After my disastrous visit to the Grace Kelly – Style Icon exhibition at the V&A (see below), I decided to console myself over a cup of tea in the beautiful surroundings of the museum’s restaurant. The set of three adjoining rooms which make up the restaurant’s main dining area are steeped in history. The rooms formed the first ever museum restaurant, and date back to the mid nineteenth century. The intricate and individual design of each room is breath-taking, featuring imposing chandeliers, wood paneling, willow-pattern tiles, and even a grand piano.
Lunch or afternoon tea at the V&A (or indeed a sneaky glass of wine after an exhibition) has always been a civilized affair. Apart from the sumptuous surroundings, the food is delicious. Catered by the award-winning team at Benugo, the menu includes everything from carb-loaded pastas, hearty pies, sandwiches stuffed with pastrami and mozzarella, and truly decadent pastries.
In a brave break from conventional wisdom, the V&A seems to realize that its patrons are responsible adults who can be trusted to eat a meal without inflicting harm on themselves. The food is served on real porcelain plates, and tea is brewed in ceramic teapots. Knives and forks are of the metal variety (as opposed to the plastic toy cutlery favoured by many similar institutions), and wine can be drunk from actual wine-glasses.
So, why oh why is there not a single teaspoon to be found in the place?? As I pour my tea, feeling very posh and refined, the illusion is ruined by the absence of anything resembling a spoon. In their place are silly wooden stirrers, similar to those found in Starbucks the world over. My dislike for these ridiculous things is so great that I would be more inclined to use my finger to stir my tea. So much for being refined!
After briefly considering launching a campaign to Bring Back the Teaspoons, I decided against that particular course of action on the basis that I am far too lazy to undertake such an audacious crusade. So - what to do? Maybe I should just give up and go to Starbucks like the rest of the world. Yes - that sounds like a much easier option ....