An offshoot of the Piccadilly authentic, that is Fortnum & Mason with a twist. The trademark eau de nil is there–on velvet seats and leather-based cubicles–however the majestic Sixteenth-century setting in London’s monetary district lends it a fair grander air, as if tea sippers are members of an elite secret society.

The spectacular stone-and-column façade of the Royal Alternate betrays the constructing’s commerce roots. Boutiques sit beneath big arches; the most recent, a mini Fortnum’s, now takes up three store fronts. On the centre of the huge courtyard is a huge almond-shaped bar, a glittering steel oasis ringed by mint-green stools, every pair lit with particular person gold lamps. The bar is bookended by two small seating areas and it virtually feels such as you’re exterior, with gentle pooling by the glass ceiling.

Tea is, in fact, crucial ingredient of the Fortnum’s custom, provided that the model has been producing its personal (and, later, serving it) for about 300 years. However you received’t discover its breakfast mix on the menu right here; as a substitute, go for the Royal Exchange, a lightweight Sri Lankan and Kenyan loose-leaf tea that represents this cool new base, or–higher but–Champagne.

Afternoon-tea stands are introduced down a flight of stone steps from a faraway nook of the courtyard, virtually ‘off stage’; as they’re set down on the desk, it’s clear that is the principle occasion. First up are 5 easy finger sandwiches crammed generously with egg and cress, honey-roasted ham and mustard, cucumber and mint cream cheese, coronation rooster and smoked salmon. Then tender, heat plain and fruit scones are accompanied by clotted cream, strawberry jam and lemon curd–Fortnum’s personal, naturally.

The finale is a trio of patisserie muffins: a tangy red-velvet dice with cream-cheese layers, topped with a cherry-powder crumb and clear droplets that may very well be mistaken for pomegranate seeds; a vanilla-cheesecake sphere in clean white-chocolate casing that sits atop a fragile, buttery biscuit; and a choux bun crammed with vanilla cream and adorned with pastel-pink icing and a rose petal.

Whereas the afternoon tea was undeniably nice, it’s the historic environment that really make the brand new Fortnum’s a worthwhile pit-stop. And regardless of the hushed, unique vibe this providing is brilliantly reasonably priced. Make just like the Metropolis crowd and cease right here for a candy reviver following a day’s exhausting work, then browse the foodie delights within the attractive store.—Leah Craig

Deal with: The Courtyard, The, Royal Exchange, London EC3V 3LR
Worth from: £35, or roughly $44, per particular person

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