The Privy Kitchen

DT@Privy Kitchen Cafe#

King Henry VIII’s extravagant Hampton Court Palace turned 500 this year. The colossal collection of buildings and gardens, and the extravagant antiquities that fill it, is a mind-boggling rabbit warren that show’s the excesses and follies of the Tudor era. On the outskirts of London and by the Thames, the huge property not only houses the Palace, but has extensive gardens that include the Maze, Privy Garden and the Royal Tennis Courts. Whether by guided tour or using the provided audio guide, it’s easy to get lost in history whilst delving into the very public and private life of the former king. Formerly used as Queen Elizabeth 1’s private kitchen, the discreetly located Privy Kitchen café was built in the late 1550s. The 16th century style dining hall offers a refectory style of dining as well as a smaller, more intimate dining room next door. The café dishes up a no-frills morning or afternoon tea of scones, Tiptree strawberry jam and Rodda’s clotted cream. The fruit scones are yet again served at room temperature and by lunchtime, my scone is leaning towards the dry side. Hampton Court Palace shows the fascinating history of the Tudors and is well worth a visit, and if the Privy Kitchen café doesn’t suit, there is always the Tiltyard Cafe to try.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A basic selection of Twinings tea bags served in a mug.

Price: £5.40

Overall: Sporting a 16th century vibe, it’s cosy in lousy weather.

Location: Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey KT8 9AU Ph: +44 20 3166 6000
Reviewed in October, 2015
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The Tea Room

DT@The Tea Room - Harrods#

Who wouldn’t like to have tea at Harrods in London? Forget about the eye watering prices, the tourists, or the queues (there are no reservations), because really it’s like mecca for scone lovers. The upmarket department store is the largest in Europe, touting 330 departments. Since 1905 the imposing Harrods building has dominated the Knightsbridge shopping precinct, and is a massive draw card for locals tourists worldwide. The upmarket department store is also the largest in Europe, touting 330 departments, so by the time you find The Tea Room, tucked away on the second floor somewhere behind the Christmas decoration department, you’ll need a cup of tea. We’re lucky, and slip straight in to a seat – no queuing. The Tea Room is bright and open, although seating arrangements can be a little close for more intimate conversations. There’s an extensive menu, but I’m here for The Chelsea (scones, jam and clotted cream). There’s a lot to take in; the matching Wedgewood floral tea ware, the Harrods shortbread biscuit served with the tea, the scoop of slightly yellow clotted cream, and the four different Harrods branded jams served in small jars. My choice is the blackcurrant, as it’s rich and fruity. I’m not a fan of marmalade, and I’ve had better strawberry and raspberry jam elsewhere. The fruit scones look impressive, but once tackled, they fall apart in large pieces. I’m surprised at how crumbly they are and once again, I’ve had far better. However, perhaps it’s not about the scones, but more about the reality that you are indeed at Harrods in London!

Scones: 

Jam:  to 

Cream: 

Tea: A vast selection of Harrods’ fine loose-leaf teas served in a good-sized pot. Choose wisely as prices start at £5.00 a pot. If you have a spare £15, try a pot of the 22-Karat Gold Tea, Assam, a tea with leaves enrobed in 22kt gold leaf.

Price: From £14.50 (depending on the choice of tea)

Overall: A shopping institution that deserves bragging rights.

Location: Harrods, 87-135 Brompton Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7XL Ph: +44 20 7730 1234
Reviewed in October, 2015

Serpentine Bar & Kitchen

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There’s nothing finer than a stroll, run or ride through one of London’s Royal Parks and Gardens. Covering 350 acres, Hyde Park is a huge green space, and home to the Diana Memorial Fountain, Speaker’s Corner, and the Serpentine Lake. The lake not only is the centrepiece of the park but also offers boating and swimming. Records show that informal swimming groups have plied the waters since the early 1800s, and the Serpentine Swimming Club formed in 1864, still exists to this day. Although you can’t see the swimmers from the Serpentine Bar & Kitchen (you have to visit the Lido Bar & Cafe for that), you can still sit lakeside or within the glass-walled cosy confines of the buzzy café and admire the view. Avoid the lunchtime queues and visit either side for a more relaxed experience, plus you are more likely to nab an outside table or deck chair in milder weather. There’s quite a morning/afternoon tea spread, including a towering stack of large fruit scones. This is my first ‘cream tea’ in the UK (on this trip), and I quickly learn that as the norm, scones are served at room temperature. These scones are slightly crisp with a surprisingly fluffy centre, and go down well after my overnight flight from Hong Kong. The miniature jar of Tip Tree strawberry jam could be bigger, but the chilled tub of Rodda’s Classic Cornish Cream doesn’t disappoint.

Scones: 

Jam: 

Cream: 

Tea: A good range of loose-leaf teas served in a no-nonsense pot.

Price: £6.40

Overall: A hugely busy café with the added serenity of being in the middle of Hyde Park.

Location: Serpentine Rd, Hyde Park, London W2 2UH Ph: +44 20 7706 8114
Reviewed in October, 2015