Being a great lover of scones with lashings of jam and cream meant the one foodie extravagance that I had to have in London was a session at the Ritz. As you can expect, the Ritz being the institution that is runs high tea from mid morning, all the way up to its last session at 7.30pm, which was the session we booked. After making an online booking, we then received a rather pointed set of instructions via email declaring that all men were required to wear a collared shirt and tie and for women, a dress! A dress indeed! Surely there would be an exception to prevent a girl from Australia freezing to death? But alas the Ritz makes no such exception and for good reason too.
For when you step through the front doors you are awe struck by the Parisian opulence of the place. All the gold, marble and ornate plaster work. There is an inhouse pianist, an accompanying string quartet and staff to exchange the heavy burden of your coat for a petite tasselled token. You are seated, offered coffee or a choice of one of their 17 teas which are served from heavy silverware bearing the Ritz lion standard.
At the appropriate time a three tier stand in brought to your table bearing only two plates, one containing petite cakes (macaron, mille feuille and two rich chocolate cakes) and the other sandwiches. Each guest receives one each of the following sandwiches which means you don’t have to resort to paper, scissors, rock off for the salmon one:
- Ham Sandwich with Grain Mustard Mayonnaise on White Bread
- Cheddar Cheese Sandwich with Chutney on Onion Bread
- Cucumber Sandwich with Cream Cheese, Dill, and Chives on Caraway Seed Bread
- Chicken Breast Sandwich with Horseradish Cream on White Bread
- Scottish Smoked Salmon with Lemon Butter on Rye Bread
- Egg Mayonnaise Sandwich with Chopped Shallots and Watercress on White Bread
During our sitting we were offered extra sandwiches, but I suspect this was because we were the last session as it’s an uphill battle to chomp, munch and politely belch through plain and raisin scones, a yogurt palette cleanser and your choice of cake.
Somehow through the misty forests of the food coma, PIE (Partner in Eating), and I realised that if it we didn’t ask for the bill before the session ended it would be a complete bum fight to acquire a cab back to our hotel (a complete necessity due to be being forced to wear a dress) so we asked for our bill early. One can only assume that billing is completed by one individual and as a result when our waiter brought us a bill totalling £45.00 it came somewhat as a shock. £45.00 equates approximately to a princely $66 AUD and ought to be the amount for just one guest at the Ritz. So I said, “quick, Spensley, put down the money. Let’s grab our coats and if they stop us say, we thought one meant one bill for the table.” We put down our pounds, tossed our token at the cloakroom for our coats and walked briskly towards the door and into a waiting cab. It was only then that I declared, “22 odd pounds each for the Ritz, that’s fair.” Australians, convicts. But really what what's the worst they could do? Send us home?