The Cake Shop is located in, or more specifically alongside, the London Review of Books Bookshop in Bloomsbury. It's a nice space painted in calming greys and whites, with five small tables for two and one large table that seats eight in total. Despite the fact we'd arranged to meet at 3pm, hoping to arrive after the lunch rush and before the tea one, when we got there all of the small tables were already taken. Thankfully there were still a few spaces on the large table so we grabbed a corner and started examining the tea menu. And what a tea menu it was with offerings from Jing Tea, Postcard Teas & Mariage Freres.
Usually when Miss O and I meet it's a strictly sweet affair but as neither of us had had lunch we decided to start with something savoury. Testament to the shop's popularity there wasn't much left but Miss O went for the chorizo tortilla and the extremely helpful waitress said she was happy to put something veggie together for me. And she didn't disappoint. She arrived with a beautifully put together plate of salads featuring such delights as chick peas, rich tomatoes, marinated peppers and moist aubergines. Alongside it were two pieces of fresh toast loaded with bean pate, ricotta and a lovely tomatoey sauce. It really was a good start. To go with it I had a Flowering Osmanthus Tea which came served in Jing Tea's gorgeous little glass teapot set but as an added bonus there was a pot of hot water so I could enjoy as many cups as I liked. It was a really delicate tea and was a perfect foil to the rich flavours of the dish.
After a while we decided it was time to move on to the important stuff - the cakes. They don't overwhelm you with choice, offering perhaps four or five cakes but boy are those cakes good! We chose a Date & Walnut cake which came served with clotted cream and it was unbelievably lovely. In fact it was probably the moistest cake I have ever tried. It's funny because my slight reservation before ordering it was that date and walnut cakes are often somewhat on the dry side - but not this one: it really was excellent. The other sweet thing we went for was just too intriguing to pass up. A plate of Vanilla Madeleines served with a hot compote of pear and ginger and a good dollop of double cream. It was gorgeous, if a little difficult to eat, and quite unlike anything I had tried before. To accompany these delights I opted for a full bodied Ceylon tea which washed everything down very well.
As I was checking out the menu I also noticed with some glee that they serve Monmouth coffee in the shop which means it will be very easy for me to convince Coffee Boy to accompany me on my next visit. The only slight negative to the whole experience was the service. After the initial waitress left we had a very friendly but somewhat scatty woman who forgot our tea order both times. She did try to make up for it by bringing us a little plate of biscuits on each occasion but if I had been under any kind of time pressure I think it would have been a bit annoying. As it was we weren't in a rush and, in fact, we were having such fun that we ended up being the last people in the shop. It really was a very nice place to spend three and a half hours(!) and I suspect I'll be returning fairly soon. So thank you Birthday Girl - you weren't wrong, it is a really lovely cafe.