Take a wander down Marylebone High Street towards Baker Street and, just a few doors into Devonshire Street you’ll find Bea’s. The name may already be familiar to you; it has outlets in Maida Vale, St Paul’s and Farringdon, as well as its flagship store in Bloomsbury, with its invitingly shabby vintage tea-room style.
While the focus of the other Bea’s stores is primarily cakey, however, this new opening has brought Jane Smyth, formerly of Fortnum & Mason’s, on board – and, with her input, they’ve developed a fresh range of menu offerings, with breakfasts and light lunches and an emphasis on seasonal ingredients. The traditional afternoon tea, priced at £26.50 per person, has also had a makeover: forget ladylike morsels for the woman whose exercise regime involves working on a cross stitch sampler – this is afternoon tea for someone whose day is more likely to involve a workout, a board meeting and a serious shopping stomp. A hefty cupcake and chunky scone steal the show on the top two tiers, but the flavours on the sandwich plate are refreshingly modern and robust too, with avocado, dukkha spiced yoghurt and pistachio served on mini brioche, for example, as well as parma ham with mascarpone cream, honey and fig relish.
For those whose tastes run more to Marie Rose than Marie Antoinette, you can completely swerve the sweet elements by ordering larger variations of the savouries served on sourdough toast. There’s also a salad selection: some, like a chicken Caesar, are ideal for the cautiously classic luncher, while others involve bolder ingredients such as beetroot, asparagus, watercress and goats cheese, or prosciutto, bocconcini, artichoke and semi-dried tomato. Prices for these plates range from a very reasonable £6.95 to £10.95 – and of course, there’s a selection of teas, coffees and juices, plus champagne by the bottle or glass to round things off.
On our visit, the service was warm and welcoming, as is the decor, which draws more heavily on Bea’s confection-centric history: think icing sugar hues of pale blue and pink, plus touches of caramel and cream. Around the service area, trays and tiered stands are piled high with decadent brownies and fantastically iced cupcakes, as well as delicately swirled meringues and displays of towering celebration cakes, which can be made to order. A few booths provide seating in this front area, but beyond this, is an intimate salon-style room with clusters of tables for pairs or small groups; there’s also an outdoor terrace to enjoy on sunny days
Bea’s Marylebone, 27A Devonshire Street, London W1G 6PN