Afternoon Tea at Royal Ascot? You’re better off going to McDonalds – review



I often get rather annoyed when people diss British food, especially when their knowledge stems from pre-conceived ideas based on circa 1950s stories. It may be news to some, but British people don’t all wear Bowler hats, don’t all have bad teeth and, get this, it is possible to go to a British restaurant which is in the list of top 100 restaurants in the world.

So with very heavy heart, I find myself having to write this review of what can only be kindly described as the very worse afternoon tea experience I have ever, ever had.

Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to attend Royal Ascot for the first time. There are various food stalls and restaurants selling food from around the world, everything from Sushi to fish and chips.

However, as this was Royal Ascot, I thought the only suitable meal to have was afternoon tea – as a tea lover, any excuse would do, but in all honestly, this appeared to me to be the most appropriate.

Alarm bells should have gone off when we walked into an empty restaurant, having passed packed eateries along the way.

This is what is detailed on the Royal Ascot website;

“Traditional afternoon tea is available to Grandstand and Royal Enclosure customers in the Royal Ascot Grandstand Admission Restaurant, in the Royal Ascot Pavilion”.

To me, this conjures images of cool cucumber sandwiches, fresh cream cakes, delicious fruit pastries and beautiful cakes.

When asked if what type of black teas were on offer, the worrying reply was,

“We have a sort of house blend, or fruit tea”.

Less than 60 seconds later we were served, the waiter poured the tea and then promptly took away the tea pot. The milk jug was already on the table and had obviously been out, left uncovered for a long time as the milk was warm.

The actual tea was luke warm at best, and as for it being a ‘house blend’, I can only assume the house in question was Wormwood Scrubs, the taste was that horrible. I have honestly had better tea at McDonald’s. But that wasn’t the worse of the offences against the traditional afternoon tea ceremony.

The sandwich course consisted of one of each, very small triangles of very thin and tasteless bread with the following fillings – I assume as a menu was not provided,

  1. Coronation chicken – a suspicious looking yellow concoction with occasional white chucks of chicken, and an odd raisin (at least I hope it was a raisin). Coronation chicken a dish developed for the Queen’s coronation in 1952, is a delicious flavourful sandwich filling in normal circumstances.  This was anything but.
  2. Beef? – an odd-looking wafer thin slice of meat, I didn’t eat this as my mum taught me never to consume any multi-coloured, non-identifiable substance. For some strange reason when I looked at the meat substance, it reminded me of the Aurora lights.
  3. Salmon and cream cheese – the salmon slice was again wafer thin and didn’t taste all that fresh. The cream cheese was cheap and generic tasting.
  4. Egg Mayonnaise – who eats egg mayonnaise? Egg and cress, maybe, but egg mayonnaise at a formal afternoon tea? Not me thanks. Besides after the fish and beef, I wasnt going to take the risk.

Not a cucumber sandwich in sight!

4 very small sandwich triangles were followed by the ‘sweet course’, consisting of,

  1. 1 round chocolate profiterole, half the size of an average ping-pong ball, filled with a substance not unlike an inferior version of Nutella. The pastry was very dry and tasteless.
  2. 1 scone, filled with over whipped tasteless cream and about 1/2 a teaspoon of jam. I assume the jam was raspberry, but as details were not available, I’m not sure. I can only go by the pips. Again I hope they were pips, it certainly didn’t taste of anything much. The scone was the size of a golf ball.
  3. 1 slice of iced lemon sponge. The best tasting of the 3 sweets, but size wise a major disappointment.  I would estimate it to be about 2 cms by 2.5 cms and about 1 cm deep.

No cutlery apart from a teaspoon were provided, and the only linen available was a small 2 ply paper napkin. Good vegetarian options were absent, and the atmosphere within the pavilion was dull.

For this, the charge was £15.50 per person.

I am 24 hours later still in shock that such a meal could be served at such an occasion, especially as grand as Royal Ascot in a jubilee year. I literally wouldn’t serve this at a canine tea party. To boot the over pricing for such an awful experience, had put a dampener on what was otherwise an interesting and enjoyable day.

Rating: 0 out of 5

Much has been made of the new stricter dress code. It is a shame the same attention was not given to the food. If you are fortunate to attend Royal Ascot, make sure you take a flask if you are in need of a decent cuppa. Or visit McDonald’s before you go to the race course.


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