Saturday 3rd September, a blissfully sunny afternoon, was the date of our very first Brunch Club meeting. Whoopee! And as Ladies Wot LBrunch, we decided to go straight to the top!
A lovely colleague of mine recently told me that she held her hen celebration at St. James’s Restaurant and described it as a lovely experience. I’d heard about Fortnum & Mason’s Afternoon Tea service and have seen millions of people carrying the famous mint green bags about town. So I googled Fortnum & Mason to see what it was all about…
Booking a table at St James’s Restaurant, the venue for Fortnum & Mason Afternoon Tea, was a straight-forward procedure. However, I should highlight that I booked two weeks ahead of our proposed Brunch Club meeting. The website layout was clear and simple to navigate and once I decided which restaurant I wanted to visit, my table was reserved in a matter of minutes. The reservation system is managed by OpenTable, which also manages bookings for several high end restaurants. For Afternoon Tea at St James’s Restaurant, it is recommended that you book at least one day in advance for weekday visits and 2-3 weeks in advance for Saturdays.
I was able to book a table (bookings can be made for up to 20 people) and received confirmation immediately.
As Ladies Wot LBrunch, we see a lot and experience even more. And so as a group of intelligent, funny and borderline eccentric chicas, we were bound to have some interesting conversation. In addition to general affairs, fundraising events and recent radical terrorist activity, there was a lot of thought provoking discussion. I’ll share some of the afternoon’s hot topics:
Babies getting married: At this stage in life, everyone knows someone getting married and each person present on Saturday had dropped money on a wedding gift list within the last 12 months. The lowering age of the beaming brides in question was common in all cases. Now, before I continue, I must state that none of us have a problem with younger ladies tying the knot. There is nothing wrong with a young, confident woman defining the route in life that she wants to follow. In fact, it must be celebrated. However, when young girls, who haven’t even decided if they want to pluck, wax or thread their eyebrows, are now walking down the aisle, signing over 50% control of their lives to men whom they can’t even be 100% truthful with, then there is a problem. There is no rush, ovarian eggs are renewed on a monthly basis, so you won’t run out I assure you! And this imaginary woman-in-her-thirties expiration date MUST DIE!
Men who beat their wives: Without going into any such detail, we all agreed that these men are nincompoops. Only a fool would bring curses on himself by laying his sullied hands on a woman, talk less his own wife. DUMMIES!
Men who are a little bit too nice: More often than not, women in the dating game come across these males, and a few examples were shared across the table during our conversation. From men who call/text/ping all-the-tiiiiiiime (calling is not bad, but haba everything in moderation!), to others who refer to themselves as very unfortunate female possessions (?!*&#?) the general (but not absolute) consensus was that rough and ready men just have a je ne sais quoi which keeps us interested…
Where do I begin with the food?!?! It was sumptuous from start to finish! Dammmn! Between us, we ordered the Afternoon and High Tea menus which included of a selection of canapés, followed by more scones, biscuits, madeleines, tea cakes and tea blends than any of us could finish.
After the complimentary amuse-bouche which comprised of a mini egg and caramelised onion tartlet, mini sausage roll slice and prawn bruschetta, I tucked into a crab and saffron tart with side salad. I kid you not, it was extraordinary! The crab was full of flavour, fresh and perfectly cooked, without detracting from the saffron or the expertly browned short crust pastry which encased the fragrant freshwater experience. Though I did not have any myself, I was told that the selection of sandwiches were also delicious.
What was to follow was a sweet-tooth’s dream: plain and fruit scones, fruit preserves, clotted cream, apricot and ginger cake, raspberry jam biscuits (which had a distinctly home baked flavour) and madeleines. Yum, yum and YUM! Favourites of the day were the classic scones with clotted cream and strawberry preserve – sexy, sweet and moist – this is not a porno, don’t worry. They were just very good!
As if that wasn’t enough, we were then presented with a selection of afternoon tea cakes. The favourites were the orange macaroon, which was explicitly described as orgasmic; the raspberry pavlova, again orgasmic (Ooh La La Vasquez); and the coconut crème and lime jelly cake. You may think the descriptions sound a little embellished, but it was one of those oral moments that you just have to experience for yourself.
The wide variety of tea blends, to compliment the food, was pretty special too. I went for the house Fortmason aromatic tea, which lived up to its name and packed a pleasant punch on my taste buds. The peach and strawberry teas also went down a treat, definitely head and shoulders above your everyday Twinings blend.
If we entered the restaurant feeling like common folk, we certainly left feeling like top class babettes. There was an attention to detail which you don’t find in just any old place. The immaculately dressed and genuinely pleasant waiters, who had each perfected the art of conversation, engaged with us just enough and yet not too much. The only downer was when we asked for the bill, which took a lot longer than necessary to come out. For some reason, no one wanted us to pay and leave. They must have wanted to dwell in the presence of Queens OOOBVIOUSLY!
The moment I received the booking reminder a few days before our planned Afternoon Tea, I knew it was going to be special -
“Please note that we do not have an enforced dress code, however, we kindly request that both sexes lean more toward elegance.”
I loved reading it then and I still love reading it now. The dress code was befitting for such a gorgeously assembled restaurant. From the plush leather sofas which welcomed effervescent ladies and dapper gentlemen to the twinkle-fingered pianist who soothed cochleae near and far with melodious compositions. The pre-prepared mint green take away boxes for the many cakes we were bound not to finish were a cleverly thought out added bonus. The quirky ladies’ powder rooms with full length mirrors (we all need them!) were also highly appreciated.
It was every bit what High Tea should be – “a high class, social experience.”