late saturday afternoon found i and i with three other ladies at the sofitel on piccadilly. we had to wait a while in the bar since our five o’clock reservation was significantly delayed by a group of ladies taking their tea at leisure. i guess windows of reservation seldom apply to female conversations. eventually we were seated in the very feminine rose lounge. soft pastel pinks and books whose covers were rose visuals made up the place. low sofas lined with substantial cushions were inviting and comfortable to settle into. shelves of books lined the spaces that are not mirrors or murals. for the most part the lounge is occupied by women.
shortly after we had situated ourselves comfortably we are confronted with the menu. a rather curly script informed us of a long tea list featuring black, oolong & white teas. there is silence as we ponder this list. after a while of silent deliberation we order revealing a diversity of tastes. all of us forgo the champagne tea settling for the traditional one.
five teapots arrive promptly along with a plate of ‘gerbet’ laudree macaroons. my lilac coloured one breaks into a moist centre of almond with a hint of lavender. the earl grey i ordered had a lovely bergamot aroma although i found it hard to mask my disappointment at its presentation. it came in those new glass teapots that are a hallmark of japanese tea rituals. the tea cups were villeroy and boch and had none of the delicacy of china tea cups with thin rims. whatever happened to those lovely floral patterned tea sets with a rim of gold? for me a cream tea should be served in a traditional tea set. while we were having this conversation three tier pastry stands appeared. on top were finger sandwiches followed by scones, plain and heavily studded with sultanas. at the bottom was clotted cream, lemon curd and rose scented raspberry jam.
the test of the tea began with the finger sandwiches. the salmon and cream cheese tasted good but was more of a canapé. i felt there was no space for an open topped sandwich at tea. the egg sandwich was its standard comforting self. t and i bit tentatively into our cucumber sandwich returning a verdict of good. for all its simplicity a cucumber sandwich can be so complicated to get right. luckily for the rose lounge, it had got the perfect cucumber sandwich; buttered soft white bread with a liberal spread of butter and thinly sliced cucumber.
working our way tier down the scones came next. they had a slight glaze on top. i broken one open and spread it liberally with jam and clotted cream. a scone consultation around the table established that they should have been a little dense. i remember mama's scones to be lightly crumbly. nonetheless they scored well. the jam was delightful! and so was the lemon curd that t and i indulged in with a spoon. the sultana scones were good too.
it took us a while to work our way through tea and the scones. so much so that we had almost forgotten about the pastries. they came along in neat lines and were held out for choice. the waitress allowed us two each since we were the last order. i don’t remember mine standing out much. the rose petal macaroon however was outstanding with a centre of petal pink rose crème.
to round off the rose lounge tea experience, i enjoyed it this once but i really really miss the old fashioned cream tea replete with china tea sets. the macaroons really shone, as did the comfort of surroundings and the pleasure of female conversation. i can’t say i’ll be going back though.