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Tea in the Garden – Primrose Hill

July 24, 2011

This weekend has been beautifully sunny here in London. My boyfriend and I have spent it wandering around Regents Park and Primrose Hill enjoying the sunshine. We recently discovered Tea in the Garden. We must have walked past so many times without noticing it. The lady who runs it says that they want to keep it quiet and peaceful so they don’t advertise it overly. Perhaps that is why they also don’t allow children under 10 years of age. It is very calm and peaceful!  The entrance looks like a little gardening centre but tucked away down a little alley by the railway is the small terrace garden where you can have tea and cake.

There is also a small amount of indoor seating consisting of low stools and cushions. The interior is a Moroccan and English fusion.

On this occasion there is a choice of 6 teas, two types of cake (lemon and toffee) and Baklava. I had an Earl Grey tea and shared a piece of the lemon sponge with my boyfriend. I would say that the price for the tea was a little bit high. It was £4 for a small pot of tea. The cake was £2 .  Although, the tea was enough for two, and the cake was delicious. A light fluffy sponge with a butter cream icing and lemon curd filling. It was so sweet that it was fine for sharing.

I loved the combination of the pretty English and delicate Moroccan glass.  I wonder if they do coffee or fresh mint tea? I’ll definitely check that out next time.

They had a great selection of papers and magazines which we enjoyed reading. It was so nice to sit peacefully among the flowers and drink our tea.  A novelty for a garden-less flat dweller like ourselves.

The two ladies who run the place seem extremely nice and chatty.  The young sons of one of them sits manning the plant stall at the entrance. It is such a sweet place. We will definitely go again on another such sunny day.

Cake: 4/5

Tea/ Coffee: 2/5  (there was not a lot of choice)

Ambience: 4/5

Service: 4/5

Decor: 3/5

Value: 3/5

Overall:  21/30

I usually don’t include random photo’s but… we found this lovely secret garden within Regents Park and I wanted to share it too.

The Orangery – Kensington Palace

June 19, 2011

Yesterday was the hen do of one of my dearest friends Katie. She had chosen to have a very special afternoon tea at the Orangery at Kensington Palace.

It is not possible to make reservations at the Orangery so we arrived early at 11.45 and asked them to prepare a table for ten, which they needed about ten minutes to do. By 12.00 the que was 20 people deep. While we waited we where entertained by the ‘Dashing Dogs Show’ which was taking place on the lawn outside. It was quite an amusing spectacle!

The building itself is a beautiful classical orangery with high ceilings and classical mouldings picked out in gold. The rest of the interior decoration is simple; white table cloths, metal garden chairs and a little orange tree on each table. The space is light and airy with a very slight musty garden smell.

All but one of us opted for the Champagne Afternoon Tea consisting of finger sandwiches, a scone and sweet cakes. The finger sandwiches came in four flavours: smoked salmon, ham and mustard, cheese and pickle, and the traditional cucumber.  They where delicate and nicely done. The orange scented scone attracted me to choose this tea. I thought that it was very nice, but the flavouring was much stronger than I had expected almost like marmalade.  The passion fruit and almond tart was definitely my favourite part of the tea. It was delicious and beautifully presented. The pastry was crumbly and the filling smooth. The a little layer of almond at the bottom added a pleasing crunch. I didn’t particularly like the little chocolate cake. I thought that the sponge was quite dense.

The Champagne and tea where both high quality and delicious.

I loved the old fashioned tea strainers. Each of us had a unique version which was a cute touch as the china itself was very plain.

The service was pretty good. The waiters were attentive and didn’t rush us at all. The overall atmosphere was relaxed and elegant not overly posh or formal.

I felt the whole experience was well worth the £21 which it cost. Although I might be a little bias due to the company and occasion.

Cake: 3/5

Tea/ Coffee: 4/5

Ambience: 4/5

Service: 3/5

Decor: 4/5

Value: 4/5

Overall:  22/30

Paul – The Kings Road, Chelsea

May 21, 2011

Paul’s is a popular chain of French pattiserie’s that exist all over London. I have visited several branches and find the quality of food to be very high. On this occasion I met a couple of girlfriends at Paul on the Kings Road in Chelsea.

