Afternoon tea is a long standing British custom which centres around our nation's love of tea. It used to be associated with the past and the upper classes, but now it is enjoying a come back thanks to trends like vintage clothing, baking and period dramas. I've never been for afternoon tea before, mostly because I actually don't drink tea (sorry fellow Britains!) but I wasn't about to let that stand in my way when cakes were involved! I decided to take some friends that were visiting me for the weekend to the Richmond Tea Rooms for a special lunch.
The decor of the Richmond Tea Rooms is inspired by both Alice In Wonderland and Tim Burton. Features such as the red and black diamond painted wall, 'eat me' and 'drink me' signs and the antique till really give the tea rooms quirkiness and character. There is also an indoor conservatory and a canopied area, in which a 'Mad Hatter's' tea party was going on while I was there. You can book tables at the tea rooms, but on Saturdays they only take bookings for groups of 8 or more. A wait for a table in the tea rooms can be around an hour. So me and my two friends sat in The Lodge, which adjoins the tea rooms and serves as a cocktail lounge in the evenings. The decor in The Lodge included tartan wallpaper and chandeliers made from antlers, and it still had the pretty vintage feel we had hoped for.
I decided to go for the Queen's Tea which included finger sandwiches, a large scone with jam and clotted cream, a selection of cakes and pastries, and a tea of your choice (there are 16 teas on the menu) for £18. I swapped my tea for apple juice and we also shared a bottle of pink bubbly! One of my friends also went for the Queen's Tea, and the other chose the Hatter's Tea, which is the same but without the cakes.
The food was stunning and when it arrived I was so excited. I also was slightly overwhelmed as there was so much of it! I think a Queen's Tea could be shared between two people easily. I only ate half my cakes and scone, I took the rest home and enjoyed them later.
Our finger sandwiches were filled with cream cheese and cucumber, ham and tomato, beef and horseradish, and egg mayonnaise. The scones came with clotted cream, which was very buttery, and a little pot of raspberry jam. The cakes we got were a mini banoffee pie, summer fruit jelly with fresh cream, bakewell tart and a carrot and walnut cake. I didn't know if you could choose the cakes, I saw another table as I walked out with vanilla slices and I was a bit jealous!
The absolute star of the cakes for me was the banoffee pie (below) it was perfect in every way. Light smooth texture, and just the right amount of banana and toffee flavours. I was in heaven eating this!
I liked the summer fruit jelly, but found it very difficult to eat. The mini jar it came in was incredibly cute, but impossible to eat from. I would have preferred it served in something else. The almond frangipane of the bakewell tart was lovely and light, I had it at home the next day with ice cream. My only criticism was that it didn't have enough jam. The scone was delicious and perfectly baked, I really enjoyed it with the jam and cream.
The pink bubbly was also absolutely delicious too! Here I am enjoying a glass.
As well as afternoon tea, Richmond Tea Rooms also offer a selection of light lunches, and an extensive selection of cakes. The food is excellent quality and combined with the atmosphere it is the perfect place for an afternoon tea. I had a lovely time here and it felt really special. This would be a great place for a celebration, I'd like to go back and see what the cocktail lounge is like in the evenings. We also spotted Jason Orange from Take That enjoying a cup of tea while we were there!
NB. All opinions are my own, I decided to go to the Richmond Tea Rooms and was not invited there to review it.