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Mar 22, 2011 10:53 AM

Tea and Cake in London. Advice needed!


A dear friend of mine is coming over from the States in a couple of weeks and I’ve promised to take her out in London for the best of all things: tea and cake. I have a couple of flimsy ideas of where to go, but I'm not all that familiar with cafes in town beyond quick and easy places like Costa or Nero. I was wondering if anyone could recommend a cafe that does particularly amazing cakes and is good for chilling out in? I’m thinking somewhere central or at least easily accessible from Waterloo. Any suggestions would be a great help. I wish I could just take her to the Ritz! Alas! (Sorry if this question has been asked/answered before).

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  1. The Fleet River Bakery in Holborn is a new find for me and I love it! It can get a bit crowded at lunch time, and it looks as if there aren't any seats available but there's an additional seating area at the back. I haven't tried their tea or coffee, but their cakes are gigantic and tasty and no one really cares if you hang out all afternoon.

    1 Reply
    1. re: astereilla

      Gigantic and tasty is exactly what we're looking for! We're meeting later in the afternoon so will hopefully miss lunch crowds. Thanks so much for the suggestion - I just Googled it and it looks great. If we do end up going there I shall report back.

    2. Also nearby (I live in Bloomsbury/Holborn):

      LRB (London Review of Books) Cafe which has good cakes and tea but is also small and hard to get a seat in.

      Beas of Bloomsbury which is well-known but has even less tables than the other mentioned places.

      J&A cafe is bit further afield but I like its hidden-away feel.

      They have decent cakes at the Foyles cafe on Charing Cross as well.

      1. Cocomaya near Marble Arch has been recommended many times here, but you can't beat Holborn if you want to be near Waterloo

        35 Connaught St, Paddington, Greater London W2 2, GB

        4 Replies
        1. re: zuriga1

          Cool, thank you. I've sent my friend a link to all suggestions so she can help me choose! LRB intrigues me and Cocomaya looks great too - I've heard about it previously as being a place to go. I'd definitely like to try the full-on afternoon tea there at some point.

          35 Connaught St, Paddington, Greater London W2 2, GB

          1. re: Jen Marzipan

            Cocomaya is also a great choice because, if I remember correctly, they source their teas from Postcard Teas which is by some distance the best tea shop in London (if they did food I'd recommend it in an instant). The only other place of comparison would be TeaSmith but I think a place like Cocomaya would be a much more memorable experience for someone not so familiar with London.

            1. re: emusinthezone

              Cocomaya is now definitely at the top of my asap list, but as it would appear to be more expensive and it's farther out, we are probably going to go for Fleet River - my friend's interest was piqued by 'gigantic and tasty' and it's in an excellent spot.

              35 Connaught St, Paddington, Greater London W2 2, GB

              1. re: Jen Marzipan

                I hope you'll report back about Fleet River. In a few months, we're meeting friends and need a coffee spot in that area to kill some time until we go to dinner.

        2. I posted a while ago about the very subject. I'd stronlgy recommend the two tea rooms in Liberty's department store near Oxford Circus. Better than your average store cafe, but much cheaper than a hotel. Lovely, interesting teas, excellent and well priced cakes and the like (and they do a full-on afternoon tea). Prices are very reasonable, staff friendly and helpful.

          You'll enjoy the store too.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Lord Brazing

            Liberty's has been on my list for a while! I'm a bit of a ruffian though so may not fit in there. However, I thought I'd report back in case anyone reads this because we went to Fleet River and I thought it was great. It was nicely hidden away and had a good buzz without being overcrowded at all. There was plenty of space in the back room and all the windows and doors were open to let the cool breeze in, which felt gorgeous on a warm day. My friend and I both commented on how good the place looked with its mismatched vintagey decor. We both had Redbush tea while her boyfriend opted for a root beer. Cake wise, I went for a slab of banana and walnut and it was excellent. It was moist (being full of bananas) without being heavy or creamy, and the nuts helped firm up the texture and give it a subtle crunch. My friend had a triangle of the bright yellow lemon tart, which looked amazing and reportedly tasted so, but her boyfriend was unable to finish his chocolate and coffee cake because the chocolate frosting was too rich for him.

            Disaster struck in the form of my friend's jetlag kicking in and making her feel really ill towards the end of us being there (she's also not great with dairy and thought maybe there had been too much cream for her to handle in the tart, though it didn't look creamy - so that may be something to consider). I went back to the counter to get her some tap water and I was served instantly by a very friendly barista who I think could tell this water was urgently needed. So, apart from my friend almost passing out, it was otherwise fine - definitely a good place for chilling out in for a while. There were people on laptops and chilling with books, so it's also not an intimidating place to go to alone - worth keeping in mind if you have a couple of hours to kill and need a bolthole.

            1. re: Jen Marzipan

              Thanks for the review...another one for the list! I hope your friend was OK in the end.

              1. re: Jen Marzipan

                Thanks so much for your report. We need to kill some time before dinner after meeting visiting friends at the John Soane Museum in about 3 weeks. This sounds like the perfect spot!

                1. re: zuriga1

                  Cool - I'll be interested to hear what you think as well if you do end up going!

                  I think my friend was starting to feel better by the time I had to go, thank you!

                2. re: Jen Marzipan

                  Nice write-up. Glad to hear your friend's well.
                  Placemark for Fleet River Bakery:

                  Fleet River Bakery
                  71 Lincoln's Inn Fields, England WC2A 3JF, United Kingdom