As you squeeze your way through hordes of tourists at Piccadilly Circus, slightly hidden (mainly by bodies) is the Criterion restaurant, which I was fortunate enough to be invited to with ‘The Tea Ladies’. It’s the most beautiful room, quite amazing that it’s a step away from ‘human statues’ and foreign exchange students.
I stepped from daylight into a soft twilight, I loved the muted lighting. I spotted my friends who were seated in soft pink armchairs as we waited for our table. Bang on time we were led to a big round table which was beautifully set. The staff were quite attentive but not overly so, which is a good thing when you simply want to eat, drink and chat. The tea was very good, the sandwiches lovely but my favourite was the savoury scones served with chive creme fraiche. I don’t like sweet things so I’m always more interested in the sandwiches. You get a good assortment of cakes and everyone seemed very happy with the food.
The downside of the Criterion is the fact that they seem to hassle you a lot. After about an hour and a half they started to aggressively tidy the table, in other words bog off! This is not good, as we spend a lot of money when we sit down to take tea. The sandwiches may look small but the price tag is always quite large and I think it’s disrespectful to start pushing customers away once you know they are going to have to settle the bill. It’s not the most peaceful venue to have tea in, but the actual tea was good. Not the best, but not the worst. We staggered out, well rolled would be a better word, really stuffed with our eyes unused to the daylight. I felt a bit like I’d been to a Saturday matinee. I fought my way to the bus stop thinking I really love London, what could be nicer, a posh afternoon tea and then tickets to see ‘Let The Right One In’ at The Royal Court Theatre!