Tipsy Tea @ Mr Foggs of Mayfair, Mayfair
“We discovered Mr Oliver floating across the sea,” proclaimed the waiter in the red-trimmed waistcoat. The tinkling tea cups hushed as the waiter gestured to a swarthy man sat at the piano in the corner. “He was on a life raft playing the piano. The finest pianist north of the equator. Then as now, Mr Oliver was fantastically drunk.” It was only half two and we were on our way too.
My date was “LB”, a Cambridge-educated brunette working in politics. LB was a TB (a “total babe”), too good for me, and we were sat in Mr Fogg’s of Mayfair working our way through a champagne tea. On an alley off Berkeley Square, Mr Fogg’s is a colonialist cornucopia of desert hats and stuffed crocodiles, Raj-era maps and tiger skins on oak-paneled walls.
Part of the Inception Group of Sloaney haunts that includes Bunga Bunga, the clientele was a mixture of posh girls treating themselves on a weekend, and tourists pursuing English tea with a twist. Plenty to look at and plenty to chat about, and – with Mr Oliver tinkling the jazz standards – Fogg’s is a venue with a sense of humour as well as style.
We were there for the “Tipsy Tea”, £38 a head for a traditional tea with a choice of either a gin or champagne tea-based cocktail. There was enough food for three: homely smoked salmon, egg and cucumber sandwiches, mille-feuilles cream cakes, moist canelles and macaroons. And two generous teapots of cocktails.
I took the “Belvoir Castle”: a Jasmine tea infused Hendrick’s with rose liqueur, pomegranate juice and topped with Veuve Clicquot. Not a drink for alpha males. LB plumped for a gin tea, the “Woburn Abbey”, English Breakfast steeped with Hendrick’s and mixed with crème de bergamot, lemon juice and bee pollen sugar. A couple of dandies on the table next to us headed straight to the bar for some traditional cocktails – ones they announced as excellent.
Call me strange but I’ve never found egg sandwiches to be the cornerstone of a hot date. At one point, I leaned into the two girls sat next to me and asked them if they’d want to be taken there on a date. They giggled because they’d just been discussing it. “Date no. 5,” one of them replied. But with the lights dimmed, I can well imagine it’s a very different story in the evening. And no question it’s one heck of a more fun atmosphere than your average formulaic Mayfair bar.
It’s a plate of cakes – and the two cocktail teas we had were on the sweet side too. That means enough sugar to kick start diabetes, not to mention induce awkward date yawning once the rush subsides. But if you know your date well enough to know they’d love a tea date, then this sure beats a bland hotel and an un-tipsy tea.