People either love or hate contemporary art and I am in the love category. I even love the fact that it is often incomprehensible. So I seized the opportunity to visit the Saatchi gallery this weekend with my friends Soph and Fraze who were in London for a couple of days. After being confronted and confounded by the art we needed a cup of tea and a sit down. The obvious option was the Gallery Mess which is attached to the gallery and is housed in the old Duke of York’s officers mess. The main space is a long and thin room with a bar lining one wall with floor to ceiling windows on the other side. Exposed brick work has been retained from the original officers mess but otherwise the look is modern with white painted arched ceilings and neon art installations.
We were just in time for afternoon tea (£10.50) which is served from 2.30pm so we decided that would be the perfect accompaniment for our cups of tea. The tea on offer was Jing tea (£2.20), in a limited range of flavours and served in tiny white pots. I would have liked a wider selection of flavours to accompany the afternoon tea, and I also would have liked if the cost of the tea was included in the afternoon tea.
The afternoon tea itself consisted of sandwiches, scones and small cakes and was served on a single footed cake stand. The sandwiches were tiny squares filled with smoked salmon, cucumber and egg. The bread was fairly tasteless and dull. The scones were also disappointing as they were small little, flat nuggets rather than fluffy, towering beauties. Things improved with the cake selection which included two small macarons sandwiched together with a chocolate paste and an exquisite small, dense tea cake.
I have read good reviews of the Gallery Mess so I was fairly disappointed by our rather dispiriting experience at afternoon tea. I can only assume that lunch or dinner is a better bet. I think there are much better afternoon teas to be had in London (try the one on offer at Sketch) and better gallery caff’s (like the one at Tate Modern with its fabulous views of London).
Details: Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Road, London SW3 4SQ (Ph 020 730 8135) Tube: Sloane Square
If you liked reading this you might be interested in reading about afternoon tea at Sketch or if you want to make your own afternoon tea, try this chocolate brownie recipe and serve in tiny bite size squares.