Tea time at Fortnum & Mason started well…then crashed

Fortnum and Mason in London has been around for a long time; since 1707. Queen Elizabeth even gave them a royal warrant. You will see people at the airport in London with the Tiffany colored Fortnum shopping bags bringing home with them various food items. They also serve afternoon tea. On this occasion, I booked a time in the Diamond Jubilee tea salon at their Piccadilly location. Upon arrival, I was greeted by this beautiful space with live piano.

The table setting and dining room were also very nice.

I went with the all savory menu while my wife had the sweet. I was glad they offered an all savory option as I am more of a savory than sweet person.

The savory tower
the sweet tower

I enjoyed the food and tea. The tea was delicate, smooth and flavorful (sorry I don’t remember the type but I think it was the Queen Elizabeth one). Food-wise, I especially liked the coronation chicken sandwiches which had a slight hint of curry. The problem with this experience was the service. Usually, at tea time, the server will come around to offer you more tea or food. They will ask if you want to try a different tea. In this case, for whatever reason, ours never came by and I had to eventually flag someone down to ask for more of the delicious coronation sandwiches and tea. Its not that they were short staffed, I frequently saw other tables being waited on just fine.

The thing that sealed the deal on the bad service though was at the end. Since our server was no where to be found, I asked another gentleman for the bill and he acknowledged. However, after a while passed, I could see that he neither passed on the message or took initiative to get the bill himself.

When I eventually saw our server, I asked her for the bill, and then watched her serve tables and completely ignore the request. Maybe they didn’t want payment.

On the third attempt, I asked a manager for the check and she did bring it promptly. I explained to her what happened, and she offered to remove the service charge (which is built into the bill in the UK), but I declined. Money does not compensate for a bad experience.

Overall, the setting is lovely and the food is good, but I won’t be back obviously. Even though they have since offered to comp my next tea time, its not what I value; its the experience and hospitality that is key to making people happy, not money or free stuff.

1 thought on “Tea time at Fortnum & Mason started well…then crashed”

  1. Thanks for saving us all from the train wreck of being treated like second class citizens. Sounds like a classic case of old English snobbery. Not acceptable when food and experience is the catalyst for building bridges and making peace everywhere else in this world.

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