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Food at Afternoon Tea

Hello all,
I've started researching Afternoon Tea today for our trip to London in the spring. I think I've learned that if we are not going to a fancy restaurant for tea, there's no need to dress up. So that answered my first question (my husband would never agree to that. :( ) My other concern/question is this: I've looked at 10-20 menus today and I'm finding that most Afternoon Teas are served with sandwiches that have salmon and cucumber in them. We don't like either. So I'm wondering, should we just find a restaurant that has sandwiches we like on the menu, OR, is it silly to go somewhere that has a cream tea and then just pay al a carte for pastries in addition to the scones? One restaurant, Le Chandelier, had delicious sounding sandwiches on their menu (Croque Monsieur). Or does anyone have a specific place that they went that served something other than salmon and/or cucumber sandwiches? Any advice for someone who knew nothing about Tea until today is much appreciated!

Posted by
135 posts

In the States, we tell the server what sandwiches we don't want and they give us double of something else. Haven't needed to do it in the UK.

Debbie
Florida

Posted by
2713 posts

1.The Goring Hotel. They will bring you a three level display of sweet treats and scones. Normally, the lower level is sandwiches; you could ask that they bring more sweets instead, or tell them what fillings you'd like in the sandwiches instead of the nasty cucumbers or salmon.

2.The Delaunay, or 3.The Savoy. They will also make substitutions as you like. Know that all these places require reservations, and proper dress, at least dressy jeans and a nice sweater.

Also, you could go back through previous pages here on the "To The North" section, and scan the titles of threads for more suggestions on tea in London, given weeks or months ago. Then search out the reviews on Trip Advisor. Currently, the Search for previous "tea" threads on this site may or may not work, but you can go back through previous pages easily.

If you just want tea and cupcakes, avoiding the cucumber and salmon sandwiches altogether, try Primrose Bakery, on Tavistock, near Covent Garden.

Posted by
932 posts

Thank you, Rebecca! I actually went through about 10 pages of To the North and did a search of the site and didn't find anything that talked about specific items on the tea menus and whether you could sub, etc. I guess when I call to make a reservation I can ask them about subbing certain items. I definitely want scones and clotted cream but want to try other yummy treats along with it. My husband will not dress up, so I have to find something that is ok in whatever we may be wearing that day. I will definitely check out the menus for the places that you have mentioned. Thanks again!

Posted by
2713 posts

Amy, you are welcome. A more casual location is the Cafe in the British Museum. They serve a good afternoon tea with scones, sandwiches, and sweets. Convenient, since you may already intend to go to the museum.

Another casual place for afternoon tea is Bea's of Bloomsbury, not far from St. Paul's Cathedral. They also serve all kinds of sandwiches and salads; good lunch place if you are in the area visiting St. Paul's.

These two places are less pricey than some of the hotel teas.

Posted by
932 posts

Bea's is one of the ones that I saved as a favorite! It was featured on a Travel Channel show about eating in London and looked great. I'm looking to keep it under 20 pounds per person, and there is a lot to choose from in that price range. I'm already hungry..... ;)

Posted by
2634 posts

Another great place to have afternoon tea is The Orangery at Kensington Palace, besides have a great tea it is really pretty.

Posted by
8293 posts

The OP's concern the way I read it is not where to have afternoon tea, but how to avoid the ever-popular cucumber and/or salmon sandwiches.

Posted by
2713 posts

You are right, Norma. I hope that she can use the website "afternoon tea" that I gave to access the websites of each hotel or tearoom she might be interested in, and send them an email to ask if they serve these sandwiches/would make a substitution. The website I gave gives a link to each of the establishments it lists, which I hope will be helpful to her.

Posted by
222 posts

I went to the Orangery near Kensington Palace three months ago. According to Rick Steves, reservations were not required, but when I got there I was told they were required. Didn't stay for tea because it would have been a half-hour wait, so I can't comment on what their tea is like. It was in the expensive range, however.

Posted by
14408 posts

The original Bea's of Bloomsbury is in Bloomsbury - about a 10 minute walk from the British Museum. When I was last there a couple of years ago, they only did a "savory" tea on weekends - no cucumbers. During the week it was just a sweet tea - the best scones I've had, and lots of little cakes, then a signature cupcake (American cupcake with lots of buttercream frosting).

My understanding is that a Cream Tea is scones and lots of cakes and other sweets, in other words, Afternoon Tea minus the savory sandwiches.

In some of the places I've had tea, the policy was "no substitutions" except if you requested vegetarian, always something with cucumbers, either way.

Posted by
932 posts

Here I am! Rebecca, I LOVE that website! I found a lot of great options. I love that you can look by neighborhood! Yeah, there are a million places to have tea, so I don't necessarily need recommendations for specific places. Unless someone knows of a place that doesn't have salmon or cucumber. ;) But really, it would be great to find a place that has sandwiches that we would like. Nothing better than some salty with the sweets! Another option that I just found was that the UK/Ireland has Groupon! I signed up for those and a few times a week, they are selling Groupons for afternoon tea. It's too early to buy because the current ones are expiring before our trip, but it will be a nice option if I find a Groupon for a place that has decent Tripadvisor ratings (most of the ones I've seen so far have horrid ratings!) and get more bang for our buck!