Dames Dine Delectably: British Tea + Chinese Noodles

Let it be known that Alan and I are trying to avoid spending frivolously so we can channel it towards more value-for-money experiences like £5 Matilda tickets (Best. Show. Ever. Yes, I have found a new favourite musical to replace Wicked after three years).

We’ve implemented Austerity Week, which involves £9-10 shopping trips to Tesco and the purchase of dubious ham. Because of my on-off low-carb diet, I am constantly restricted by what I can eat and I hate having salad two to three meals in a row. SO… Yes, Austerity Week has been an overall fail.

IN THIS POST

  • sketch | 9 Conduit Street, London W1S 2XG | ££££ | ★★★
  • Vapiano | 90B Southwark Street, London SE1 0FD | £ | ★★★★
  • Baozi Inn | 25 Newport Court, London WC2H 72S | £ | ★★
  • Riding House Cafe | 43-51 Great Titchfield Street, London W1W 7PQ | ££ | ★★

So when we eat at nice places I throw my hands up in the air and do a mini-dance inside. One of the places that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside is sketch, a restaurant that also does the quintessential British tea with a very unique central London spin. (Also it helps that my best friends were awesome and generous and treated Zix and me hahaha THANK YOU.) We came here about two weeks ago.

The entire restaurant has five rooms, one of which is designed by the artist Martin Creed but I don’t really know much about art, so I won’t pretend to be a pretentious dick. The one that we did go to is the Glade, a whimsical woodland-themed dining area where most of its customers were women. It’s not very clear in the above picture but the tree wallpaper in the background? It’s all decoupage, which is a fancy French word for cutting and pasting. It’s also a mother to do, extremely tedious, and successful when, according to Wikipedia, “the ‘stuck on’ appearance disappears and the result looks like a painting.” Which it did. The last time I “did decoupage” was when I was seven. I think I tried to paste together a teddy bear into my journal. I can’t remember.

I LOVE HIGH TEA. High Tea is the bomb and makes me feel like a lady. It would also make me feel like a very poor lady post-tea because each set costs £32 and what you see in the picture above? £64. S$128. I’m so glad my best friends are gonna be rich bankers/architects. Thankfully I’m not the only person who thinks it’s expensive – just read the reviews on Tripadvisor and forums. BUT, it is delicious.

On Tier 1, you’ll find the pistachio curd + raspberry puree (?) + raspberries + champagne jelly. A surprisingly yummilicious combination — I make no pretenses that I am not a food writer, don’t judge.

There’s also the pink macaroon with rose petal. I had one at the Covent Garden Lauduree which sucked cos it was felt like it lao-honged or something, not like the ones I had in Paris (good grief I spent like 5 euros a day eating macaroons…) Anyway my foodie friend Nattie says Lauduree isn’t good so I shall take her word for it. This in comparison was fluffy and nice, wish there was more filling BUT THE ROSE PETAL was such a strange fun eating experience. I could be a cow and eat flowers all day!

Tier 2 had the strawberry and vanilla tartlet and blueberry eclair (not bad – plus the filling is a lavender purply colour which makes it really funny to watch it ooze out after your first bite). But commendations for the yuzu and macademia tartlet, which looks like an egg but tastes like lemon curd. Yummers. Oh and the salted homemade caramel – nobody can beat the trifecta of taste explosions: salt, chocolate, caramel.

Tier 3 were the sandwiches! I mentioned that I never got why there were cucumber sandwiches (served with ricotta and asparagus in this incarnation) cos I can’t care to have them. This was met with a somewhat violent reaction by Zix and Xiu who proclaimed that cucumber sandwiches are the best part and someone said she’d even save it for last cos it was her favourite. Okay… Also couldn’t be bothered with the pastrami-looking wrap (ham, butter and Dijon mustard).

BUT the smoked salmon + Jacob’s cream (who’s Jacob??) + roe sandwich? So good. Oh and the egg mayo + quail egg + caviar combi was DIVINEEEEEE.

No high tea set is complete without the scones.

I love clotted cream and jam!!!!!! I wish they weren’t sultana scones but raspberry/cranberry/berry in general. Still, the scones were warm, had good texture – basically the sort of carbs you don’t mind putting in your body haha.

