I read somewhere this week that the amount of pleasure that any individual can enjoy is directly proportional to the amount of pain that they allow themselves to suffer. The further the pendulum swings, the greater the impact that any restorative can have. I like the impact to be huge.
The London Review Cake Shop is a small cafe in Bloomsbury, just around the corner from the British Museum, where one can go on a dreary day for a real wallop of sugary penicillin.
Nestled in the corner of a book shop about twice its size, the cafe, though unfussily decorated, is warm and inviting. Customers get to chose between slightly cramped tables for two lined up against one wall or a large rectangular table by the back windows, which seats around twelve. If not massively comfortable, it's cosy, and the atmosphere is cheering and friendly.
They sell Monmouth coffee (arguably the best in London) and the cafe sports a tea menu longer than the wine lists in most good restaurants. I opted for a green tea with rose which was, as expected, really good. The tea is brought to the table on a wooden board with a baffling array of different receptacles. The gregarious Australian owner came over and showed me how to infuse and decant my tea- a process that involved flipping a glass teapot upside down into a small jug and then refilling the first teapot with hot water from another, larger clay teapot.
I was told that the (very pretty) pink and green leaves in the glass pot were strong enough to make ten infusions worth of tea. Although this was far more tea than anybody would want to drink in one sitting, I tried my best anwyay, since I felt that doing so somehow justified the admittedly pretty hefty fee that the dainty tea leaves and hot water were going to set me back. (I believe it was in the range of £3.50- a lot, but well worth it for both the taste and the show).
The great selection of home-made cakes and pastries all looked glorious, and the proudly "full fat" muffin that I chose was extraordinarily yummy. They also offered a selection of salads, soups and sandwiches for those seeking savoury, rather than sweet treats.
Though £9 lighter, when I left the cafe I felt so uplifted that I practically frolicked back into the wintery air, taking a moment on my way to look around the book shop. In a world of soulless Starbucks and Costa Coffees, London Review Cake Shop is a place of robust character, seriously yummy food and damn good tea- the best therapy anyone could hope for. Foodies unite, you're bound to love it.