Should you bother with afternoon tea at the Ritz?

Following years of unsuccessful negotiations, and somewhat begrudgingly, I agreed to book afternoon tea for our anniversary. 

I don’t wear a suit and tie combo to work, so why would I want to do it when I eat out? Something I’m sure many can sympathise with. 

Despite what you might think reading this article, I was pleasantly surprised by the Ritz. The whole thing had a certain charm to it, which lent itself to a rather enjoyable experience.

Would I go again? Probably not. Would I recommend it? Yes.

Let’s get one thing out the way. It’s impossible to sugar coat it, afternoon tea hardly represents good value for money. Especially somewhere such as the Ritz, where it will set you back at least £50 a person.

If you can put that to one side, relax and just go with it, you’ll probably find the whole experience rather enjoyable. That is until the bill arrives and you start having flash backs. 

Having just been shown to our seats, nothing could prepare me for the overwhelming choice of teas that were being offered. Something I was ill equipped to handle, given I had only recently graduated past English Breakfast.

I did what anyone else would do in my situation. Panicked, got flustered and ordered the passion fruit tea. 

What did I just do..?

Tea served, it was time for us to tackle the sandwiches and desserts. Two things that go hand in hand, obviously. Who am I to judge?

This is where they started to impress me. Our sandwiches were served on separate tiers, to limit the risk of cross contamination and our waiter was well versed and knowledgeable, allowing me to enjoy my food without the fear of being glutened.

You’ll notice that they only have one type of gluten free bread, which was a little disappointing on reflection, considering my partner had six varieties. At the time though, I was too busy enjoying myself to care. Often I have to toast gluten free bread to make it more palatable, thankfully that wasn’t necessary here.

With our tanks quickly filling, we made one final push to finish off the sandwiches, all the while laughing at the thought of people choosing scones with raisins in them. How absurd.

On to the desserts. I have to be honest, as nice as this course was I could have done without it. With the promise of scones around the corner, I wanted to save some space in my stomach. 

That maccaron though, was delightful.

I read online that someone was served a gluten free scone that was still frozen in the middle while at the Ritz…

Maybe batch cooking and freezing helps control cross contamination? Or they don’t serve enough on a daily basis to warrant making it fresh each morning. Either way, as time passes by, my unjustified concerns grow.

Ahh, finally our scones arrive. 

They’ve only gone and served me a bloody scone with raisins in it, haven’t they. 

As I sit there in disbelief, I weigh up my options. Then I remember I’m British and make do, hoping for the best.

Whilst I certainly wasn’t converted, it didn’t take me long to polish it off. Should count my luck that it wasn’t frozen. 

However, it was reassuring that they took my condition seriously, so much so that they served separate pots of jam and cream. Which worked well for me, as I hate sharing anyway.

My partner laughs, as she scoffs down her plain scone.

Bollocks, there’s another course. I wasn’t prepared for this. Why didn’t someone warn me? All my energy went into that scone. Oh, that bloody scone.

My partner is in fits of giggles now. Typical. 

As the trolley closes in, I realise I might have got away with it. Two cakes, both of which clearly weren’t gluten free. Maybe I’ve dodged a bullet. I relax, maybe l won’t need to lie down to recover from a food coma after all?

With an enthusiastic smile, the waiter disappears under his trolley and pops up with an individually crafted carrot cake. He proclaims that the kitchen has kindly put it together for me, so I wouldn’t miss out. 

I guess this serves me right. 

It wasn’t anything spectacular. Maybe that’s because I was bursting at the seams, or worse, I’ve turned into a carrot cake snob. 

Plates and teapots empty, we had time to sit back and bask in the ambience. It has to be said, you are hard pressed to find a more iconic setting for afternoon tea.

The thing that struck me most before we left was their no doggy bag policy. Health and safety, what else?

How was your gluten free experience at the Ritz? Is there somewhere else that you would recommend?

Images unapologetically shot on an iPhone 5S.

Oh and the passion fruit tea was actually rather good.

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