One of the unexpected benefits of writing this blog has been the increasingly frequent requests from friends to join them for afternoon tea. Not wishing to be rude, I have felt obliged to accept. The most recent outing was to a place I'd never heard of in East Dulwich called Le Chandelier. As soon as I arrived I had a suspicion it was going to be my kind of place. The decor is what I suppose we generally refer to as shabby chic: lovely wooden floors; a mixture of tables and chairs; and, of course, lots of chandeliers. It was clearly a favourite spot for the local yummy mummies but thankfully they seemed to contain themselves and their offspring in the back room and my friend, who had already arrived, had grabbed us a table in the front.
The tea menu proved to be just as pleasing as the surroundings with a really good selection including at least 8 different black teas, from a variety of suppliers including Jing Teas, and plenty of oolongs, whites, greens and infusions as well. I decided to go for a smoky yet refreshing Russian Caravan and my friend chose a Whole Rosebud China Black Tea as we both fancied tea with milk. Personally, much as I love green tea, and especially oolong, if I am having an afternoon tea - i.e. something involving cakes - I do like a black tea with milk to accompany it.
There were quite a few good looking cakes on offer but we both fancied scones and it soon became clear we had made a cracking decision when they came up still slightly warm - pretty impressive as it was around 5pm and the cafe closed at 6pm. Sadly they were plain (what has happened to the fruited scone? Were they secretly banned while I wasn't looking?) and, at the risk of sounding greedy, although each of us was served two they were rather small, but they were warm and a perfect consistency. Served with a good quality strawberry jam and the requisite clotted cream, overall they were really quite lovely. And, if I'm being fair, two was actually enough for me, although I think my friend who's eating for two would have liked a little more.
We were enjoying ourselves so much that we completely forgot the time when it suddenly dawned on us that we were the only people left in the place. Although is was by now about 6.30pm the friendly waitress said it was no problem and we were welcome to stay while she was clearing up. It's little touches like that really count in cafes I think, especially as we had already stayed half an hour beyond closing time.
Overall, I really like Le Chandelier and would definitely make a return visit. Even though it's not near my home, it is on a nearby bus route and that's encouragement enough for me. The whole vibe of the place from its eclectic furniture, to its leaflets advertising aromatherapy and reflexology by the loos, not to mention the fabulous selection of teas, made it a real winner for me. It may be a bit off the beaten track but if you have a chance it's certainly worth checking out.