Bea’s of Bloomsbury offers an affordable and inventive alternative to the afternoon teas offered at London’s grand hotels. Bea’s has no intention of competing in terms of glamour or luxury, instead they focus on the food and this, on my visit, was all superb.
The room itself is basic, functional and on the dinky side - so booking is necessary if you intend to opt for afternoon tea. Half the people present seemed to have gone down this route, groups of girls mainly though not exclusively; there were a lot of cooing and ooh-ing as tottering towers of cakes floated past. The basic sweet tea costs £9.90 which gets you two plump scones, a cupcake apiece and an assortment of mini brownies, blondies and meringues as well as a pot of tea of your choice. Apparently one can add sandwiches to the mix on weekends but, as it was, this was ample food for two.
The actress and I order a pot of jasmine tea and waited with a measure of anticipation for the edibles to arrive. Visually Bea’s teas do not disappoint and we spent a few moments in mute awe, dithering over where to begin. We decided to start with the scones. Oh, such scones. Such scones as dreams are made of. These were light and crumbly and golden. For me it has to be clotted cream first and then a spreading of jam, but not too much of either as these scones deserved to shine. The actress, who was fortunate enough to have afternoon tea at the Ritz earlier in the year, was just as smitten and said these scones pipped their glitzier sisters – and I bet the Ritz don’t serve theirs on a cake stand topped with a pair of kissing bunnies either.
Sated with scones we moved on to the baby brownies and blondies. The former were dense and dark, the latter were fine – but then blondies are always a bit of a let down purely by virtue of their not being brownies. The tiny blobs of meringues were spot on, chewy and light.
All this was mere build up to those two cupcakes. The Lamington cupcake had a decent, moist chocolate base topped with a thin layer of chocolate cream icing and a sprinkling of desiccated coconut, but the raspberry cupcake was my favourite of the two. It was a pity to dissect this one as it looked so very pretty and we duly cooed over it for a few seconds before setting about it with our knives. The cake base again was lovely and light and the pink buttercream topping tasted of raspberry. So often cupcakes fail to deliver, but these had substance as well as style on their side.
Full as we were, we still were able to gawp at the teas winging their way to others even , at one point, suffering from a bout of mild cupcake envy (“look, look, I’m sure they’ve got a red velvet!”)
The staff were friendly and the whole experience was pleasant and memorable. A true treat.
Bea's of Bloomsbury, 44 Theobald's Road, London WC1X 8NW 020 7242 8330
5 hours ago