21 February 2010

Afternoon Tea at Bea's of Bloomsbury


If you've read my last post about The Wolseley, then you'll know I'm a big fan of afternoon tea.  You'll also know that it's an indulgent treat that I partake in only when treating someone else.  That's why I was really excited about trying out Bea's of Bloomsbury, an artisan cafe that serves a fabulously indulgent afternoon tea for under £10.

Bea's of Bloomsbury is located on Theobald's Road.   Discounting  the fabulous chippy, the Fryer's Delight there's not much else on the road which is practically deserted at the weekend due to its close proximity to the City.   Located about 10-15 minutes walk from Holborn Tube near Gray's Inn Road. It's a tiny hole-in-the-wall, and you'd probably walk past it without blinking, if it were not for the elaborate display of towering cakes in the window.   

On entering the dimly lit cafe a few Sunday's ago, my senses were immediately hit with the delightful and homely aroma of baking cakes,.drifting from the open kitchen located at the back of the room, followed by a mesmerising array of cakes on display on the counter. 

If you want to do the afternoon tea at the weekend, you have to book.   The cafe only has room for few casual walk-ins and most of the tables are reserved.  The  afternoon tea includes a scone served with clotted cream and jam, one of the cafe's signature cupcakes, a mini Valrhona brownie, a mini Belgian Blondie, a mini meringue and a pot of tea presented on a beautiful ceramic cake stand.    The cupcake selection included the Lamington Cupcake, inspired by the Antipodean sweet it comprised a coconut cake glazed in a rich fudge icing covered in dessicated coconut; and the Praline Chocolate Cupcake, a Belgian chocolate cake topped with a rich hazelnut praline butter cream.  Two flavours I'd probably wouldn't have chosen, given the option.

The much-lauded cupcakes were certainly beautifully decorated, moist and spongy, but the taste was a disappointment for a cupcake aficionado like myself.  If Hummingbird Bakery didn't exist, I would have been happy with my cupcake, however it does and the Bea's of Bloomsbury cupcake just doesn't compare to the buttery Hummingbird creation.   However, it's not offensive, but just incredibly sweet.   Indeed, the whole afternoon tea selection is one big sugar rush.   It was almost too much, that it took almost two hours and several pots of tea to wash it all down.  

If I were to do it all again, I would probably just skip afternoon tea and order the the delicious scones, which were freshly baked and served warm - I could have happily indulged in two and nothing else.

Verdict:   Bea's of Bloomsbury is not as swish as The Wolsely or the Ritz, but it's a cosy spot you can go to chat and catch-up with friends.  Afternoon tea is all too often considered a formal occasion, and the cafe's egalitarian pricing means it's definitely something we can all indulge in more frequently.

Bea's of Bloomsbury on Urbanspoon

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