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The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon

Home > London > Afternoon Tea | Cafes | Food and Wine | High Tea | Restaurants
by Sebastian Rydberg (subscribe)
Heavily caffeinated Viking.
Published October 1st 2012
Afternoon Tea so cracking that Lady Grantham would approve
Elegant and classy, the new Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon offers visitors of the esteemed department store a slice of the good life. That is, unless you've got bugger all in your wallet, in which case you should leg it.

The Salon was formerly St James's Restaurant until Her Majesty the Queen and Their Royal Highnesses the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge opened it early 2012. Now if the last sentence wasn't a royal mouthful enough for you, I insist that you go for the afternoon champagne tea. You really can't beat getting a bit tipsy before enjoying tea (not that the champagne comes by the bucket load).
My rapidly depleting glass of champagne

Upon entering the Salon (I keep wanting to write Saloon), piano tunes either welcome you or give you second thoughts, depending on the quality of elevator music. After you're seated by a cajoling butler-type in the booths with the whiter-than-white table cloths, he hands you the menu of teas.

Calling it a tea menu does do the place injustice. It's more like a tea compendium. A bible for the beloved dried leaves. Each tea sort comes with a delightful little history lesson. I felt compelled to read each and every one and had to tell the butler, sorry, but this menu is so utterly intriguing that I'll be a while yet. Must've been there for hours. As if the writing alone didn't wet my appetite, the butler then arrived with an assortment of teas for tasting. Just tell me I'm indecisive already!

The demonstration involved three or four teas: one black, one green, and a white. Not that one really cares for anything other than black. In any case, the black variety did strike my fancy, which is no mean feat, let me tell you. Called Royal Blend, it was smokier and not quite as floral as my preferred Earl Grey. But I decided, what the hell, you only live once. I'll give it a go!

Royal Blend tea
An impeccable tea with a splash of milk

First the champagne arrives. And, as always when one orders champagne, the glass is not nearly as full as one would like. But, alas, champagne is champagne and one takes what one can get. From there it gets a bit shambolic. The teas arrive and you find yourself double-fisting (unless you're like me and have already inhaled the champagne).

The tea is naturally loose (oh no! someone catch it quick!), and arrives with an adorable strainer (almost wanted to nick one as a souvenir). Please see my pictures for a glimpse of the smashing china (no, it's not a Greek restaurant, we don't throw plates to the floor here).

The sandwiches are run-of-the-mill British finger food. In Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, Algy goes on and on about the bloody cucumber sandwiches. Frankly, I don't see what all the fuss is about. The most interesting creation was the salmon and horseradish on poppy seed bread.

And then! The moment we've all been waiting for.
cakes sandwiches
Cakes and sandwiches galore

Look at those brilliant colours!

An unlimited supply of cakes and scones to send you rolling home! Clotted cream and insanely sweet strawberry jam make your teeth run and hide at the very sight of them. I have to say the scones were fabulous. Not too sweet, not too dry. Just right. On the cake side we were treated to some right colourful things, saturated with bright colours and sugar. A pistachio cream layer cake looked incredibly busy for its own good. Sadly it was. My favourite was a mandarin orange concoction with a layer of dark chocolate. Just the right degree of tartness to go with that smoky Royal Grey.

All in all a 'truly authentic' high tea experience. So if you're looking to capture the right mood before the next episode of Downton Abbey, I say in the words of Lady Grantham, "It's just the ticket!"
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Why? Truly authentic high tea
When: Monday to Saturday 12pm to 9pm. Sunday 12pm to 6pm
Phone: 0845 602 5694
Where: The Diamond Jubilee Salon, Fortnum & Mason
Cost: 41 and up
Your Comment
This is a great article - I'm definitely going to this place!
by eckuc (score: 0|4) 3521 days ago
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