Tea @ Brumus, Haymarket Hotel, Piccadilly, London
A plush room, rendered richly in red. Excellent tea, in terms of food quality, perhaps even a notch up from Tea Palace.
The Darjeeling, while not the absolute best I've ever had, gave off pleasant aroma, and the soft woods of the tea given to a mellow faint green character, a notch or so up from most in terms of complexity.
Great scones (one plain, one dotted with raisins) - brilliantly crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, kept warm in a napkin, wonderful cloaked on the smooth clotted cream and napped with honey (or marmalade or blackcurrant jam).
Sandwiches were exemplary - all full of flavour. Thin slices of smoked deeply flavoured salmon with chive and a light coat of creme fraiche; egg and watercress was eggy and almost creamy against which the bits of sharp watercress posed a great counterpoint. Rich tasing avocado slices, just the right ripeness, balanced against the tender sweet fibres of crab. The pungence of mustard, subtle but invigorating, against supple ham.
Very good examples of cupcakes too, walnut with a coffee frosting and chocolate. Well tuned frosting, not over the top rich, but given the right restraint. A pleasant slice of cake with some (plum?) jam in the centre.
Very gracious, welcoming service; the waitstaff coming back with the right frequency to ask about refills or to offer more food.
Spa treatment for the belly and the soul.
BTW, I got the idea from this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/578578 -- there's more stuff there.
Well, not so much busy as clearing a backlog from a couple of months of chow. I think my strategy for Haymarket next time would be to get only tea, sandwiches and scones, and to skip the cakes (they're good, but just way too much). I don't remember if there's an a la carte option, but the folks there were very gracious and helpful, so I suspect I won't be a big problem to do so.