Afternoon tea usually feels likes just the ticket for a celebration meal – big birthdays, civilised pre-wedding gatherings or anniversaries, and for that reason schlepping into central London doesn’t seem like much of a problem.
What has always struck me as a bit of an issue is the hefty price tag that sandwiches and cakes can attract, with the most well-known tea experiences now stretching upwards of £60-70.
While I appreciate grand surroundings and string quartets are used as a justification, I’m not entirely comfortable with the outlay, not to mention the fact that afternoon tea, traditionally 3pm to 5pm, has become a money-making endeavour for many of the big hotels.
Waiting lists are now months long, unless you are happy with a 7pm slot, which last time I looked was dinner time, and not tea.
With these factors in mind, I was only too pleased to hear that the Ivy Café in Blackheath was open and that afternoon tea is served in the traditional slot.
I booked three of us for the Champagne Tea at £27.50, including a selection of sweet treats, savouries, a glass of fizz and tea or coffee.
The delicate proportions of the items were deceiving, and I must admit at first glance to being a little underwhelmed at my personal haul (three sandwiches, three tiny cakes and a scone).
My disappointment was born out of my savoury palate and preference for extra sandwiches over the sweet stuff. Thankfully, my mother-in-law was with me and we did a straight swap.
The sandwich selection was innovative and although I loved it, I’m unsure whether the truffled chicken brioche chicken roll would be to everyone’s taste – it packed a fragrant punch, tempered a little by the sweet notes of the bun. Marinated cucumber and dill finger sandwich was a definite crowd-pleaser and smoked salmon on gluten-free dark rye with cream cheese and chives brought a Scandinavian twist to these very English proceedings. The ubiquitous scones didn’t disappoint, served with a generous helping of Cornish clotted cream and strawberry preserve, and those with a sweet tooth were surely satisfied by raspberry cheesecake, chocolate and salted caramel mousse and crème brûlée doughnut.
A deceptively good spread and well worth the cost. In fact, if you leave out the Champagne, afternoon tea, including hot drinks, is just £19.75.
Paloma was a guest of the Ivy Café in Blackheath. 43-45 Montpelier Vale, Blackheath, SE3 0TJ. Call 020 3940 1010
The Ivy Cafe in Blackheath Pictures: Paul Winch-Furness
Please support your local paper by making a donation
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.