What is it with the whole restaurants not opening on Mondays thing? I’m frequently at a loose end on this particular day of the week and it’s difficult to pretend you’re a ‘lady who lunches’ if nowhere is actually open to lunch in! One autumnal Monday afternoon, I met with an old friend and we decided to be ‘ladies who tea’ instead. I LOVE afternoon tea. I’m not going to dither around with frilly words to express it any other way. I’ve been to lots of the more renowned ones in my time and I await with trepidation that day in the future when my cholesterol results get read out to me. There’s a reason I’m yet to have it checked and I’m convinced doctors make the worst patients. In any case, today we were in the mood for something less formal. No fancy hotels and no 3 figure bills – just some good sandwiches, some good cake, a long chat and 2 old friends. One of us is a cake-eater. The other is a book-lover. What better place to marry up this divide than Tea and Tattle, a tiny, undiscovered gem of a tea room on the basement of the Arthur Probsthain Book Store, pointed out to me by my sister – just when I thought I was as tea-savvy as they get.
The concept is classic – sandwich, scone, tea. The twist is novel – you choose one sandwich flavour only from a broad and luxurious selection (I chose parma ham, rocket and red onion marmalade). The scone is a given but the jam is your choice from a selection of frutilicious homemade options, my preferred being the raspberry and vanilla. You then choose a generous-wedge of cake from a range of classics – Victoria sponge, Chocolate, Carrot, Lemon Drizzle. We wanted the lemon drizzle but they were out so between us, we chose the carrot and the Victoria sponge (an unusual choice for me as I don’t usually opt for this – I am becoming increasingly concerned about how many food items I actually avoid because of suppressed memories of school dinners! For £15, you can select tea for one – 1 cake, 1 scone, 1 sandwich. For £29.50, you can select tea for 2 – 2 cakes, 2 scones and – unsurprisingly – 2 sandwiches.
On their website, Tea and Tattle proclaim “Affordable Quality Afternoon Tea”. Certainly affordable and certainly quality and I would add that their service was welcoming, accommodating and we weren’t made to feel rushed in any way despite spending more than 2 hours in there. Sometimes, less is more and this little place has a character and charm superior to many of its more fancy competitors.