Story and photos by Dr. Michael Lim The Travelling Gourmet TM
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All Food photos are of REAL food with no photoshop
The irascible and intrepid Travelling Gourmet TM goes for a spot of Tea at where Chief Inspector…
MORSE loves to hang out. It is of course, the 5 Star Randolph Hotel in Oxford. You can even have a signature “Morse Cocktail” right here in the wood panelled Morse Bar. The hotel was a regular feature in the TV series Inspector Morse, where it was one of the detective’s favourite haunts. This landmark Gothic building on Beaumont Street is over 15o years old and faces the renowned Ashmolean Museum. The lobby is small but impressive nonetheless. With its winding staircase this is one of the quasi-medieval high points of William Wilkinson’s Gothic design. When I came here for Afternoon Tea, extensive renovations were still ongoing after the disastrous fire on April 16, 2015. It was caused ironically by the Chef’s over enthusiastic use of Brandy to flambe the Beef Stroganoff! A big renovation and facelift is on the board for the Randolph.
Afternoon Tea in the Drawing Room
The bubbly Manager Tony Sum who is from Dalian in China, welcomed me warmly. Seated at a comfy sofa, I took in the salubrious surroundings with numerous paintings by a famous artist. The artist in question is celebrated Sir Osbert Lancaster, the author of the classic Oxford comic novel, Zuleika Dobson. Incidentally, Sir Osbert paid his hotel bill with these pictures! The tongue-in-cheek paintings are of many Oxford Dons and also of a notorious ‘femme fatale’. She is the lady in red….Mais oui, even strong men in a moment of weakness can be putty at the hands of a beautiful woman.
The ambience and decor like that in an English country mansion was very soothing. I had a marvellous view of the Ashmolean Museum and the street outside through the big bay windows. A titanic glass chandelier dangling from the high ceiling impressed. The fine porcelain ware is by Villeroy and Bosch, as is the steelware. A sparkling flute of Moutard Champagne with a fresh Raspberry titillated my taste buds for the goodies to come…The champagne had fresh cut lime notes and small persistent perlage.
I was admiring the brown wood Grand Piano in the corner when splendid sandwiches of Scottish Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese on Farmhouse Brown Bread, Home cooked Ham and English Mustard, Egg Mayonnaise and Rocket Leaves plus Chicken Mayonnaise & Grapes was served. I also liked the crunchy Cucumber Sandwiches! And what is Afternoon Tea without lovely hot Scones studded with plump sweet Sultanas…to be enjoyed with luscious Strawberry Jam and thick Clotted Cream. Other sweeties were tempting Tartlets of Strawberry, Chocolate and Passion Fruit, jade green Pineapple and Lime Parisienne Macaron sprinkled with Coconut Flakes, plus good ol’ sexy Chocolate Eclair! Yummie in my tummie! The portions are very generous! I adored my Imperial Pinhead Gunpowder Green Tea from China with its intriguing slightly bitter aftertaste and exceptional flavour. The fragrant Silver Cloud Tea is another good choice. Silver Cloud Tea is grown in the Namunukula Hulls of Sri Lanka and has a soft, mellow flavour. Try too Lumbini rainforest tea from Sri Lanka. I love good teas!
The jovial General Manager, Michael Grange, came by to say hello and told me about the big renovations, “You know about the fire…so we’re having the first phase of the renovation till December 2015…in time for Christmas! Then we’ll go onto the second phase which is scheduled to be complete sometime in February next year in 2016.” Michael asked, “How do you like our Afternoon Tea?” I replied with a chuckle, “Splendid and very yummie indeed!” It is really remarkable but I have many good friends around the world with Michael as their first names. My very good friend Michael, who has sadly passed away, served with distinction in the Special Air Service regiment, fighting the enemies of HM The Queen in many of the world’s trouble spots, .
The Travelling Gourmet & Michael Grange, GM of The Randolph
Traditional English Afternoon Tea…it is THE most civilised and enjoyable way to spend an afternoon. Top hole, old chap! 🙂
Oxfordshire OX1 2LN
Tel: 0344 879 9132