I had been wanting to go to the Soho Secret Tea Room after seeing it on a London Must Do list. The opportunity came up at a birthday tea party. There were 8 of us, and we made a reservation. We had to leave £10 a head deposit since we were such a large group. Fair enough.
The tea room is above the Coach & Horses pub and it isn't entirely obvious how you get upstairs - it's through the bar. The tea room itself is quite delightful in a quirky way. For instance, the tables are laid with old-fashioned mis-matched tea cups and saucers.
It was Sunday afternoon and busy. Service was a bit erratic. It took a long time to bring tea and cakes to the table. They forgot one person's pot of tea, and later they forgot that I had asked for a top-up of my empty tea pot. I had a cough and asked for honey with my tea. The waitress came back saying that the kitchen didn't have honey but I might like to try maple syrup instead !
They don't do small tea cakes. Instead, they give you a slice from a big cake which means that you don't get a selection as you would in other tea houses unless you're a big enough group, and it's not quite as dainty. We did think that the scones and cakes were delicious. The sandwiches weren't broadly as satisfying.
There were 2 vegans in our party and they were well-catered for and quite happy - impressed even - with their scones and cakes. They were served cucumber sandwiches instead of a selection.
Nevertheless, we were enjoying ourselves and catching up and relatively distracted from small nuisances like poor service. While we were in the swing of it, the waitress came to inform us that we had to vacate the table in 15 minutes. Apparently, table bookings are only for 1.5 hours ... something they did not tell us when we booked the table. When we said this, the waitress insisted that it was the rules of the house and we had to leave. We were all slightly stunned, mouths half full of cake. By the by, they didn't press us and it probably took us 20+ minutes to finish up and leave. But the damage was done. The instruction to leave blunted the loveliness of our Sunday afternoon outing.
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