Cream Tea @ V&A - a few questions

Old Aug 2nd, 2019, 12:37 PM
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Cream Tea @ V&A - a few questions

A few years ago we wanted to have refreshments at the V&A but didn't -- too intimidated by crowds at counter (what DOES one order?) and lack of seating.
I wanted to soak in the ambiance, not chat with some unknown table mate about her grandson in Idaho.

Now, a new chance to do it right..so I've done the basic research:

I know I'll have the cream tea (scone, clotted cream, jam) but which tea -- English Breakfast or Earl Grey?
ALSO, my big question, what time is likely to be least crowded?
I'm guessing not "elevenses" or lunch or 4pm tea time or ...

Most on-line photos I've viewed have shown the Gamble Room so that's probably the largest?
But the Morris Room is perhaps most desired?

I do appreciate your advice and I'm sure it seems like I'm overthinking this hour of my life!
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Old Aug 2nd, 2019, 02:37 PM
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'Traditional' British tea times (whatever those are) are irrelevant. Think of it as a museum snack bar to feed the thousands of visitors from all over the earth that visit the V&A every day. I would expect lunch time to be busiest but like any food outlet in very busy places, crowds come in waves that may be difficult to predict.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2019, 03:02 PM
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OK -- the rooms are very pretty but it IS essentially a cafeteria with decent food. The crowds ebb and flow all day long. There is no magic time. It will not be an 'afternoon tea' experience in any way. You can get a scone, clotted cream and pot of tea -- but it is still self service on a tray like any cafeteria. If it was me, I'd pop in to the three rooms just to see them (they are gorgeous) . . . and then leave the V&A and have an afternoon tea at Muriel's Kitchen next to South Kens tube station https://www.murielskitchen.co.uk
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Old Aug 2nd, 2019, 05:21 PM
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I think a scone and clotted cream at the V&A is just fine, and as much as I want to eat in the afternoon. However, if you want a full "tea", in the Morris room, with guaranteed seating, you can have that any Friday with a reservation.

Go here and scroll down: https://www.vam.ac.uk/info/va-cafe/

I drink coffee with my scone so can't help with the tea, although I would think the Earl Grey would be a better choice for the afternoon. Breakfast tea is called that for a reason.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2019, 01:13 AM
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Itís always busy there and despite the beauty of some of the rooms, itís a museum cafe so not really a ďsoak up the ambianceĒ place.

My experience is that you send one of the party to grab an empty table if you can find one, then the other goes to buy the food.

Itís really a pit stop for museum visitors rather than an experience in itself. Iíve never known it not be busy, even mid-morning on a weekday.

As for which tea to drink, which do you prefer? Sturdy English Breakfast or scented Earl Grey?

So: enjoy the rooms, but donít try to make it a big tea experience - itís just a cafe, although an attractive one with decent food.

Oh! Unless you do the £30 tea mentioned above, which you need to book. But it sounds like thatís more than you want.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2019, 05:44 AM
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Back in the 1900’s (!) a friend & I had afternoon tea at the St Ermin’s Hotel - it was delightfully excessive but what I remember most is a large, frilly wedding party all dressed in lavenders.
Have often wondered if it inspired the Bridget Jones parental wedding scene

A less excessive tea was had at The Orangery on a later trip, but If you’re only after the cream tea, Think I’d aim for @2pm, lower my expectations and hope for the best. Good luck.

Last edited by VonVan; Aug 3rd, 2019 at 06:15 AM.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2019, 05:57 AM
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I can’t imagine only having English Breakfast tea and Earl Grey as the tea offerings. This is England, there are always numerous choices. Why not try something different. My favorite is Darjeeling but Assam is another interesting tea.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2019, 06:11 AM
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Scone and Malbec at V/A. Nice William Morris print tray. The scone was really delicious. Wine too. Thin,aristocrat 🍹
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Old Aug 3rd, 2019, 06:20 AM
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I'll have what Thin's having...make that Prosecco though.

