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Food / Wine

Teatime in London's Secret Gardens

By Charlotte Reverse

Gardens are to the English what haute cuisine is to the French: the measure of a civilised society, the essence of refined manners. So while the gardens and courtyards of London are in bloom why not take the time to cultivate the fine art of having tea and for only a few pounds indulge in this quintessentially English pastime...
For tea as only the English know how, St Anne's Church on Kew Green is not to be missed. Every Sunday, tables are set in the churchyard and families and friends gather in this charmingly eccentric open-air tearoom. While the deceased of the parish rest in peace, visitors enjoy a plate of scones with whipped cream or recline on a tombstone to take in the unparalleled view over Kew Green where cricket matches are played every Sunday throughout the summer. And if the finer points of the sport pass you by, simply marvel at the ballet of white uniforms unfolding before you on the expanse green turf.    
The good news is that here, gluttony is no longer a sin. The proceeds collected from the tea, homemade cakes and sandwiches go directly to the church. Freshly-baked scones, rock cakes and Victoria sponges are prepared and served every week by members of the parish who extend a warm welcome to all. An estimated seven thousand visitors a year make the pilgrimage to St Anne's.
  On your return journey to Kew Gardens underground station why not take a step back in time into The Kew Greenhouse. This glass-fronted café with its pre-war interior has an attractive conservatory at the rear and serves mouth-watering hot chocolate.    
    Further down the road at number 95 the Portobello Gold with its marine-style façade could pass for a traditional English pub. Once inside, however, the eye is drawn to the golden light of a small conservatory decorated with tropical plants. Tea for two, or dinner for eight, this unlikely tropical paradise provides a tranquil haven for castaway shoppers. Sound effects are provided by Princess, Drab and Debby, resident canaries, pub mascots and protégés of Alex, the manager (who incidentally speaks excellent French which he acquired during his years in Sable d'Olonne in the South of Britanny).

Parish Church of Saint Anne
Kew Green
Tel : 020 8940 4616
Tea £ 0,50.
Open from April until the end of September, Sundays only

The Kew Greenhouse
1, Station Parade
TW9 3PS Richmond Surrey
Tel : 020 8940 0193
Hot chocolate £2,50

The Lazy Daisy Café
59a, Portobello Road
W11 3DB London
020 7221 8416
Expresso £1,50

Portobello Gold
95-97 Portobello Road,
W11 2QB London
020 7460 4910



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