An Anglophile’s oasis in an Old West Stagecoach Stop
The first time I stepped into The London Bakery in Old Town Ramona, my jaw dropped, and not a little drool escaped before I remembered to shut my mouth like a lady.
How did this get here? Oooooh, look at those pastries!
Now, if you are well read in British literature or regularly watch historical British dramas, you may be familiar with the tea room.
The tea room was like our Starbucks today, a place for the working person to get a cup of hot caffeine and a snack. In Victorian London, it was one of the few places respectable working girls could safely go for a cuppa and a bite to eat.
The tea room wasn’t an elegant ‘high tea’ or afternoon tea place. But, it did offer a respite from the noise and dust of the street. I’ve always thought the idea sounded lovely.
In fact, I’ve frequently wished for a tea shop where I could walk in, have a properly brewed cuppa and a scone, just as a civilized break in the day. Not as on occasion, or an event. Just as a moment to pause, to appreciate, to savor, and to re-center. I didn’t think it existed; I never thought I’d find it.
But here it is, in Ramona.
While The London Bakery does offer a full Afternoon Tea, it’s the simple cream tea (house-made scone, house-made clotted cream and house-made jam or lemon curd), served with Stash tea, that won me over.
Now for my Persnickety Moment: Stash is a bagged tea, not loose leaf. BUT, it’s one of the best bagged teas on the market, and I was very pleased with my Double Bergamot Earl Grey. Clearly, the proprietor has thought her tea choices through – as one might expect, because she IS British.
Now, for the important details: The clotted cream, lemon curd and strawberry jam are all made in-house. The clotted cream, in particular, is excellent. Don’t expect it to be sweet, it shouldn’t be. The sweet part – the curd or the jam – goes on top (or, shudder, below the cream).
Since I was very hungry, I also got a sausage roll, not included in the basic Cream Tea. Good pastry (slightly underbaked on this occasion), excellent British style sausage. If you’ve been the UK and long for a good sausage roll, this is the place.
Ah, is there any sound more soothing that the tinkle of a tiny spoon stirring cream into a tea cup? British voices from the kitchen add to the ambiance, and good humor abounds. This is a tea room with a strong sense of humor.
Overall, I would say The London Tea Room is a delightful surprise, and a place I plan to return to often. It’s one of the few tea establishments in San Diego county that allows a casual walk-in (though you do need to make a reservation for their full Afternoon Tea), and is the perfect midday restorative for a day of antiquing in Ramona.
- Ambiance – New & classy? Historic? Elegant? Doily n’ Dolls? – Uniquely Ramonan. It’s a British tea room plonked into the middle of an Old West stagecoach stop, and thus defies expectations.
- Service – are servers attentive? Are they knowledgeable? Do they leave the tea to OVERSTEEP?! – Bonus points for the owner actually being British and upholding the highest standards in clotted cream, lemon curd and jam, but the servers in the shop won’t babysit you with your tea bag. You’ve got to take on that responsibility yourself. Four minutes, my friends. Set a timer.
- Quality of the tea served – Bagged, but Stash is very good. Better than a bad loose-leaf tea any day.
- Tea sandwich quality & inventiveness – So far, I’ve only partaken of the Cream Tea, which doesn’t come with sandwiches. But, since I was hungry, I also tried one of their sausage rolls, which was an exemplary specimen of its kind. I look forward to investigating their full Afternoon Tea soon.
- Scone quality – fresh baked in-house? Light and fluffy? Mary Berry-worthy? – The scone varieties are inventive, delicious, and substantial. I very much enjoyed my strawberry & lavender scone, and the cherry almond scone. The clotted cream is as good as it gets, the lemon curd was a little runny (but I still finished it off with a spoon), and the strawberry jam was a little tart, which is a nice surprise if you aren’t fond of overly sweet American-style jam.
- Tea cakes & sweets – N/A, though their bakery case is packed with chocolate macaroons (not to be confused with fussy French macarons), cakes, cupcakes, “Better than the Factory” cheesecake, cream puffs and pavlovas. Even a Queen Victoria Sponge, which I haven’t seen before except on The Great British Baking Show. Mary Berry would approve.
- Fine China Cuteness Quotient – Medium. A mix-and-match style that varies between plain-Jane, and cute-as-buttons. I’ve had one tea served in a glass mug, another with a cute mis-matched tea pot and cup/saucer.
Is the tea room suitable for:
- Children – yes, it’s casual and family-friendly. I wouldn’t hesitate to bring my friend and her darling 2-year-old (who is remarkably well-behaved and loves a good tea outing. Your results may vary.)
- Large parties – it’s a small shop, but they do cater for wedding showers, baby showers, weddings, anniversaries, and kids tea parties, and offer an Afternoon Tea discount on parties over 12 people.
- Bachelorette Parties / Bridal Showers / Baby Showers – If they’re on the small side, and expectations for fanciness are managed
- Friend Get-Togethers – Definitely, this is where it shines
- Theme Days & Events – Follow them on Facebook for announcements, because they do come up with some surprising, and very fun, events, like the Tea & Tarot Reading day I attended. Such fun!
- Hat Lovers – While not fancy, this establishment does appreciate the effort of a stylish hat. Wear with pride.
- Anglophiles & Tea Aficionados – Yes for Anglophiles, Yes for pastry enthusiasts, and ‘it depends’ for Tea Aficionados. I am a self-avowed tea snob and was utterly charmed by the place, but its claim to fame is not the tea itself.
- Wheelchair accessible? Yes
- Are high chairs / child seating available? Not yet tested
- Gluten free options – Did not see any
- Vegetarian and/or vegan options – Vegetarian, would not recommend for Vegan
The London Bakery
Address: 632 Main St, Ramona, CA 92065