We don’t often go out for tea these days: as with a lot of things, the price of doing this has severely escalated in Paris and ruled out many previously favourite venues. However, on this occasion we treated ourselves (or, specifically, I treated him: when a man has just bought you a Salvatore Ferragamo handbag for your birthday it only seems right), and took ourselves off to the tearoom 1T Rue Scribe, which is within the ground floor of the Hotel Scribe, just near the Paris Opéra and the Boulevard Haussman.
Unusually for a Saturday afternoon it was not too busy, although at only just 4pm it was hardly the teatime rush hour. We were ushered upstairs to a table where the familiar sight of plush seating and shelves of books greeted us. Sadly, the tables nearest the bookshelves were taken, so we settled down with the weekend copy of the FT instead while we perused the menus, opting for their teatime deal: for €18 each we could indulge in a “creation du chef” and a perfumed tea. I went for a tea (available for purchase here, among other retailers) that was intriguingly titled “fête des lanternes”, a green tea with notes of mirabelle (a sweet, plum-like fruit), while him indoors chose a cherry-blossom concoction named Kyoto. On being introduced to the dazzling array of desserts available (which changes daily according to the whims of the chef), we both chose the same thing: a hazelnut and chestnut cream cake with whisky and chocolate.
While service was a little slow at times, this didn’t hamper our enjoyment of the experience in the least: it wasn’t exactly warm outside last Saturday in Paris and we were quite happy to while away time in the warm, calming atmosphere, reading and people-watching. And when our order arrived it was rendered all the nicer by the fragrant teas served in authentic Japanese tea services (handleless cups and heavy teapots included), and the sheer luxury of the desserts. Beautifully presented, the light-as-a-feather nut cakes (fashioned into a sort of globe shape) gave way to alcoholic cream in a way that meant the individual flavours were detectable without any of them hitting you in the face. The bronzed ball on top of the cake was hollow white chocolate and it finally sat on a square of good quality dark chocolate that struck just the right tone and balance.
Being a part of a Sofitel hotel, it’s hardly surprising that 1T Rue Scribe ticks all the right boxes (as does its sister restaurant within the hotel, Le Café Lumière, which is an equally pleasurable experience) – but frankly, given its premium location and the general reliability of the Accor chain, this comes as no surprise. There’s really something there for everyone, including light meals if you don’t really have a sweet tooth, and other hot and cold beverages. The atmosphere throughout the hotel’s ground floor (including the toilets) is calm, cultured and luxurious, and staff are never anything less than attentive (without being overbearing, of course). Openness and intimacy are effortlessly combined and there are good views over the Place de l’Opéra.
In terms of value for money, I was surprised to find through a brief Google search that there are actually plenty of places in London where afternoon tea for £15 (which is essentially what you have at 1T Rue Scribe) is on offer, usually consisting of even more than is offered at 1T – a selection of pastries, sandwiches and cakes as well as your choice of tea. This is true of highly desirable locations in London that are as prestigious as Paris’ Opéra area, such as Oxford Street, Kensington and Knightsbridge, and even include L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon (in Covent Garden), which offers afternoon tea for £14 per person (in Paris you are looking at twice the price). So even if €36 for two is not outshining other London venues, it is certainly competitive and in line with the current market. In Paris, it gets even better, as the price and atmosphere offered here is among the best value in the city (one of our previous haunts, 1728 on the rue d’Anjou, used to be affordable, but will now set you back at least €30 each for a tea and dessert. This pattern is sadly becoming endemic across Paris). Now that I’ve been reminded of how good it is, and of its high value for money in the City of Light, I would definitely return.
Hotel Scribe, 1 rue Scribe, 75009 Paris