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Becoming a Sloane Ranger at Gallery Mess, Sloane Square, London:
When I first moved to London the term ‘Sloane Ranger’ was just being popularised. Diana had married Charles and GB was on a patriotic high. The economy was doing pretty well, house prices were rising and Mrs Thatcher was PM. Peter York who was largely responsible for popularising the term ‘Sloane Ranger’ was the Style Editor of Harpers & Queen (apparently he also created the term ‘foodie’). Of course, fresh out of left wing Sussex University, I eschewed any connection with Sloane Square and the King’s Road and moved myself to Kentish Town where I lived in a flat share over a junk shop.
Older and (maybe) wiser it now seems to have much less of an edge. The REALLY rich and famous don’t live in Chelsea any more and the uber-trendy shops at the Worlds End of the Kings Road have closed or perhaps just sold out to commercialism. Now, it’s a great place to shop and relax with friends, less frantic than Oxford Street and with a wider range of shops than Knightsbridge. And for those who shop, there needs to be tea.
That’s where Gallery Mess comes in. Afternoon tea is perfectly adapted to the kind of shopper who might be found in Peter Jones across the road or perhaps window shopping at Hugo Boss or Tiffany. It’s NOT the kind of afternoon tea that you might get in a hotel in Park Lane. Far more restrained, this is a tea to have before dinner or after lunch, not instead of them. And, it’s priced accordingly.
Expect 3 savoury treats – we had a tiny finger sandwich (without crusts), half an egg roll garnished with half a quail egg and a rather lovely miniature smoked salmon bagel. Dainty mouthfuls, canape sized treats.
Then scones with jam and cream. Ours were served warm but arrived alongside the main tea tray, which meant by the time we came to eat them, they’d cooled down. Finally three cake treats – a little fairy cake, a macaron and small square of chocolate cake.
Tea arrived in a perspex pot and was fine, though we had to ask for a refill.
Everything worked together nicely. I hadn’t checked the pricing before I arrived but, it’s something of a steal at £11.50 per person or £22.00 with a glass of champagne. And, as such it isn’t really comparable with the full afternoon teas you might have in a London hotel where you should either skip lunch or plan not to eat dinner. The quality of everything we were served was perfect, the service perhaps got four stars rather than five.
An ingenious offering from Rhubarb Catering, who also provide the food at the Albert Hall and who invited me to tea at Henley (woops, showing distinctly Sloaney tendencies there!). I could happily see myself treating myself to this mini-tea after a hard day’s shopping without ANY guilt at all.
Duke of York’s HQ