The V&A

20140222-093012.jpg

The Victoria and Albert museum. A slightly more grown up neighbour to the natural history and science museums. I say that only because there are no child aimed activities in the V&A, which is a shame because I like a good interactive game.

It was still half term so I decided to fit in another cake shop visit, this time taking along my mum and sister for a catch up. The plan was to go along to one of the bakeries on the kings road but when I double checked them it turned out two had closed down! Plans scuppered. So we met up at South Kensington and headed somewhere that I knew would do us a good lunch.

The Victoria and Albert museum cafe is not in my book. It is not renowned for its cake. It does do a very nice lunch however and is a great place for a ‘ladies who lunch’ in London. The Morris, Gamble and Poynter rooms were the first ever museum restaurant and are a stunning setting to eat in.

There is a great selection of lunches to choose from and plenty of cakes for afters! So we had salads and sandwiches and then picked our sweets. Lydia chose a slab of chocolate cake. Mum and I chose to share a St Clements cake and a berry slice. We were so eager I forgot to take photos before we halved the cakes, so apologies for the dodgyness. The berry slice was the clear winner, moist, fruity and a good size. The St Clements was very moist and almondy but didn’t taste of lemons or oranges. The chocolate cake was tasty but a little dry and needed either more icing or cream.

We had a lovely afternoon looking at arty historical things and the current fashion display which had lots of painful looking to fit into dresses.
If you live in London and need somewhere to spend an afternoon with the girls then I highly recommend the V&A.

Ratings:
Cake: Me: 5/7 Mum: 5/7 Lydia: 5/7 not the best cake, not the worst.

Atmosphere: 6/7 lovely rooms, busy, nice food. You may have to fight for a table in one of the pretty rooms.

20140222-095110.jpg

20140222-095124.jpg

Advertisements

Dolly’s

IMG_0238

It’s half term! Yay!  A week off for me, and a change in my normal cake eating day. So it was a Monday, and rather than off to school it was off shopping on Oxford street.

I naively thought that this normally hellishly busy shopping location might be rather more quiet  on a Monday, but I forgot that I am not the only one on half term. So after a fairly successful sally forth into the jaws of death, aka a trip to Primark (£3 work skirt, I think so), I was much in need of some refreshment. Steph was my comrade in arms and together we headed for Dolly’s. This cafe in Selfridge’s was a nearby stop for some lunch.

The cafe area is quite small and is in the middle of the shop. We had to queue but it didn’t take long at all and we were entertained by the story of the cafe and its namesakes the identical twin Dolly sisters who were lovers of Mr Selfridge. The staff wear lovely old fashioned black and white outfits and the silver crockery made the whole affair feel rather upmarket, especially as we could see the Selfridge’s champagnes on offer behind us.

We decided to treat ourselves and ordered the deluxe afternoon tea for two. The first full afternoon tea to feature on the blog. The huge silver teapot added to the class and there were generous amounts of jam and clotted cream. There were a good selection of finger sandwiches and extra open sandwiches with humous and crab and lobster rolls. These were pleasant enough, even though i’m not the biggest fan of fish,  but perhaps not quite worth the extra money to go deluxe for. The scones were tasty but not out of this world. The pastries on top were the most stunning looking part and we saved them until last. They did taste good, but again they weren’t as imaginative tasting as they looked. Overall the perfect amount of food to refresh us for even more shopping, and lovely service! I would very much recommend as a good place to have a rest and a cup of tea.

Time was then spent looking around Selfridge’s for a spot of ‘if I won the lottery what would I buy’ before we went onwards to exhaustively explore all five floors of the big H&M and find more bargains.

Ratings:

Cakes:  Me 5/7  Steph 5/7  well done choux pastries and scones, could have been a bit more special.

Atmosphere: 5/7 very nice set up with the silver and fancy uniforms, but couldn’t quite get away from the fact that it was an open area in the middle of the shop floor. Good place to people watch, but with very real danger of being watched back.

IMG_0240

Bea’s of Bloomsbury

IMG_0227

Excitement! My first girly catch up tea and cake entry. I chose Bea’s of Bloomsbury because it looked like an excellent, central, cosy cake place to spend an afternoon with the girls. I was meeting up with my fellow classicists from University for a well overdue reunion. As we used to have our lunch dates in Gregg’s when at Durham, Bea’s was a good step up for us! Although I won’t hear a bad thing said about a Gregg’s steak bake.

