Apparently the site of the first coffee house in England (as claimed by Samuel Pepys), these days the Grand Café is all gilt and mirrors. Classic in style it may be, but it's certainly no historical relic: it's quietly buzzing at all hours of the day. Its petite proportions could be overshadowed by its imposing neighbour the Examination Schools, but the colonnaded front and swish interior of the Grand Café hold their own. Open daily for brunch, light lunches, afternoon tea and cocktails, it's certainly a multipurpose venue, but there's something about its slightly overblown interior that just suggests indulgence to me.
Served from 2-5pm, afternoon tea is one of the Grand Café's mainstays, if the scone-laden tabletops around us were anything to go by. The Grand High Tea (£16.50) reads like the perfect reason to ignore government guidelines for calorie consumption: sandwiches of the smoked salmon & cream cheese and egg mayonnaise varieties, scones served with jam and clotted cream, handmade chocolate truffles, a glass of champagne and of course, tea (or coffee for the less traditional). Just a couple of hours after our picnic lunch, neither of us could quite find room for this decadent delight, so we both ordered the more modest-sounding cream tea (£7.50) of scones and err, tea.