such as fish and chips at the seaside, strawberries and cream in summer, egg and cress sandwiches, and especially a good cream tea.
I’ve sniffed out and consumed this quaint tradition at posh hotels in London, restaurants, tea rooms in Yorkshire, National Trust cafes, and even country pubs. In fact maybe one day I should write a book. A good cream tea is a work of art.
As I am such a connoisseur of cream teas, my expectations are quite high and I know a quaffable Earl Grey tea and a scoffable cucumber sandwich when I encounter them. Unfortunately, a Fortnum & Mason cream tea (served in the St James restaurant on the 4th floor) is not the best I’ve ever had and ranks far below a local hotel’s version just around the corner from me.
But then these establishments rely on their name to carry them. I’ve been told from a reliable source (my cream-tea-scoffing allies) that The Ritz is not up to much cop either. The service in Fortnums is pleasant though not overly attentive, the tables are attractive, the decoration dull, the clientele likewise, but the view from the window onto Picadilly makes up for this (if you are lucky enough to be seated near the window).
The cream tea itself scores 4 out of 10. You get 4 measly sandwiches each, 2 scones, 2 cakes, a pot of tea and a glass of champagne for just under £40(!). I took a picture of the tea before its inevitable demolition. The best thing about the presentation was the lovely silver teapots and milk jugs with matching tea strainers. The clotted cream was also shaped into a perfect dome, if that’s what pleases you.