The first time I started planning a trip to London, tea at the Savoy’s Thames Foyer was on the list. It’s not a cheap thing to do (£54 each!), and I was on a budget. But thinking back, it was completely worth it.
First of all, there’s the ambiance. The Thames Foyer is refined and beautiful.
According to the souvenir bookmark I was given, Frank Sinatra would go there in the early hours of the morning and play the piano, singing for himself and the staff. It’s not Frank Sinatra today, but there’s still live piano music.
There’s also a dress code: “Smart Casual, No Sportswear.” Richly padded chairs are nestled under formal tables set with polished silver. The waitstaff is attentive and helpful. Just walking in, I felt happy and gleefully expectant. When I saw the menu, I started to worry I wouldn’t be able to taste everything. Did I mention you can have as much as you want?
I went with the Traditional Afternoon tea, as this was my first tea in the UK and I wanted to sample the full shebang.
The tea menu is extensive. I don’t remember it all, and I didn’t get a picture, but there was such a variety that I tried three of them and they were all wonderful. The teas are, of course, served in the proper loose-leaf style. Each place setting is equipped with a silver pot of hot water and a strainer for the tea cup. (The Savoy waiters are happy to help perplexed Yanks figure out how to properly strain their tea.)
Let’s not digress, but I am really not a fan of condiments (aside from soy sauce and, occasionally, salsa). That being said, the poached corn fed chicken sandwiches were very good. I was able to successfully navigate around the other condiments and feel satisfied before moving on to the absolutely yummy scones.
I’ve already gone on about how much I love clotted cream, and the Savoy’s clotted cream ruined me for all other clotted cream. It was probably the all-time best I have ever had (or will ever have again). If they had just served me tea with scones and the clotted cream, I would have been satisfied. But they also have an incredible homemade lemon curd and strawberry preserves. Yum.
As I began my second pot of tea, they came around with more scones and cautioned us to save room for the pastries. There were so many pastries. I started to think this must be the sort of tea Lewis Carroll had in mind when he was writing about the mad tea party. After the pastries, we were offered a full slice of cake. Really, by that time, I couldn’t even contemplate eating more.