We have been trying to get to The English Tea Room since the queen died. But it’s not easy, The place is always packed. Since it was a rainy day we thought we might have more luck, and we did.
Sitting in a small room of British knick-knacks, I admired how well they execute the theme here. There was practically a shrine to Diana in the corner of the room where I sat. Everywhere else in the place are similar cliches, with cardboard cutouts of members of the monarchy, Churchill, and Downtown Abbey stars.
We ordered iced tea to drink, and it suddenly occurred to me they might be brewing it individually. The next question our waitress asked confirmed my suspicion. “What kind of tea would you like?” When I answered black she followed up with the question, “Just black? Would you like some fruit infusion? Banana? Mango? Peach? “ I nodded affirmatively to the last one, and within minutes some delicious freshly-brewed iced tea arrived.
Scones are essential for any visit to the English Tea Room. Tim and Jan Waltrip, arriving from Texas 20 years ago, came with well-researched recipes to make this place authentically British. (Tim’s roots are Scotch and Jan is from Arkansas.) Nevertheless, the scones here rival any I’ve had at Fortnum & Mason, the Picadilly, London emporium to the Queen since 1707. There is always a basic vanilla scone, a scone of the day, plus a savory scone of the day. On the day of our visit, the scone du jour was blue currant. We had one of each, served the usual way here, with clotted cream (whipped cream), and lemon curd.
The scones here are just like the ones in England, round like a cookie but half an inch thick. They are lightly dusted with sugar on top and are served warm. They are fantastic. I prefer the plain vanilla, but the blue currant was also very good, lightly studded with blue currants, which I had never had before.
About this time the waitress returned to the table and stopped in her tracks at how fast we drank our iced tea. We’re used to going through a few glasses of the mass-produced Gold Leaf Tea from the twin dispensers at restaurants. This fancy specially-brewed tea should be sipped longer than we are wont to do. She put on another pot for us.
The menu is really large here, and I resisted the urge to get the quiche, opting for the Buckingham Bake instead. It is layers of eggs, hash browns, bacon, and cheese, baked in a casserole and cut into squares. I asked for it to be really baked because I imagined runny eggs.
It was a tad overdone, but that was what I asked for. This was served with fruit and a choice of crumpet, English Muffin, scone, or toast.
I had never had a crumpet and was pretty curious about it. What came to the table was a small pancake with the holes all on one side. It was a little thick and not especially tasty, but I was glad to discover what is meant by the term.
Tom had cinnamon toast, which came as four half slices of marbled bread interspersed with fruit. It was dry toast and he loved it.
We left after a delightful time, vowing to come back way more often. It will take a while to get through that menu.