The delightfully-named Arthur Probsthain opened his Oriental and African bookshop in Great Russell Street exactly 110 years ago. And upstairs it’s still family business as usual. A few years ago, however, the latest generation, Tim and Chris, cleared out the bulging cellar and turned it into a tiny tearoom.
In a world where 'secret London gem' is overused, this secret London gem hides in plain sight in one of the busiest streets in Tourist London. While the hordes pile into the local Starbucks, Tea and Tattle remains resolutely undiscovered. Even at the busiest times you can usually find a table in the bright, not-too-clunkily-modern basement. They serve a small selection of sandwiches, cakes and scones, and a large selection of teas; there's Monmouth coffee for non-tea drinkers.
Full marks for the mis-matched china, gorgeous Chinese wallpaper, friendly service and Wi-Fi. Just shy of top marks for the fact that they cream-and-jam your scones for you rather than supplying individual ingredients for you to slather on yourself. That said, it’s always a generous amount of cream and jam so excellent for greedy people who don’t like to look bad by slathering on all of the supplies.
Set afternoon tea is £24.50 (including home made lemonade), but it’s usually best just to look down the à la carte menu, where a tea and scone combo will cost £5.90. Despite its being easy to walk past, Tea and Tattle is a great place to arrange to meet friends from out of town, as the directions are: opposite the British Museum.
By Sandra Lawrence
Tea and Tattle is at 41 Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3PE, Mon-Fri 9am–6.30pm, Sat 12pm–5pm.