Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tea at The Wolsley, 5th November Part 2

So, on to the tea. We realised we were actually going to be earlier than our half four reservations and called ahead to see if we could be accommodated. They said they would do their best ans when we were shown through the heavy black curtains, feeling ever so exclusive as we did, we didn't have to wait more than a few minutes before we were shown to a table right in the middle of all the hustle and bustle. We had chosen The Wolsley because it's a bit of a landmark destination and sounds quite posh but in actual fact the prices were very reasonable and it didn't sound too overwhelmingly fancy in its attitude. I think it was a very good choice. It was definitely a lot buzzier than we were expecting - not all prim and proper and hushed. Although it was rather grand, with high ceilings and large lanternesque light fittings, marble floors and dim lighting. 

We had made an effort to look nice but it wasn't a case of designer-wear and tails and I think we fit with the general attire of the crowd. It wasn't at all intimidating, but that didn't mean that the service was less than you'd expect from a good restaurant. The waiters were very attentive (almost too attentive at one point - trying to whip away my hot chocolate before I had finished), constantly topping up our glasses of water whenever they fell below some predesignated level, which roughly corresponded to taking about three gulps.

The food was very traditional, but this was another reason we chose it, so it was exactly what we wanted. We had four afternoon teas. They came with five finger sandwiches each - chicken and tarragon, smoked salmon, celery and cream cheese, cucumber and egg and cress. You also got two scones each - these were delicious - they seemed light and fluffy but then you realise why you are so full after a cream tea as they sit quite heavily on you. They had raisins in them as you would expect, but they weren't crammed with them - which for me was a plus because I don't like raisins and had to pick them out. They were accompanied by, of course, clotted cream and jam. And they didn't skimp on either. There was still quite a bit left over once we were done with the scones.

And on to the pastries. There were six individual kinds to share between the two of you: a coffee eclair, a cheesecake, chocolate mousse cake, redcurrant tart, battenburg and a pistachio macaroon. It couldn't have worked out better for our little group as even though we all had different tastes, they didn't seem to overlap too much, so no one was deprived of the one pastry they really wanted. For example, I had the pistachio macaroon, which Stephen's stepfather didn't want, but he really wanted the battenburg and I hate marzipan. By the end of it we were absolutely stuffed and only two morsels remained - one of the cheesecakes and one coffee eclair. The waiter came by to tidy away the last remaining things and spied we hadn't finished everything off. He refused to clear away the cheesecake, claiming it absolutely must be tasted. Stephen and I hadn't had any of the other one, so we faux grudgingly obliged to share it and I'm very glad I did - it tasted like a proper New York cheesecake: deliciously creamy. It probably was the best dessert on there. Don't get me wrong, the others were good too.

I should also mention the tea. Unfortunately I don't like tea so I can't really comment on anything other than its presentation. It came in a very impressive urn, accompanied by a tea strainer which none of us knew how to use. After some observation of the other patrons, we realised that you had to perform a manoeuvre where you tilted it and hung it on the side of your cup, then poured the tea through it. So now you know.

I did enjoy the experience and I think it was worth doing just to say you've had Tea at The Wolsley. Everything was perfectly tasty. But to be honest, if I were going to have a Tea again and not for any particular special reason - I'd go back to Bea's of Bloomsbury's. We had an excellent afternoon tea there one New Year's Eve, for less than the price of The Wolsley but just as filling, and with slightly more interesting selections.

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