So we turned up to the original Holborn Bea’s when it opened at 12 noon. The cafe itself was quite small and had about 6 tables for 2-4 squished in around the huge cake display. The cakes looked amazing. There was a good selection of cupcakes, brownies, blondies and even something that looked like a brownie baked in pastry?!? It was the cheesecakes, however, that stole our hearts.

I chose the lemon meringue cheesecake, tempted by the caramelised meringue on top. Dominique and Katie both went for the chocolate peanut butter cheesecake, while Katy opted for the truffle chocolate cake. The tea came in futuristic looking metal teapots for one and we had a comfy cushiony seat. The main problem was that everyone else had booked and so we had to vacate our table by 1.30. So a spanner in our girly chat time, and a tip for anyone thinking of visiting.  Otherwise the staff were fairly friendly and the décor modern and pretty, think teapots hanging from the ceiling and pretty flowery plates.

The cheesecake was yummy; it tasted like very good New York style cheesecake with lemon curd and meringue on top, which worked well and the meringue was very light and fluffy. The peanut butter chocolate cheesecake, with a layer of each on top and crunchy peanut decorations, was almost more tasty but so rich it was difficult to finish. I didn’t taste the chocolate cake but the speed with which Katy ate it suggested it was good. Overall these were good cakes and made a good lunch for us, as there was no savoury option available for the weekend. A lovely Saturday with my Latin Ladies, thank you for a lovely catch up girls. I think we found a better place than Gregg’s to indulge our cake fancies!

On another note, from looking at what other tables were eating, the afternoon tea option looked rather enticing!

Ratings:

Cake: Me 5.5/7 Dominique 5/7 Katy: tba Katie: tba

Atmosphere: 4/7 – should have booked.

IMG_0228      IMG_0230

An eastern adventure, The Albion.

IMG_0218

IMG_0224

 

Our favourite thing to do on a Saturday is spend the day wandering around London. Yesterday we set off on an exotic bus ride from Canary Wharf towards Hackney to explore the east end! We were expecting pop up food stalls, tweed and hipsters, and we found these aplenty! We even decided to amuse ourselves by looking out for east Londoners sporting that new trend, the hipster beard, and keeping a beard count. But what counts as a hipster beard? Charlie insisted that it is a beard that could stand up by itself. I don’t really know what that means either, but that is what we looked out for!

We were looking for an entry in the book called Molly Bakes, which claimed to be a cake pop supplier to celebs and open from 11am – 6pm on Saturdays at Netil Market next to London Fields. This market was small and lovely but we could not see Molly Bakes! Perhaps we were blind, perhaps she took the day off? So we continued our adventure. The  London Fields were nice to walk around and we discovered a lots of little market stalls and the larger Broadway Market. An excellent place for foodies in want of street food and independent crafty bits. Sorry to the lady selling the gourmet marshmallows, they were most tasty but I am not paying £1 for one square!

Eventually, after only getting slightly lost but discovering Hackney City Farm then leaving because it doesn’t seem as good as the Surrey Quays version, we arrived at The Albion. This cafe is right near Shoreditch Station and has a little food shop attached. We had to queue for 20 mins to get in! This wasn’t particularly awful because we queued next to the cake selection so we had plenty of time to decide what to have, and as they weren’t in the menu I would positively recommend it as a way of getting a good look at what was on offer. As the queuing suggests, the cafe was rammed. It does English themed meals as well as cakes and afternoon tea and it was worth the wait.

Having looked at the cakes for so long, we ended up going nuts! Well almonds to be more precise. I chose a particularly bright Battenburg and Charlie went for an almond and pear tart. The service was excellent and there was a good vibe about the place, not too noisy despite being full but a good buzz and even though we were in the back we still felt part of the action. The cafe felt quite upmarket at first but it was very friendly and the bottles of tomato ketchup and Oxford sauce on the tables made us feel right at ease.

This was, hands down, the best Battenburg I have ever eaten. Ok, probably some of the only Battenburg I have eaten, but it was delicious. Very almondy, Barbie pink and sunshine yellow, plenty of raspberry jam. Charlie’s tart was a well done frangipane, but he would have liked a little more pear.

Ratings:

Atmosphere: 5.5 /7  (definitely a restaurant rather than a tearoom, but lovely all the same).

Cake: Me 6/7  Charlie: 6/7

Oh, but what about the beard count I hear you ask? Well, stand by itself full hipster beards: 12. Men with trendy facial hair: innumerable.

IMG_0222           IMG_0219