There were also marshmallows but whatever. For drinks I had a pot of Whole Rose Buds tea. I definitely don’t know how to describe tea, besides the fact that it tasted… rosy without being too strong.

Xiu also got us a chocolate tart.

Sorry the photo’s so blurry. It was a bit too rich for my liking but hey, no chocoholic would be displeased.

Happy girls’ day out! Yup, we left all the boys at home. Alan joined Marcus for £6 Thai food at Siam Central.

“Look at me, I’m sucha baller lady!”

Oh I forgot to mention the bathrooms.

You can see the egg-shaped domes in the mirrors. Now imagine 20 or so of these cubicles clumped together. It’s like a scene from Prometheus with a dash of Dali. These artist types. And when you enter each cubicle, this voice starts counting out random numbers over the sound of crickets or something. Super duper weird. But worth a trip entirely just to see it haha.

Not everything we eat has to be fancy-schmancy or I’d be driving myself to the poorhouse. I don’t really have photos of the meals Alan’s cooked for me (I assist!!!!) but they’re decent ^_^ Last December, just before we left for our Centroamerica adventure, he made me steak and scallops and served it up with some awesome bottle of beer that tasted like moscato.

Anyway I digress.

Xiu brought us to Vapiano for our Claire outing. I was kinda apprehensive. This was an international chain, with stores in the States, a bunch of European cities, India, etc, you get my drift. Even MacDonald’s and KFC don’t stay the same and I was worried it’d end up really bad. Thankfully, no! Not at the London Southbank branch anyway.

SALAMI E RICOTTA CON RUCOLA: rocket, pine nuts, salami, ricotta cheese,
white wine

RAVIOLI CON CARNE: ravioli with Bolognese filling, cream, tomato sauce

Super liked the above cos it had a spicy kick to it. What I loved too is that they had all these plants of basil leaves and stuff around and when the chefs served the dishes to you, they’d pluck these straight off the pots. It felt so fresh. We also had a triple-cheese pizza but clearly that isn’t the restaurant’s forte. Each of the pasta dishes was £8.75. We shared that and the pizza among four and after that I started food comaing, partially cos carbs really do tire you out, methinks.

In other Atkins-violations news, I also had (half) a bowl of noodles at Baozi Inn in Chinatown. I think I begged to go in cos I smelled the chili and dreamt of Han Dynasty back in Philly. Its dandan mian is indisputably the best in the world haha. Baozi Inn was so-so, but I do miss spicy food. The spicy Sichuan beef noodle didn’t taste ma enough… 🙁 Alan’s zhajiang mian was slightly better, but still nothing to shout about.

Spicy Sichuan beef noodle

Zhajiang mian

To complete the carbo featurette… We went to the Riding House Cafe to try out their brunch. Also not worth the hype in my opinion. The Egg Benedict, for example, was £5 (S$10). Give me Philadelphia’s Sabrina’s or Tap House any time.

Egg(s) Benedict

I thought Alan’s buttermilk pancakes were a better deal (£6.50). But options are limited when you’re trying to lose weight – couldn’t really eat this… 🙁

We have more food adventures at Michelin-star restaurants (prix fixe £20-30 deals!) next week, which means we’ll have to be more prudent from now till then. Haha. Which we kinda did for Matilda. The musical has been touted as the British musical’s saviour. I loved the Roald Dahl book but I didn’t think it’d live up to the hype. Still, it was £5. The musical is largely sold out – like how Book of Mormon is on Broadway, and will be in September when it comes to the West End – but the producers/theatre are/is nice enough to reserve 8 tickets for the most fervent of fans every show.

Here we are at 7 AM! I thought we’d be the first but there were four others ahead of us… Any later and we might have missed the window of opportunity. The lady who was first in line reached at 6am. Lol.

Still, it was the best 3 hours we could have ever spent waiting. Matilda got as many laughs from me as it did tears. The choreography / production value blew my mind, especially School Song. I don’t think there are any videos of it yet but it was crazily good, and even more astounding is the fact that the cast is predominantly children!!! Never doubt the young and what they can do.

One song came on and I couldn’t stop my tears… Enough talk, here it is:

Buy the tickets ahead of time if you’re in London for a short period, but if not, everyone should definitely queue up for this.

Anyway, we’re off to Brighton for a day trip! Ciao!

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