Thanks to all who posted helpful info!
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Old Aug 3rd, 2019, 07:35 AM
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Feb: There are a bunch of cafes in the V&A. Most are just typical museum cafeteria food. The Friday tea thursdaysd linked is different. It is sit down, in a lovely room. Reservation only. The menu is curated by a food historian. We had the proseco, too, although I'm pretty sure that isn't historical.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2019, 08:17 AM
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Ear Grey is quite a strong, distinctive flavour.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2019, 11:41 AM
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>>There are a bunch of cafes in the V&A. .<<

Not sure what you consider 'a bunch' . . . but not really. There is the main 'Main' cafeteria-style cafe (the one mostly discussed in this thread) with the three rooms for seating and the set Friday afternoon teas in the Morris Room. (the special afternoon tea makes Fridays even more crowded in the Main cafe since 1/3 of the seating is set aside for the set tea). There is the small outdoor garden cafe in the central courtyard. And the newer Courtyard cafe inside the Exhibition Road piazza. (haven't been to the new one so have no idea re the food there.)
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Old Aug 3rd, 2019, 12:55 PM
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The main cafeteria also has two plain "corridor" seating extensions if you can't find space in the historic rooms. (You don't have to worry about winding up in someone's photo there, lol.)
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Old Aug 3rd, 2019, 06:30 PM
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>>You don't have to worry about winding up in someone's photo there, lol.<<

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Old Aug 3rd, 2019, 08:52 PM
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I'm a big tea drinker and Earl Grey is the only tea I dislike. It's got a strong scent and is quite weak with a (to me) smoky flavour. I like Irish Breakfast and Darjeeling but if you are not sure, I'd ask for English Breakfast. It's a basic, nice tea that is often served when there are only one or two options. If you are there with someone else, you could ask for a 'pot of tea for two', usually available but not always. Or get two different teas, in pots for one and try them both.

My guess is between 12 and 2 would be the most crowded but it's always been busy when we've visited.

Kay
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Old Aug 4th, 2019, 06:31 AM
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Itís always crowded but Iíve never not been able to find a table. In addition to scones, there is a really nice french patesserie counter as well now. I like assam - earl grey is a bit too floral for my taste. English breakfast will be everywhere and is always a safe bet.

if you did decide you wanted to try the full afternoon tea experience then I recommend the Alice In Wonderland themed tea at The Sanderson - itís the best of all the afternoon teas Iíve tried by quite a long way and of course youíd have reserved seating there as you pre-book.
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Old Aug 4th, 2019, 07:40 AM
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Originally Posted by janisj
>>There are a bunch of cafes in the V&A. .<<

Not sure what you consider 'a bunch' . . . but not really. There is the main 'Main' cafeteria-style cafe (the one mostly discussed in this thread) with the three rooms for seating and the set Friday afternoon teas in the Morris Room. (the special afternoon tea makes Fridays even more crowded in the Main cafe since 1/3 of the seating is set aside for the set tea). There is the small outdoor garden cafe in the central courtyard. And the newer Courtyard cafe inside the Exhibition Road piazza. (haven't been to the new one so have no idea re the food there.)
Okay, maybe three is a bunch to me. It seemed like a bunch. We searched all over looking for the Morris Room and kept seeing cafeterias. The Friday tea, as I keep reiterating, is different...
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Old Aug 4th, 2019, 08:13 AM
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The Morris room is part of the cafeteria - there are three historic rooms in a row, you have to go through the Gamble room to reach it.
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Old Aug 4th, 2019, 09:09 AM
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As thursdaysd says - if you were in the 'cafeteria' the Morris Room was right there, as were the Gamble and Potnyer rooms.
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Old Aug 4th, 2019, 10:38 AM
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There is no cafeteria adjacent to the Gamble, Poynter, or Morris rooms at the V/A.

There is a corridor with various food and beverage kiosks for your selection. Some kiosks sell hot food, some tea & scones, wine, some sell salads and pastries.

Beyond the corridor is another seating area. This area leads to the staircase and the toilets. This seating area is not decorated like the other dining rooms.

After you fill your tray, you head to a cashier who takes your money.

Thin,aristocrat 🧻
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