I had a pistachio macaroon and an earl grey tea. The macaroon was exceptionally delicious with delicate and slightly perfumed flavour. It was firm on the outside, but it’s shell melted in the mouth. The inside was cool, soft and creamy. The tea was a very nice, your standard earl grey tea. My friends sampled the apple pie and a custard doughnut. They assured me that both were very good. Their cappuccino’s where strong with a rich flavour. Inspiring some appreciative foam art!

I would describe the atmosphere as civilised and pleasant.  The interior is light and French in style with murals and country-style wooden furniture. We had a very relaxed catch up and didn’t feel rushed or crowded.

The service is …self-service. You order and pay for your cakes and drinks at the counter, and then carry them to your table.  The staff at the counter where very nice and attentive. There where no tables of dirty cups and plates, which is always a good sign! Paul’s is not heading down the Starbucks route.

Price wise they are about average for London not cheap but reasonable for the quality. They also sell a selection of breads, croissants and pastries to take away.

As we where leaving we saw a certain disheveled Rolling Stone and his glamorous young girlfriend stopping in for a spot of tea and cake. Great people watching at Paul’s on the Kings Road!

Cake: 5/5

Tea/Coffee: 3/5

Ambience: 3/5

Service: 3/5

Decor: 3/5

Value: 4/5

Overall: 21/30

Pâtisserie Deux Amis – Bloomsbury

April 9, 2011

My mother took me for lunch at the petite but perfect Patisserie Deaux Amis in Bloomsbury. I don’t spend much time in this area so it was lovely to wander around and be introduced to a new place.

Patisserie Deaux Amis is a French style Patisserie serving tea, coffee, sandwiches, pastries and cakes. In my humble opinion it feels very authentic and the pastries are divine!

I ordered a pear tart and a coffee, whilst my Ma ordered a quiche with salad, and a cup of  tea. The coffee was very good and the tart was amazing! Perfect melt-in-the-mouth pastry. The filling was deliciously almondy and not overly sweet. It was topped with a perfectly cooked pear. Ma assures me her quiche was similarly delicious.


The price seemed very reasonable for the quality and the service was good.

Th interior is in a French country style with plated straw decorations and a few classical features. The little bowls of sugar cubes wrapped up like sweets were a cute touch; although, I thought the paper table cloths a bit odd. The room itself is small with intimate little tables. I think that the name Deux Amis (two friends) suits it very well. It is the perfect place to go for a romantic breakfast or coffee and a pastry with a friend.

They also have a selection of fresh bread, croissants and pastries to take away.

Cake: 5/5

Tea/Coffee: 4/5

Ambience: 5/5

Service: 4/5

Decor: 3/5

Value: 4/5

Overall: 24/30

Yumchaa – Camden

April 2, 2011

My Mother came to visit a couple of weekends ago. It was a sunny Sunday and the boys had deserted us for football and the pub. We girls decided to headed out for a potter around Primrose Hill followed by afternoon tea at Yumchaa in Camden.

Do not be confused by the Palmer’s sign: Yumchaa is located in the old Palmer’s pet shop building. I had been wanting to try out Yumchaa since stopping in for a delicious, but rushed, Panini last summer. I noted their extensive tea collection and the yummy looking cakes and started to plot my return.

Their collection of loose-leaf teas did not disappoint. We tried  ‘Walk in the Woods’  and ‘Earl Grey Blue’.  They were both deliciously delicate in flavour. We loved the whimsical names which describe the flavours with surprising accuracy.

On this occasion we sampled the lemon cake and chocolate brownies. The lemon cake was moist and zingy with a great texture.  The brownies passed the authenticity test (my mother is American). They were perfectly crumbly on top with a rich, gooey middle.

Yumchaa must be doing well as  is was absolutely packed. We had to hover for a good ten minutes before getting a seat. We felt a little squished in and had to talk quite loudly to be heard over the general noise. The place is buzzy and fun but not relaxing. The interior is nice with its whitewashed walls, eclectic wallpapers and vintage furniture. There are some large, comfy looking sofas near the entrance to the shop and wooden tables at the back. It is a little worn and it seems like some finishing touches have been left in-complete. We definitely enjoyed our tea and cake, but will probably avoid going again on a Sunday afternoon. I suspect that it is much calmer during the week, and that it would be a great place to hang out with your laptop or a book.

