31 August 2012

Afternoon Tea - No 2 Browns Hotel

A proper afternoon tea in London doesn't come cheap but then if it was something you could have everyday would it be as special? Probably not. Round two of my 'Afternoon Tea Tour' with my friend Catherine, the undisputed Queen of Afternoon Tea, and she took me to Browns Hotel another of her particular favourites and arguably one of the most famous places for afternoon tea in London.

Where Fortnum's is light, airy and a great place for people watching, Browns is dark, old fashioned and incredibly cosy, you can settle in for hours with their unlimited supply of tea, sandwiches, cakes and scones and it is almost as if time has stopped. It doesn't matter what is going on outside, Browns is it's own little world, and this makes it an incredibly relaxing place to have tea.

Its hard to dress the part when you are heavily pregnant. Luckily for me it was a boiling hot day so I could legitimately wear my massive stripey sundress, not quite the thing for Browns, which requests a smart casual dress code, but no one seemed to mind. Catherine had phoned ahead and demanded the comfiest seats for my massive bulk and my god they were comfortable. Beautiful accompaniment on the baby grand provided the soundtrack, and the service was impeccable.

A wide variety of tea blends, including Browns own, are available (not quite as moreish as the Jubilee blend at Fortnums), finger sandwiches, scones, pastries and cakes appear almost instantly and are continuously replenished until you are full to bursting. The sandwiches (cucumber, smoked salmon, egg and cress, chicken salad and ham) were delicious, the scones are mini which I found incredibly appealing having stuffed myself on several rounds of sandwiches, served with clotted cream and strawberry jam. The cakes were particularly unusual and included a beautiful cranberry and elderflower jelly, a raspberry sponge and double chocolate cake.

It's hard to know which I preferred, Fortnums or Browns as they felt like completely different experiences. The service was better at Browns and it felt more private and personal, but Fortnums was so beautiful, light and airy and more buzzy, both fantastic for different reasons and great options for whatever your occassion. For real foodies, a private meeting or a dark, stormy winter's day go to Browns, for a treat after a days shopping, a bustly catch-up with girl friends off to Fornums with you.

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