“I bet the blokes who work here get laid a lot,” muttered Carla behind me, as we clambered up the very steep steps of Mr Fogg’s Gin Parlour.
I had to agree. There’s something about plummy-voiced, dicky-bowed dandies that makes a lot of us weak at the knees. Anyone who ever had a childhood crush on Gene Wilder’s Willie Wonka (RIP) will know what I mean. Frankly, it was quite a distraction; Carla and I hadn’t hung out in a few weeks and had much to discuss, including, but not limited to, her recent drastic career change, other people’s love lives and the hideous state of the housing market.
The Gin Parlour at Mr Fogg’s, which is named for the eccentric protagonist of Around The World In Eighty Days – is Victorian England-themed, no doubt welcome salvation for the American tourists who arrive in London expecting Downton Abbey and get Piccadilly Circus. It’s decked out in all sorts of Ye Olde paraphernalia, including stuffed animals, elaborate glasswear and a bar made of a marble-topped pharmacist’s cabinet, which is a little gimmicky but also quite a good laugh. (Read: I want one.)
One starts, naturally, with a G&T, served in magnificent balloon glasses. I made a mental note to acquire a set the second our house purchase goes through. (We are currently halfway through the process of buying the Blue House, which I’ll blog all about if it doesn’t fall through, and I’m already gripped by Pinterest-fever. If you have any pro tips on sourcing some, let me know!)
After the G&T, there’s a little bit of theatre where one of the Sexy Wonkas goes into the history of gin and takes everyone through a couple of different styles (with samples!) The G&Tea events are in two-hour sittings, so everyone is at the same place in their experience. Then, while a close-up magician does the rounds, everyone peruses the selection of tea-infused gin cocktails, which come – of course – in teapots.
We were tempted by the ‘Do Give This A Chai’, though the combo of chai, almond butter, honey and lemon seemed a little too much of a winter-warmer for such a lovely day, so went for a fruity jasmine tea and pineapple cocktail called ‘Mr Fogg’s Afternoon Par-tea-pot’. (Yes, the names could do with some work.) It slipped down very easily, though it wasn’t an especially unique flavour. I’d describe it as a very well-made but generic gin cocktail.
Food arrived on a higgledy-piggledy tiered tray of assorted snacks, including sun-dried tomato frittatas, and scones served with jam and clotted cream. The finger sandwiches were basic in flavour – cheese and pickle, cucumber and egg mayo – but generously filled. The top two tiers are all sweet treats, including a trio of wonderful lemon and champagne possets that Carla couldn’t eat because they contained gelatin. Me: 1, vegetarians: 0.
There were also miniature Banoffee Pies and Eton Mess, which were adorable and adored.
Mr Fogg’s G & Tea, including a teapot to share, costs £40. The food amounts to a good lunch, though sittings are quite late in the day (3:01pm, to be precise), so have a decent breakfast. I’d say there are better value afternoon teas in London, but this one has an originality factor that isn’t, as far as I know, replicated anywhere else. Take your out-of-town friends and any hardcore Willie Wonka fans in your life.
Mr Fogg’s Gin Parlour, 58 St Martin’s Lane, London, WC2N 4EA
Author: Emily Gibson
Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and
glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in Islington and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.