If visiting Highgate Cemetery is probably not what most people would think of as a birthday treat, then afternoon tea might be and so that’s exactly what I spent a Sunday afternoon doing with my mum the other weekend. While thousands of others were running around the streets of London for the Marathon we headed over to The Savoy for afternoon tea in The Thames Foyer, a gorgeous light-filled space containing a gazebo and tiered centrepiece of hydrangeas and roses.
We were led across to a table in the gazebo where we had a great view of the room (we love a bit of people watching) and we were handed menus from which to select our tea – a traditional high tea (savoury) or traditional afternoon tea (sweet) and also our tea selection. Both of us having a sweet tooth, we went with the traditional afternoon tea and chose The Savoy Afternoon Tea Blend to accompany it.
Our cake plate stand quickly arrived loaded up with sandwiches and scones. Our sandwiches were an assortment including ham and mustard, coronation chicken, smoked salmon, egg and cress and mozzarella and tomato on pesto bread. Although we were told that the sandwiches were unlimited and we could have more if we wanted, we knew that with afternoon tea the key is pacing – there’s always so much more food to come.
The scones were both plain and raisin and came accompanied by both clotted cream, strawberry jam and, slightly more unusually, lemon curd.
Cream first, jam second!
Unlike many afternoon teas when one layer of the cake stand is devoted to tiny pastries, at The Savoy they come over with a whole platter of beautiful little morsels from which you can select as many as you like to try. We started with three each – a blackberry mousse, a strawberry macaron and a passionfruit eclair. We both agreed that the eclair was our favourite, although they were all delicious.
Part way through dinner a pianist had struck up in the corner of the room and was playing a variety of tunes, in particular a nod to Bowie’s recent death with a few of his songs, including one of my favourites (from Labyrinth) As the World Falls Down. It was lovely.
At the time I booked I noted that we were going for my mum’s birthday and asked whether they might be able to stick a candle in something and when we arrived our waitress had checked casually whether we were there to celebrate something special, at which point my mum told her it was for both of our birthdays, so when the pianist struck up with happy birthdays and cake plates and candles came out, ours came with two. A lovely touch, thanks Savoy.
As if that wasn’t enough cake, we still had more to come – a choice of either a Victoria Sponge cake or a chocolate cake. As our little birthday cakes had been chocolate we went with the Victoria Sponge. Light, fluffy and topped with fresh cream and a strawberry. Exactly what we needed as a dessert course.
We waddled out of The Savoy onto the street and back to Temple tube station where the London Marathon runners were still going. I almost felt guilty that they were running for hours for charity and we were just eating cake, but I was mostly too full of good food to care.
London is full of afternoon tea options and it’s difficult to know which one to choose for a special occasion, afternoon tea at the Savoy is fantastic and I’ll definitely return at some point, now, what’s my next excuse for visiting?