the odd sensation of feeling deliciously full and somehow still elegant and refined
We’d been counting down the days for months. I made the reservation in March (yes, March!) when I (foolishly, as it turns out) called to see about making a reservation for my birthday (in April). You must book well in advance, the website says. This is not a suggestion.
He doesn’t really like tea (or coffee, for that matter), but the pictures Londonista took piqued his interest, and I think Tall Guy was excited about Sunday as I was (excited in a calm, cool, and collected manner, of course, but excited nonetheless).
We arrived at the hotel promptly at 3:30, on empty stomachs. “Trust me,” I said to Tall Guy the day before, “you’ll want to be hungry”.
We were seated in a private corner of the lovely foyer. A piano-cello duo were playing a jazzy version of “Tea for two” (of course). The décor, down to the last detail, was perfect. Our coats were whisked away and we were left to drink in the scenery and peruse the lengthy tea menu. I chose Pearl Jasmine. The waitress chose for Tall Guy (I had forbidden him from asking for a diet coke); Claridge’s perfumed afternoon tea, a light, fruity and aromatic tea, just right for someone who, well, doesn’t really like tea. One lump of sugar later and Tall Guy was sipping like an old pro, pinkie finger fully extended. (Not really. But he did say it “wasn’t bad”. High praise from a Spaniard.)
Next came a selection of dainty sandwiches – cucumber and cream cheese, egg mayonnaise, roast chicken, ham, and smoked salmon. Tall Guy raised his eyebrow at me, not at all convinced that arriving on an empty stomach had been a good idea after all. “Wait and see”, was all I said. We ate them. The waitress came back with a refill. Tall Guy’s eyebrow came back down to earth. The waitress came back with a refill of our favourites. Tall Guy smiled.
And then came scones and desserts. I love scones. Tall Guy thinks they’d be better left to the breakfast table. Perfect. More cream for me!
The desserts were more convincing. Tall Guy's favourite was a banana-nutella-red-velvet tart (yep, that’s a thing), topped with gold hazelnuts. So nice, he ate it twice. My favourite was a lemon-lavender cake. It was so dreamy, I had to eat a second one to make sure it was real. Light and fluffy but not dry, iced but not smothered, flavourful but not overpoweringly sweet. It was lemon-lavender perfection.
In the context of Claridges, it is impossible to overuse “lovely”: The food was lovely. The service was lovely. The live music was lovely. Even the loos were lovely (I’m sure Tall Guy won’t mind when I paint a tromp l’oeil with white peacocks on our bathroom wall).
In short, (and in tall), everything really was just lovely.