I have decided to join the not-at-all crowded genre of blogs that write about restaurants. Firstly, because eating out is my favourite hobby. Secondly, because I have wanted diversify my blog for ages. And thirdly, because a woman at work recently told me “Louise, you have so many food recommendations, you’re basically a TimeOut guide!”*
*She actually compared me to TripAdvisor, but I demanded she rephrase it to something better.
Where: National Gallery, Trafalgar Square
When: February 2015
Price: £17.50 standard, £21.50 with champagne
Rating: * * *
In short: you get what you pay for – not bad for the relatively low price, but not great either.
I celebrated my birthday this year with Afternoon Tea at the National Gallery. There are so many options for Afternoon Tea in London, I opted for the Gallery because it was cheap, included bottomless tea, which is rare, and had multiple vegetarian options (your choice of vege sandwiches or a quinoa and vegetable salad).
The food was good. Not great, but how inspired can you be with finger sandwiches? The sandwiches (cucumber, ham and cheese, coronation chicken and smoked salmon) were good and the scone was yummy and pleasingly large. The desserts let it down – a chocolate mousse, lemon meringue pie, chocolate orange thing and Battenberg. I didn’t really enjoy any of them, and the gravest dessert sin was the lemon meringue pie’s flaccid pastry.
The drinks were also good. A large choice of black, green and fruit teas, and a nice glass of champagne (disclaimer: I am not a bubbly connoisseur). The bottomless tea was a big plus, but we were too full to take advantage.
The service was not good. After we were seated we were ignored. You might not mind if you are having a chilled afternoon, but we were hungry! We ordered two glasses of champagne, but were brought four. The table was not cleared until after we left, which made relaxing after the meal less comfortable. Catching a waiter proved so difficult that I had to get up to ask for the bill. If we had wanted extra tea, I got the impression that trying to find someone to order it would have been a chore. Maybe the front of house staff were just having a bad day, but given that the restaurant was less than half full and everyone was seated in the same corner, I think they could have been more attentive.
Overall, I got the impression that this was a case of getting what you pay for. The National Gallery offers a more relaxed and affordable Afternoon Tea experience than you might find elsewhere in London, but that comes at the cost of a less slick service.
If you would like to share your experience at the National Gallery dining rooms, please feel free to comment – mine is but one perspective.