Afternoon Tea Review: BB Bakery Bus Tour

In late May I arrived in London to visit my partner who is currently based here on a short term work-related transfer. This is my first international voyage, and has so far been an experience that has evoked many different emotions for me. I must admit that the long haul flight from Australia wasn’t particularly thrilling, however I am excited to be embarking on a new experience, and even more excited about enjoying high tea in the afternoon tea capital of the world- London!

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Venue:
In April, the BB Bakery in Covent Garden began offering their usual afternoon tea on board an iconic red double-decker bus. The bus takes guests for a tour around London’s most popular tourist attractions. As a first time traveller to London and a lover of afternoon tea, as soon as I saw this advertised I booked it straight away. I couldn’t think of a better way to view the sights of London then to do it on board a double decker bus, all the while enjoying the delightful afternoon tea treats that the BB bakery has to offer.
The inside of the tour bus is stunning. There are these gorgeous red and white booths, and the tables are decked out with scrumptious looking afternoon tea treats. Each person had a beautiful little china plate to put their food on. However for safety reasons, the amount of crockery available is limited.

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Service:
The host was a delightful Frenchman by the name of Jean-Philippe. He was very friendly, jovial and accommodated the requests of all guests on board. Before the tour commenced, Jean-Philippe welcomed all guests on board the bus and provided us with a description of the food that was on offer before promptly taking our tea and coffee orders. He also joking informed us that at any time we could request for the driver to slow down.

Food:
I was offered the vegetarian afternoon tea, while my partner enjoyed the classic non vegetarian option. Staff remembered my dietary requirements and there were no issues, which is something that I always appreciate. There are also gluten free and vegan options available.

The food looked deliciously appetising, and it was beautifully presented. It tasted superb and you could tell that it was 100% freshly prepared. My guess is that it probably came straight from their flagship bakery in Covent Garden.
My vegetarian savoury tier included: a cream cheese sandwich, a vegetarian quiche (which was absolutely amazing!) a cheese sandwich, a cheese and salad sandwich and a cheese and salad blini. My partner received a cream cheese sandwich, two ham and cheese sandwiches, a salmon blini, and a quiche. The bread had a beautiful freshly baked smell to it, and the fillings were ample.
The sweets tier included: a pecan brownie, a mouth watering petite lemon meringue tart, cupcakes (mine had strawberry frosting), a lemon macaron, a fresh berry fruit tart and a French scone. The French scone was interesting. It reminded me more of a sticky bun, and there was no jam or clotted cream to accompany the scone, which made it difficult to eat. I would have preferred the option to spread some fruit preserve and cream on it and eat it like a traditional scone. However, this is a minor criticism as the food was essentially faultless.

You are given an ample amount of food and I can guarantee that you won’t be leaving hungry. In fact, after working our way through the two tier stand, Jean-Philippe came around and offered us more food. This is when we received our French scone and a lemon flavoured macaron. At the end of the tour we were given a gorgeous pink take away box for any food that we didn’t manage to fit in.

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Drinks were served in these gorgeous BB bakery travel mugs, and were a fabulous idea. There are also cup holders in the booth tables, and we were each given a small bottle of freshly squeezed orange juice at the beginning of the tour. The last thing you want is to be drinking tea from a tea cup and saucer and having it spill everywhere while the bus is moving! Initially, the thought of having afternoon tea on a moving vehicle without seatbelt restraints seemed daunting, however the BB Bakery were well and truly prepared when they began running this bus tour service.

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Overall Experience:
I absolutely recommend this tour to anyone travelling to London. Even if you are only planning a short trip, this is the best way to enjoy what London has to offer. In an hour and a half, you get to indulge in some scrumptious and freshly prepared sweet and savoury treats from a popular UK bakery, while checking out some the most popular tourist attractions in London. Below is a tour map; and as you can see, the bus tour takes guests around the most popular tourist attractions in London Town.

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I was absolutely impressed with the venue, the food, the service, and the overall experience of the BB Bakery bus afternoon tea tour. I highly recommend this tour to travellers, or even to locals looking for a great way to celebrate a friend’s birthday, or for a fun afternoon out. The experience has definitely been one of the highlights of my trip to London thus far.

Special thanks to the BB Bakery for allowing me to use their beautiful photographs. For the purposes of this review, poor iPhone quality images just won’t do!

