Some things just have to be done, and tea at the Ritz is one of them. Today was my third time there and the glitter hasn't come off yet. I was treating a friend for her birthday which was a couple of weeks ago but I was late booking. Tea at the Ritz needs to be booked at least three months in advance.
So we finish work and head over on the hot and sweaty tube. Having been to the Ritz before I know which entrance to use. The commissionaire is all brass buttons etc and various gentlemen wave us along plushy carpeted corridors in the direction of the music. The lavatory is called a powder room and you get a little personal towel to dry your hands on. Up a couple of steps and there you are. It's all gilded angels and baroque crenellations. Someone wearing a tailcoat is playing the piano. The waiter says 'Good afternoon ladies' and I look round to see who he's talking to. Ah. It seems I'm a lady for the afternoon. He leads us over to our table.
The waiter pulls the table out and I remember just in time not to sit down till he's pulled my chair out for me too. Similarly not to unfold my napkin because this is the sort of place where they do that for you (just in case you're the kind of oik who forgets napkins). Just behind my friend is a gold plaster goddess wearing half a sarong (bottom half). We choose our tea (lapsang for me, Earl Grey for my friend). It arrives with a warning to let it stand for five minutes. We do so, and pour. The china is beautiful and custom designed for the Ritz.
The sandwiches and cakes arrive. Three tiers, two of sandwiches, one of cakes. There are ten finger sandwiches each, and - trust me - it's a lot to eat. Before we've finished, the waiter's back with scones. And clotted cream. And jam. I am pleased to see that the scones are quite small, but there are two each.
My friend is starting to flag (I've already eaten one of her sandwiches for her). The last half scone is taxing for each of us. Then the waiter comes round with a tray of cake, and we choose a piece each. My friend goes for the strawberry, cream and nut job. I pick the lemon drizzle. It is, of course, divine. Sharp and sweet.
We plough on. The waiter brings us a fresh pot of tea each. I've drunk so much Lapsang I'm kippered (it's smoked, if you haven't tried it). I pick a small cake from the cake stand, but my friend can't. In fact she's unable to even contemplate the cake stand. She's positively avoiding its eye. That last small cake is all I can manage too. Shouldn't have had the second scone, should I? We leave four of them.
I can't begin to score this but I'd guess about 1,200 calories. I don't take milk or sugar in tea, a small mercy.
And no, we didn't take photos. We're not tourists you know. We live here!