Some may call it luck, others a curse. I have one of them, probably both. I work within a one minute walk of Bea’s of Bloomsbury and my God how it has made me fat (don’t add in the letters t, e & r to that, please). For those of you who know nothing of the mighty Bea’s, here are a couple things to remember on your first visit. Never, no matter how much you want to, throw yourself upon the piles of cakes adorning the counter, display cases and window, softly moaning the words “I’m in heaven, I’m in heaven”. Try very hard to order calmly and politely, and only as much as you can reasonably eat when at the absolute limit of ravacity. Refrain from dribbling when talking to the staff.
Suffice to say then this place is pretty good. I’ve been coming here on and off for well over a year and have never been disappointed. Okay, there was a time when the coffee machine was broken and I was disappointed, but I promised Jonesy I’d steer clear of coffee in this one (did I mention they serve coffee fuelled with Square Mile beans? Top show!).
Where was I? Ah yes. My early visits would comprise of a cupcake, a coffee and a chat. The variety of cupcakes is vast (unlike the chat which was work based – yawn). Each day there seemed to be a new variety to taste, combinations of flavours to tickle your taste buds and test your waistline. The red velvet still has top honours for me, but my quest is far from over and I am more than happy to put my health at risk for our much loved readers just to make sure you hear about the latest and best for as long as it takes – no, no, really, I insist.
Things might not have been so long standing though, I’m pretty sure I almost got barred during one of my early visits – I’d popped in for afternoon coffee and cake and we were sitting at the back of restaurant where you have a panoramic view of the kitchen and all the creative magic that takes place. As I walked up the steps I noted one of the chefs working on what was quite clearly a chocolate pig – which I announced to my friends “Oh look! A chocolate pig!” I instantly knew something was wrong – picture the scene, chef hard at work icing said pig, customer makes excited (albeit innocent) comment, chef freezes as if six inches of cold steel had just been plunged into the icing and sponge of her morning’s work – an eternity passes, the chef lets it go. As she continues to work on the pig it dawns on me – pigs have trotters not paws, those ears look a little too round for a pig, and thinking about it that face is way too cute…is that a teddy by any chance? Oh dear me. As they say in France, you stupid bloody Englishman!
Luckily for me this little faux pas seems to have been quickly forgiven. I’m not sure who the poor, insulted pastry chef was, but I hereby formally offer my full and unreserved Arbuturian apology to you madam – I pray all is now well between us, your cake and my inability to recognise common mammals for what they are.
Once I’d mastered the humble cupcake and the humble, non commentating customer act, I moved onto the other delights. Glorious breakfast scones, fruited tea breads, Anzac cookies, flans, tarts and let’s not forget the famous Valrhona brownie – something that pops up all over London in bespoke coffee and tearooms. Lovely. Bea also does a very popular afternoon sitting for tea. I’ve not had the chance to partake in this yet but I plan to soon, as we will be putting together a list of our top five afternoon teas – the clever money says this place should be in the final. I’ll get to this as soon as I can and will report back with tales of scones, jam and tea.
If your tooth is not so sweet, fear not, Bea also presents a fine selection of savoury food at lunch time. Moroccan chicken, pulled pork sandwiches (that reminds me, a trip to Bodean’s is in order), spaghetti with chorizo and tomato sauce, spicy curried butternut squash soup, as well as a glorious range of salads – the list really does go on and on. My advice here is book a table, it gets very busy (for lunch and tea) and unless you’re going to pop in for a coffee and a bun to take away you might very well be disappointed.
On top of all this you’ll be treated to seasonal wonders. So far I can remember Halloween themed cupcakes (the window display was great), Shrove Tuesday pancakes (which I missed out on and so wanted to try them), Valentine’s Day biscuits and you can currently book for a Mad Hatters Tea party! I’m pretty sure I could hang out at Bea’s all the time and never get bored – I wonder what she’s going to do for the World Cup?
Bea is a keen Tweeter and you can usually get a feel for the daily specials by following her or checking out the main website – you’ll also get regular updates on the food, her thoughts on the industry and more recently her dog, and, might I add, not a chocolate one.
Summary: all in all top stuff, a hearty, back slapping Arbuturian well done, please go – you won’t regret it. Now, let the party begin.
Bea’s of Bloomsbury, 44 Theobald’s Road, London WC1X 8NW. Tel. 0207 242 8330. Website: www.beasofbloomsbury.com. Hours: Monday – Friday 8am – 7pm. Saturday 10am – 6pm. Sunday 12pm – 6pm.