The Gallery Restaurant has been a firm favourite of mine for catching up with friends when in London. It is comfortable and the decor is not pretentious or forced. I would highly recommend The Gallery for breakfast; while not cheap, the quality of the food, presentation and service is very high indeed. Being born and raised in Wales, I can confirm with authority that the Welsh Rarebit is the best I have ever tasted, and many Welsh friends feel the same.
The tea menu isn't as extensive as it used to be, but what's available should cover most tastes and interests. If it's tea you want then a visit to the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon on the top floor will be the place to go.
As with all restaurants there have, in the past, been some grumbles - always to do with the service (the food is consistently of a high standard). However, Fortnum's takes seriously anyone who has cause to complain about the service and are ready to make amends immediately. A few months ago we were offered 25% off vouchers (3 of them) for a return visit, 80% off the bill to accommodate for the poor service (it was all down to one member of staff which let the side down on the day) and a face-to-face apology from the senior manager (who insisted on apologising individually to each member of our group).
I have to admit, this has only happened once, and I don't mention it here to frighten you off from visiting, but rather to show the standards that the staff have of themselves and each other. In this case the issue was not only resolved to our satisfaction but we were also given more than we expected (money off, vouchers etc). This, I feel, speaks directly to the high regard the senior staff place on each individual customer.
We visited a few weeks ago and were welcomed with open arms, like long-list relatives... and I must admit we had the best service we've ever experienced. It is for this reason, and for all the other wonderful visits, that I give such high rating for The Gallery... it is easy to make mistakes, it's how they are dealt with that matters.
Prices: the pricing is high, around £5 for a pot of tea (although there is usually about 3-4 cups to be found in the beautiful silver teapots) and the Rarebit that I mentioned is around £10 for one slice or £15 for two slices of bread (with tomato and two rashers of thick-cut Welsh bacon). It is easy for one visit to cost £30 for tea and cake (including 12.5% service charge) and perhaps there may be cheaper places locally (Starbucks or Costa), but the whole point of going to Fortnum's is for the 'experience' that few places in London can match (plus the cakes are out of this world).
We were smitten by the first visit and make a point of visiting every time we visit London (around 3 times a year). Go on... give it a go... and ENJOY!
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