We hope you're all keeping safe and well in these challenging times. Covid-19 has certainly changed the world we knew at the beginning of 2020, as we've all had to press pause on life in order to slow the spread. In England we are slowly emerging from a lockdown state - taking our first tentative steps towards a normal existence. There are so many things I've missed and I have wondered what life would be like after lockdown - would we enjoy the things we did before with social distancing and face coverings in place.
As I'm writing this, in England we are now being encouraged to start doing the things we enjoyed before....we just have to make sure we take the appropriate precautions and are sensible about what we do. Shops and restaurants are starting to open up again, we can go and have our hair cut (if you can get an appointment) and non-essential travel on public transport is permitted again. Lorna and I were invited to be guests at The Ritz in London in their reopening week, after three months of being closed to the public. The Ritz are offering afternoon tea initially (their other restaurants will open in the following weeks). There are temperature checks on the way in, social distancing inside (and therefore less seats available) and the staff are all wearing facial coverings - we wondered whether any of these measures would have an impact on the afternoon tea experience.
We headed into London wearing our face masks, although we didn't travel on the tube we both felt ok about travelling on the trains. Generally people followed social distancing and kept their masks on while on the train. London itself was much quieter than we had ever experienced before, but I'll admit that people weren't so good at keeping the distance on the main streets - this is when it's good to know your way around the quieter back streets.
On arrival at The Ritz hand sanitiser was available and we greeted by a member of staff who took our temperatures - on passing this test we were allowed into the main hotel and shown to our seats in the legendary Palm Court. Tables were arranged further apart from each other than normal and all staff had face masks on, the distance meant we felt comfortable in taking our face masks off. From this point the afternoon tea experience felt pretty normal, its amazing how quickly you get used to people wearing masks as they ask for your tea preference and dietary requirements.
The afternoon tea stand is elegant, containing a selection of finger sandwiches and patisserie treats. We are told that scones, cream and jam will be brought out later.
The sandwich selection was very traditional, but varied, it included:
Ham and mustard
Cheese and chutney
Cucumber and cream cheese
Chicken and tarragon mayonnaise
Egg salad on a Brioche roll
The sandwiches were dainty - the perfect nibbling size, with no crust in sight! The bread was fresh, fillings well balanced and choice varied. My favourite was the cheese and chutney, which came on a tomato bread but the egg salad was a strong contender as well, the egg was paired with chopped shallots and watercress and served on a brioche roll.
We were offered additional sandwiches and then the warm scones were served, along with clotted cream and strawberry preserve. We had both plain and fruited scones....
As you can see the fruited scones were packed full of sultanas....nothing worse than a fruit scone where you have to search for the fruit! The scones were light and fluffy in texture, the perfect base for the clotted cream and strawberry preserve.
We made our way to the top of the cake stand to find three delicacies each ....
Each one was a good size and looked beautiful (almost too good to eat!). After so many treats already it was a relief that there were only three sweet items to sample. Possibly a bizarre thing for a cake lover to say, but there is nothing worse than being overwhelmed when you get to the cakes after enjoying sandwiches and scones.
The pastry items were all well executed, with flavours well balanced.
Our selection included a chocolate mousse so light it just disappeared as you ate it, a beautiful cheesecake with blueberries and the caramel puff of wonderment! The flavours worked well in each pastry, but also complimented each other as you enjoyed this course of afternoon tea.
And just when we thought it was all over we were offered cake from the cake trolley, both Lorna and I opted for the Victoria sponge....
The sponge was light and lemony, complimented with strawberry preserve and fresh cream. It was probably one of the best Victoria Sponge's that I've had the pleasure of encountering!
Service throughout our whole experience was attentive and friendly, with waiters introducing themselves as they brought us the various courses. We didn't feel uncomfortable at any point, as the appropriate safety measures were adhered too, but didn't negatively impact our experience.
I'd like to thank The Ritz for hosting us as their guests for this gifted experience. Please note that our guest status has not effected our thoughts on the afternoon tea and all opinions expressed are our own.
If you are thinking about enjoying an afternoon tea, but are worried about safety measures I would encourage you to speak to the establishment where you would like to visit. Hotels, restaurants, cafes and tearooms are really looking forward to serving afternoon tea again and will no doubt be doing everything to try and make visits as comfortable as possible.
For more information about The Ritz London please visit their website.
Thank you for popping by today - if you've had an afternoon tea experience we'd love to hear all about it. Please leave us a comment!
Rachel & Lorna