Fancy restaurants are going to the wall. Could this be the perfect time to open a tearoom?

Orange Pekoe: 3 White Hart Lane, London SW13, tel: 020 8876 6070

So it has come to this. Reviewing a tearoom. What is the world coming to? Its senses? Because if this crisis doesn't bring back the tearooms of yore, then I don't know what will. We don't want Burgundy and foie gras, we want a nice cuppa and a scone.

As if they could see this whole thing coming, Marianna Hadjigeorgiou and Achilleas Agridiotis have knitted together an idyllic little tearoom on a sunny riverside street corner in villagey Barnes, south-west London. Walls are lined with glossy tea canisters, while a marble-topped wooden counter is laden with cake stands and glorious-looking Konditor & Cook creations under a romantic chandelier. Tucked in behind are three little rooms with white brick walls, wooden tables, kitsch tea cosies and darling little floral cups and saucers set on wooden panels as if caught mid-throw.

The simple, no-nonsense food runs to salads, house-made pies, pâté and cheese platters, cakes and scones, eggy breakfast options, and a vast array of made-to-order sandwiches. I order two sarnies on doorstopper-thick wholemeal bloomer – one of moist, hand-carved Cypriot lounza ham and good cheddar (£4.50), the other of moist, lightly smoky salmon and lettuce (£5.10). Both are a million miles from the over-refrigerated, overpackaged high-street strain.

Less successful is a bowl of minestrone soup (£4.70) that isn't canned, but tastes as if it is, and a dull, solid wedge of cold chicken, asparagus and ham pie (£7.50). Looking on the bright side – as we all must – this just leaves more room for cake and scones. Hurrah!

A fruit scone comes with a little bowl of good jam and a big dollop of crusty clotted cream, for £2. It is, quite simply, a beautiful thing; fresh and light, with none of the nasty bicarb aftertaste that has marred my last nine-trillion scones. A slice of home-made walnut and coffee cake (£3) also has a fine, moist crumb, without the gratuitous whipped cream or fashionable high-rise icing that ruins most contemporary baking.

And the tea? Having won the Time Out Award for London's Best Tea Room 2008, nobody here is about to toss a teabag into a mug any time soon. Indeed, water temperature and infusing times are particular to each tea, and tea leaves are removed before serving to maintain a consistent tea strength; all intelligent signs of respect for the only beverage that can save this nation from despair.

When I suggest Darjeeling, the manager frowns. "Will you be taking milk?" She recommends a feistier Ceylon, which soon arrives in a fat-bellied pot (£3.50), beautifully brewed, clear and harmonious, with hints of vanilla and smoke.

I believe there is coffee here, too, but that's not quite the point, is it? It was caffeine-fuelled, soy-milk latte-sippers who got us into this mess in the first place. It is tea, and tearooms such as this, that will help us get through it.

Score: 14/20

Scores 1-9 stay home and cook 10-11 needs help 12 ok 13 pleasant enough 14 good 15 very good 16 capable of greatness 17 special, can't wait to go back 18 highly honourable 19 unique and memorable 20 as good as it gets

Orange Pekoe: 3 White Hart Lane, London SW13, tel: 020 8876 6070

Breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea daily. Unlicensed.

Around £25 for two for lunch; £6.50pp for tea and cake

The way we were: room with a brew

By Kate Burt

In the 1950s, Lyons teashops were a high-street institution. With the need to blank out postwar gloom, but little money with which to do so, the British masses flocked to Lyons for a cup of tea, an affordable snack and a vital dose of escapism.

Having opened its first branch in 1894, the Lyons teashop chain was followed in 1909 by the Lyons Corner House, a cross between a food hall and a modern shopping mall. The scale was immense: each Corner House was spread over several floors with different restaurant styles on each – including the first Wimpy bars. Ground floors featured musical entertainment and a food hall, selling items served in the cafeteria, which was the heart of each Corner House.

Before the war, customers had had table service from uniformed waitresses. After it, the self-service cafeteria was born. Such was the popularity of the idea that, in the early 1950s, queue barriers were routinely installed to control the crowds eager to gain entrance.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Old Royal Naval College: ORNC Visitor Experience Volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Sales Assistant

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This airport parking organisation are looking...

    Recruitment Genius: PCV Bus Drivers

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Do you enjoy bus driving and are looking for ...

    Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - York

    £18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - Y...

    Day In a Page

    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project