Last Friday we popped to a place that had been highly recommended to us by more than a few of our friends. A tea shop in the shadow of St Paul's Cathedral in London that has a reputation for brilliant tea and cake, how could we not make a visit!
Bea's of Bloomsbury surprised me slightly, as I expected to see a quaint little old school tea room, however the ultra modern exterior was not without charm. The glass frontage let you get the full effect of the hanging teapots filling the ceiling space of the upper floor of the St Paul's branch of Bea's.
The interior was more as I had imagined, with sumptuous brocade furnishings and pastel painted dressers stacked with teacups and cake stands.
We arrived at 3pm on a Friday and it was busy! We had decided to opt for tea and cake over the full afternoon tea as we had a party to go to later that evening. They do recommend booking for the afternoon tea, and I can see why. We had to wait to be seated just for tea and cake, but it gave us a chance to have a look upstairs where the reserved tables are and to take some pictures. I took a nosey at the 'Tea with Bea' book (which is now on my Amazon wish list) filled with yummy recipes for everything from cheesecake to 'The Perfect Scone'.
I will admit I was expecting something a little grander than we got, it may have been different had we gone for the full afternoon tea option, but sat downstairs it did feel just like a little cafe, not nearly as cosy as the upstairs booths and teapot lights atmosphere.
The staff were friendly and helpful, if a little distracted, I assume because they were busy. I think I was hoping for a little more personality.
I hate to say but I was a little disappointed with the choice of cakes, the glass cabinet that makes up the counter looked a little empty when we arrived, again I have to assume it was because they were busy, but I would like to think that a place that offered tea and cake would have had more to offer at 'tea and cake' time of day? There were maybe four flavours of cupcake and five larger cakes on offer, this may seem like enough but considering the 20 flavours of cupcake they show on their website I was surprised, and three of the larger cakes where cheesecakes, which I can't eat :(
H said she would have like the cakes to be labelled in the display, which I agree with, It's nice to know what you are looking at, I often find that when they are, it's more enticing. H doesn't eat nuts (which makes cake choosing difficult) and I may have chosen differently had I had the chance to decide what to have whilst we were in the queue.
H and I chose two cupcakes to share, and a pot of tea for two and took a seat at our table.
We had a Chocolate Bailey's and a Double Vanilla. They were both lovely, cake part was velvety smooth with just enough Bailey's flavour, not to overpowering. The Vanilla cake was lovely, perfectly sweet icing and the cake was deliciously spongy.
In the wall beside the downstairs seating are little vignette windows with teapots and tea memorabilia which are really cute.
Those tea pot lights really are darling.
All in all I would definitely go back to Bea's, having seen it, it will be afternoon tea next time for sure. I feel that that may have been a more relaxing, personal experience. The cakes were lovely, but I would have liked more choice, and I found the atmosphere was lacking a little in the downstairs seating area, compared to the upstairs. I feel that maybe we didn't get the best of this place, as I said when we arrived it was busy, which was, I suppose, to be expected at 3pm on a Friday afternoon but it still is definitely worth a return trip.
If you fancy paying them a visit then here's all the info you need:
Bea's of Bloomsbury - St. Paul's
83 Watling Street London EC4M 9BX
They also have two other venues in Bloomsbury and Maltby Street, more information can be found on their website.
So any recommendations people?? H and I love an excuse to have a 'cake outing'
Where are your favourite places??