Any one who is in a long term relationship knows you can get stuck in a bit of a dating rut. Weekends become housework and DIY time and who needs to leave the house once they have Netflix! You find your favourite restaurants and bars and tend to stick with what you know, which is why when two of my friends told us about ‘alphabet dating’ my husband and I decided to give it a go. The premise is quite simple you take it in turns picking a date, working your way through the alphabet and planning a date around your letter.
Neil decided to start (well he lost rock, paper, scissors) so today was my surprise ‘A’ date. He told me to dress smartly but nothing else. We headed into London and I must admit to being incredibly thick and not guessing the date. I guessed Ascot, abseiling (the dress smart could have been a bluff!) and everything but the real date – afternoon tea. It wasn’t until we were actually outside the hotel I realised how high he had set the bar on our first date. Not just afternoon tea but afternoon tea at The Ritz!
Inside The Ritz is the epitome of opulence. The decorations are very lavish with lots of fresh flowers and chandeliers everywhere. Dress code is very strict; men have to wear ties (I saw a bloke get chucked out for not wearing one), which adds to the feeling of glamour. Afternoon tea is served in the Palm Court. It is a beautiful room with large birdcage chandeliers, gold statues and lots of floral displays. We also had a harpist play in the background, which is a lovely touch. Although it’s a posh, formal setting the atmosphere is very relaxed with a nice level of chatting and I felt very comfortable and couldn’t wait to get stuck into the cakes!
We had a glass of pink champagne to start as its Valentines weekend then had a look at the tea menu. There is a large selection of loose-leaf teas to choose from and after telling the waiter I needed longer to decided I didn’t think I could really just go for standard English. I went for Lapsong Souchong Imperiale which is a large black leaf tea from Fujian, China. It is smoked over pine fires to give a smoky taste. I am so glad I did as I absolutely loved this tea and I’m going to have to buy some! Tea is served in traditional silver pots with tea strainers and pretty china cups.
The afternoon tea itself consists of sandwiches, fresh scones with strawberry jam and cream (or cream and jam but I’m not about to wade into that argument) as well as an assortment of pastries and cakes. The sandwiches and scones were lovely but nothing out of the ordinary. The pastries were delicious and some of the nicest I’ve ever had! I had an amazing vanilla slice and banana mousse cake.
The vanilla slice was perfect not to sweet with flaky pastry. The banana mousse cake looked gorgeous and tasted even better. A biscuit base with chocolate mousse centre surrounded by banana mousse, which was light and full of banana flavour without tasting synthetic at all.
It really was an unforgettable afternoon. Yes it is very expensive but you are paying to experience not just the food but also the ambience and surrounding of one of London’s most famous hotels. It is by far the nicest afternoon tea I have ever had and the service is impeccable. The staff are incredibly attentive without being intrusive and everything is refilled if you ask. You do feel transported to a more glamorous era (I expected to see Poirot enjoying a scone) and definitely something to add to the bucket list!