Cake: 4/5

Tea/Coffee: 5/5

Ambience: 2/5

Service: 3/5

Decor: 2.5/5

Value: 3/5

Overall: 19.5/30

Belleville Cafe – Westbourne Grove

February 3, 2011

I stumbled upon Belleville Cafe today whilst out for the afternoon with a friend. We were delighted to see that this cute French Cafe has popped up on Westbourne Grove.  Tempted in for our second tea of the afternoon we refrained from sampling the delicate French pastries, cakes and croissants which where on display. So this post will be incomplete, until we have the chance to return and sample more which, no doubt, will be very soon. I am keen to try the coffee and a croissant or two.

Feeling virtuous we ordered a pot of Suki Berry Tea, and a pot of Suki Earl Grey. We are already huge fans of Suki teas and order bags of it to drink at home. Needless to say, the tea was beautiful. The berry tea was full of flavour: not at all watery. The Earl Grey contained actual dried flowers and was delicious. The presentation was great, and we loved drinking out of dainty tea cups with saucers.

The Belleville Cafe aims to bring a little French elegance to London. The interior is mostly black and white. It has funky vintage feel. Striped wallpaper and traditional Toile de Jouy line the walls.  Traditional chairs have been up-cycled using black paint and new fabrics. The cafe has a stylish, refined air with a relaxing atmosphere. Staff where extremely friendly and attentive. I suspect this place will quickly establish itself as a firm favourite with locals.

The cafe takes up 2/3 of the shop space.  The other 1/3 contains a shop selling gorgeous French home accessories. There are cushions, plates, cups, soaps, French preserves and glass bathroom containers. We loved browsing whilst waiting for our teas.

UPDATE:

I have since sampled their lemon cake which was delicious.  It was moist, lemony and not overly sweet.  The portion size was small for the price. Overall, the prices for food are a little steep, but the drinks are very reasonable. I can now complete our usual scoring system.

Cake: 3/5

Tea/Coffee: 5/5

Ambience: 5/5

Service: 4/5

Decor: 5/5

Value: 3/5

Overall: 25/30

Lanka – Primrose Hill

December 10, 2010

It was the end of a long, grey, wintry week and we decided that we deserved a treat.  We wandered down to Lanka in Primrose Hill. Lanka is a Japanese run cake shop and tea salon. They serve an array of cakes, french pastries and croissants. There is a vast selection of gourmet teas and delicious Monmouth coffees. The cakes are baked by Masayuki Hara. Originally from Japan, he is a French cuisine chef who has worked at Michelin star restaurants.

Lanka is situated on Regents Park Road. The shop is small with a simple, clean, white interior. There are only 3 tables and a small bar  style counter; therefore, it is hard to get a seat at peak times. Although, they do everything to takeaway.

On this occasion we drank ‘Royal Delight’  tea and green tea with rose petals. We shared a white chocolate and green tea tart, and a green tea chocolate cake. The cake and tea where beautifully presented.  The glass tea pots had us “oohing” and “aahing” at the pretty swirling leaves.

The cakes were served on simple white plates with an artistic flourish of  sauce and cream.  This is not something we are used to seeing in a cake shop.  The green tea chocolate cake was amazing: probably one of the best cakes we’ve tasted in months. It had a sugary crust which melted in the mouth. It was moist and spongy in the middle almost like a mousse. It was chocolaty yet not overly sweet – perfection!  The white chocolate and green tea tart came with a zesty raspberry sauce and vanilla ice cream; definitely one for the sweet toothed.

The atmosphere was calm and uplifting. The staff were extremely polite. We particularly appreciated the classic ‘big band’ Christmas songs which where playing the background. Our one criticism is that it is quite pricy with cakes range from £2.50 -£ 4 and tea at around £2.20.  Nonetheless, we would happily while away another afternoon at Lanka, sipping tea and eating cake.

Cake: 4/5

Tea/Coffee: 5/5

Ambience: 4/5

Service: 4/5

Decor: 3/5

Value: 3/5

Overall: 23/30