Tag Archives: Bea’s of Bloomsbury

Bea’s of Bloomsbury, 44 Theobald’s Road, WC1X 8NW

Since when did cupcakes and afternoon tea become so trendy?   My earliest experience of afternoon tea was at the Edinburgh zoo tea room and Bettys in Harrogate – all scones, doilies and blue rinses; and not a single skinny jean in sight.  However, like the denim shirt, what was once considered naff can become high fashion, and in London cupcakes and tea are like soooo hot right now. 

I recently loved afternoon tea at the Wolseley, and at the Bath Spa; and I’d love to try it at the Ritz, the Dorchester and Fortnum & Mason.  But a little less Miss Marple, and easier on the wallet, is Bea’s of Bloomsbury, half way between Holborn and Chancery Lane. 

I have to say I have a savoury rather than a sweet tooth.  Like Joey from Friends, the sandwich is probably my favourite food group, and I’d take a cheese board over pudding any day.  That’s not to say I don’t like chocolate – far from it, especially at 4pm during my working week – but I don’t tend to crave sweet things.

However, walking into Bea’s, you can’t fail to notice how pretty everything looks.   Pink swirly cupcakes, huge plates of giant macaroons and meringues, sweets, biscuits.  Sugar heaven but not at all twee – there’s no pink china or doilies (shame actually!).  We sat down and ordered cute little pots of tea and tiered treats

Starting from the bottom, the trays were filled with delicious scones (served with clotted cream and jam), marshmallows, tiny brownies and shortbread, then up to wildly adorned cupcakes (LOVED the be-glittered ones!) and macaroons.  The scones were lovely – perfect with jam and tea – and the cupcakes were amazingly soft and moist and incredibly sickly sweet and covered in gloops of sugary icing but still yum yum yum.   As I said, my fantasty-island tier would include little cucumber and cheese sandwiches, but this was bloody good.  Not used to sweet things, and seemingly born with an inability to stop eating when full, I managed to leave feeling a little sick from the sugar rush, which left me slumped in my chair with only the promise of impending white wine to wake me up.

I think I’ve read somewhere about poor service and I have to say the staff weren’t the friendliest I’ve ever met, but nothing outrageous, and sadly in London trendy venues can be the victims of their own popularity and forget to treat customers like kings and queens (as they always do at somewhere like the Wolseley).  Although the food is a treat so the service should be the same really.  It wouldn’t put me off going back though – it is the PERFECT place to take your sweet-toothed friends, or your mum, or visitors to London who haven’t realised that tea and cupcakes are trendy again, an alternative date venue, and a gluttonous alternative to wine-filled sessions with girlfriends.

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Moctezuma exhibition @ The British Museum (http://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/all_current_exhibitions/moctezuma.aspx)

My Tazzie friend Pip works at the British Museum and invited me and Grumpo de Grump to see the Moctezuma exhibition.  I’ve lived in London for 6 years now and have been to the British Museum woefully few times, ridiculous because it’s absolutely gorgeous – a Roman-looking building in the heart of Bloomsbury with a central court designed by Norman Foster.  

The exhibition is about Moctezuma, the last chief of the Aztecs before the Spanish came to Mexico.  You are led through a series of rooms which start by giving information on how they lived, with impressive carvings, the Aztec sun stone, eagle murals, religious artefacts and Cities of Gold-style palaces.   I particularly liked the gold jewelry (good replicas in the shop after – hello christmas presents) and jade- and turquoise-embossed god masks.  I would have liked to know more about the human sacrificing and ripping-hearts-out-of-chests bit, but I realise my interest is very tabloid/late night TV, and maybe would distract from the main point.

And you get to the main point suddenly, the somber music playing throughout hinting at what is to come.  The well designed set leads you through Aztec history to where it was all destroyed.  The Spanish under Cortes invaded Mexico in the 16th century and did what colonialists did the world over – brought disease, massacred thousands, pillaged artefacts and gold, destroyed religious symbols and replaced them with their own.  

I remembered the amazing murals in the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City depicting the torture of the Aztec chiefs and through work I did for Mexico Creativo I know that Mexico’s indigenous population is still suffering from discrimination and the eradication of its culture.  At least you can still visit the ruins of this great civilisation in Mexico, and I seem to remember you could buy a sun stone painting on every street corner.

If you want to see the rest of the museum, I’ve heard that the curators are incredibly knowledgeable and do a sort of best ofguided tour  which takes in 10 or so of the highlights for £8.  I’m the sort of person that can only do about 1 hour in a museum before feeling like a sit down/beer (is this bad?), and like others I’m not one for reading all the commentary, so this sort of guided, focused tour would suit me well.  My friend Rach said the tour was fantastic and recommends Bea’s of Bloomsbury afterwards for tea and cupcakes, or you could do a short walk to Chinatown for some  duck’s tongue and beer (have promised Pip not to mention where we went after which was FANTASTIC but which needs to remain a secret so we can still book a table!).