Welcome to Scones of the Year 2015 where I announce my Top 11 favourite places to eat scones. This is the London Scone Review’s third annual virtual awards. There was lots of scone eating last year but based on my rating system I’m only including the establishments with the very highest scores. I’m starting the countdown, in date of visiting order, with the Ampersand Hotel, the only establishment to have also been included in Scones of the Year in 2013 and 2014.The Ampersand is one of my favourite cake places, they do different fun, themed afternoon teas throughout the year (we visited for their Science Afternoon Tea) , décor is contemporary and a bit quirky and the food and service are always excellent. The scones just melted in our mouths and their white chocolate scones are my favourites. When we visited we were delighted when Chris Golding, head chef, introduced us to the talented Ji Sun Shin, Head Pastry Chef. (Visited January).
The Andaz Hotel has the WOW factor, serving its afternoon tea in its very decadent, former ballroom, and the food and service is equally impressive. The scones were delicious but what made them stand out was the accompaniments with a fantastic choice of orange marmalade and Strawberry and raspberry jams. The hotel also has a secret Masonic Temple, which I featured in a separate blog post. (Visited January).
It’s a well known secret that the legendary Bettys in Yorkshire is my all time favourite tea rooms, I know they’re outside London, but as I was very lucky in 2015 to make 4 visits how could I not include them? When I visit I usually have their Fat Rascals, their enormous fruit scones with a cute face with cherries for the eyes and almonds for the teeth. On one of the visits I enjoyed a very stylish Lady Betty Afternoon Tea in their original art deco styled Belmont Room, which I feature in a separate blog post. (Visited February, March, August and November).
The Baglioni Hotel offers authentic Italian flavoured afternoon tea with the scones being accompanied with Nutella, which I have to say the combination worked well as its was remarkably tasty. The scones and all the Italian influenced foods made a delightful change from the standard afternoon tea menus and this was one of my favourite scone experiences of the year. BYW they also have the most amazingly comfortable seating. (Visited April).
The Sanderson’s Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea had been on my To Do List for ages and I was delighted that when we visited it certainly lived up to the hype. The themed afternoon tea is all very quirky but what made it stand out on the scone front is that they served both savoury and sweet scones. The savoury scone is served with a creamy, herby butter and the sweet scone had chocolate chips and came with the more traditional clotted cream and jam. (Visited May).
The next visit was to The Goring where we enjoyed a very luxurious afternoon tea. The hotel is very charming, with an understated elegance and a few delightful quirky touches, which I feature in a separate blog post. I was slightly disappointed with the texture of my fruit scone but the plain scone was utterly delicious, and it didn’t detract from enjoying this very special experience. (Visited July).
Afternoon tea at Oakley Court was very special, for starters the gothic house, just outside Windsor on the banks of the River Thames, featured in many Hammer films as well as being Frank-N-Furter’s house in The Rocky Horror Show. The afternoon tea came with a great scone selection. There were three scones, plain, raisin and seasonal (ours was orange), so three times the pleasure. We planned our visit to coincide with Swan Upping, which I wrote a separate blog post about. (Visited July).
Vaults and Gardens in Oxford is outstanding and to date is the only place to score full marks in all categories. Their fruit or plain scones are delicious, humungous and delightfully slightly misshapen. When I visited there was the dilemma of which of the five home made jams to try (I had plum and lemon flavours) and then a further quandary of whether to sit inside admiring their amazing vaulted ceiling or to enjoy the sunshine in their garden with views of the beautiful Radcliffe Camera. (Visited August).
78 Derngate in Northampton is a very special place as it is the only Charles Rennie Mackintosh house in England. Their dining rooms, in the adjacent building served one of my favourite afternoon teas I’ve had as it features both savoury and sweet scones. The savoury cheese and seed scones served with chunks of cheddar cheese and tangy tomato chutney were one of the tastiest savoury scones I’ve had and certainly the best presented. The sweet scones were equally delicious and were accompanied with clotted cream and jam. The other outstanding thing was the excellent service, friendly and attentive. (Visited August).
I do like my themed afternoon teas and the Jumeirah Carlton Tower did a very stylish James Bond tea which was great fun. The scones were huge and delicious and accompanied with clotted cream and jam, the Bond themed cakes were as tasty as they looked amazing and there was music from their resident harpist which made this a wonderful day out. (Visited October).
St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, previously featured in Scones of the Year 2013, and I’m delighted that my recent visit was just as enjoyable. The gothic style hotel has a magical fairy tale quality to it and I always love visiting. The afternoon tea was a real treat and their scones were served with strawberry and apricot preserves, and the thick texture and the excellent quality of their jam made the whole scone eating experience amazing. (Visited October).
Thank you friends for joining me (IRL or virtually) on this scone quest, however there is much more work to do in the coming year and I hope you will continue to enjoy Scones of the Month in 2016.
Until next time…