My mother and I recently went for Afternoon Tea at The Lost Society. Located on the Wandsworth Road, this 16 century barn is transformed on weeknights and Sundays into a Prohibition Era 'Speakeasy' complete with a secret entry buzzer system. After being scrutinized through the viewing hatch, the heavy door will swing open to transport you back to the 1920s.
We arrived in time for our 3pm booking and were ushered through the quaint outdoor courtyard and into the warm belly of the barn by a braces-and-waistcoat clad waiter. Up a narrow wooden staircase we were greeted by the welcoming sounds of laughter and jovial conversation.
It was busier than I had been expecting; the atmosphere was buzzing and everyone was quite obviously enjoying themselves. While several groups of young women had really embraced the theme, and were sporting vintage dresses and hairpieces, there is no dresscode and some, including my mother, had turned up in casual attire. However, out of respect to our surroundings, and the occasion of afternoon tea, I was glad I had made some effort with my outfit and my mother did wish she had dressed up more than she had.
We were promptly seated at our table and presented with a gold envelope containing the cocktail list of 'forbidden drinks' and, my goodness, did they look good! We didn't sample any on this occasion, but saw several en route to other tables that I could quite happily have risked being locked away for! The table was small, but intimate, and perfect for being able to hear each other over the other clientele! The china was vintage and charmingly mismatched, a recurring theme throughout the decor of The Lost Society.
Our waiter was attentive without being overbearing, and refilled our crystal decanter (of water) and empty tea cups without needing to be asked. Our first course of finger sandwiches arrived swiftly, presented on a two-tiered stand, and honestly, they blew me away. The bread was fresh and soft, and the fillings ranged from perfectly seasoned egg mayonnaise, through smoked salmon with a whipped horseradish cream, to chicken breast with hummus and olive. I could have happily devoured a second helping, but unfortunately this wasn't the Ritz, and they didn't offer us refills.
Once we had all but licked the stand clean (including the delicate edible flowers), it was whisked away to be restocked with a myriad of mini desserts: Eton Mess, brownies, scones with clotted cream and jam, and cupcakes with chocolate and pistachio frosting. All were divine and needless to say, after all that, we were pleased we'd only had the one helping of sandwiches. After finishing off the last of my mother's cupcake (she didn't want it, honestly!) I was well and truly defeated, but deliciously satisfied.
Best bits: The quality and freshness of the food, the friendly and attentive service, and the gorgeous surroundings.
Possible drawbacks: Tea is not loose-leaf and you must either re-use the same tea-bag or pay for another one. The selection isn't huge, but is interesting nonetheless.
Also, halfway through our tea, a hirsute older gentleman drinking a strawberry dacquiri set up his guitar and amps just behind our table and began to play decidedly un 20s music. It wasn't unpleasant, just seemed out of place, and he was really rather close
Summary: A wonderful, out of the ordinary way to spend an afternoon, which could easily turn into an evening if those cocktails get involved... Perfect for a catch-up with friends, or as treat for someone special. Both of us loved every minute, and every morsel, and would go back in a flash.