The BB Bakery Bus Tour runs twice a day from Monday to Friday at 3pm and 5:30pm.
On weekends the tour runs three times a day at 12:30pm, 3pm and 5:30pm.
Afternoon Tea is priced at £45 per person.
Bookings are Essential.
Phone Number: 020 7237 3392
Email: bbbus@bbbakery.co.uk
Bakery Address: 6-7 Chandos Place, Covent Garden. London WC2N 4HU

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Mother’s Day High Tea at The Melbourne Hotel

On Sunday I took my mother to The Melbourne Hotel in the heart of the Perth CBD. This was my second high tea experience at The Melbourne Hotel, and after being so impressed the first time I thought it would be lovely to take my mum there on Mother’s Day. My grandfather used to frequent The Melbourne Hotel quite often in the early 1980’s so it was an extra special experience for my mother.

Venue:
Located on the corner of Hay Street and Milligan Street in Perth, The Melbourne Hotel is one of Perth’s oldest and most iconic hotels. From the outside, the hotel has a lovely heritage appeal, and the decor inside the restaurant is simple, yet elegant, and includes arched mirrors, decorative ceilings, and chandeliers.

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The table settings were decorated in a very simple manner. White table cloths and floral pattern tea ware. Nothing out of the ordinary for a hotel high tea.

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Service:
As soon as we were seated, two glasses of sparking wine arrived, and two minutes later the food arrived. It wasn’t until about 30 minutes into the sitting that were actually offered a choice of tea or coffee. I would have preferred to have been offered tea before the food arrived, which is what normally happens. The wait staff appeared to be rushed off their feet, and I think they may have been slightly unprepared, because none of the tables had teaspoons on them! Having said that, the staff were very pleasant and quite obliging. The only problem I encountered was that one particular staff member wasn’t very fluent in English which made communication difficult.

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Food:
I have to say that unfortunately this time around the food wasn’t as good as my first experience at The Melbourne Hotel. I think the this time the food was more contemporary, where as last time it was quite traditional. Instead of finger sandwiches, we received open sandwiches with the fillings on top of the bread.
The varieties included traditional egg and sun dried tomato, red capsicum and olive. Both fillings were quite enjoyable, and the bread was fresh with a light crunch. Also on the savoury tier were two petite pastries with a mushroom filling. I personally didn’t enjoy mine, however my mother said that she enjoyed hers.
The scones were on the top tier and were similar to the scones from the first experience in that they included a slice of strawberry between the raspberry preserve and the clotted cream. I think it looks quite creative and visually appealing, however if you’re not into strawberries you probably won’t appreciate it. The scone itself tasted artificial and had more of a cake like texture. I would have preferred a fresh and more traditional scone. Sometimes less is more.
The sweets tier was certainly a highlight. We had two macarons, one lemon and the other chocolate and pistachio, two delicious profiteroles covered in decadent Belgian chocolate, and two creme brûlées. There were also two pies, which at first glance we thought were savoury quiche. My mother and I didn’t enjoy these at all. My mother described it as a Christmas pie/tart, and to me it tasted like a fruit mince pie infused with cheese. It was strange and I don’t think it belong on the plate. For drinks, we both had the sparkling wine which had a pleasant sweetness to it, and for tea we had our usual English Breakfast.

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Overall Experience:
The ambience was lovely, and the soft music playing in the background was appropriate for Mother’s Day. It wasn’t too busy or noisy which made it pleasant. Unfortunately, I have to say that my high tea experience at The Melbourne Hotel this time was no where near as wonderful as it was the last time. The previous experience was close to flawless and I wish I had reviewed that one instead. This time around I feel that the food was disappointing, with my mother stating that it was not the best high tea she’s had. Here is a photo from the last high tea:

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Regardless of my seemingly negative experience, I would still recommend The Melbourne Hotel because I know from the first experience that this place can in fact execute a really delightful high tea. It was obvious that the wait staff were struggling under pressure, but it was Mother’s Day after all.

The Melbourne Hotel
High Tea is served on Saturday and Sunday between 1pm – 4pm.
$39 for Classic High Tea
$59 for Sparkling
Bookings are Essential.
Phone: (08) 9320 3333
Address: 942 Hay Street (Corner Milligan Street), Perth.