On a rainy Friday afternoon, my friend Faded Spring and I went to review the new addition to the B Bakery’s Afternoon Tea Bus Tour‘s offering: a vegan menu. Here’s what went down on that red double-decker.
The last time I went to the B Bakery’s Bus Tour was in 2015. I remembered it as a lovely treat and one of the best locations ever for a mother and daughter evening. So when my friend Ana from Faded Spring suggested we went back – this time to test their new vegan menu – I didn’t have to think about it twice. Although I’m not vegan, I have vegan friends and have baked/cooked for them, so I really appreciate the mastery that goes into vegan cooking.
If you’re not sure what this whole bus thing is about, let me break it down for you. It’s pretty much what you’d expect from a traditional British afternoon tea: finger sandwiches, cakes, tea and scones. Except that it’s run by a French bakery and it happens on board of a vintage red double-decker bus. So think of it as London on steroids, with French baking on the side. Except that the baking here takes full charge: the cakes, vegan or not, are so indulgent you’re pretty much confused about whether you should look at the view outside or focus on the food.
The idea is that when you’re sipping on your tea from one of the B Bakery’s cute reusable take-away mugs, the driver drives around Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, St James’s Park, Hyde Park, The Royal Albert Hall, Marble Arch, Nelson’s Column, Downing Street and more London landmarks. The tour lasts about an hour and a half depending on traffic.
Last time I went it was November. The sun set really early and we got to drive around a London lit by Christmas lights, in a route that was as scenic as ever. Although not as Christmassy, this time I enjoyed seeing London during the day. Two of my favourite views were Trafalgar Square in the rain (above) and The Albert Memorial in Kensington (below).
The B Bakery’s vegan afternoon tea includes a choice of freshly-cut sandwiches with vegan fillings, such as beetroot and cucumber sandwich, a vegan quiche, an avocado and carrot roll and mixed roasted vegetables on a pesto ciabatta. The avocado roll was probably my favourite, with a flavour not unlike vegan sushi.
The cakes, however, are in my opinion the B Bakery’s forte. Vegan or not, the B Bakery are masters in crafting super indulgent, rich cakes. My stomach is a bottomless well, but even I had to take home a doggy bag!
My least favourite of the cakes was probably the panna cotta on coconut rocher, which was a bit too crumbly for my taste although still yummy. The vegan menu includes a lemon drizzle slice, a seasonal cupcake and a chocolate mouse verrine, all very different, but spongy and moist. I don’t understand how these were vegan. I need these people to teach me their magic.
Inevitably with it being an afternoon tea, the menu also featured a warm, freshly baked scone with a selection of vegan spreads. Ana and I had this with a hot chocolate and an Earl Grey from Betjaman & Barton with almond milk respectively. Wines and other alcoholic drinks are however available if you book them online.
The B Bakery also offer halal, vegetarian and gluten-free menus, all starting at £45 per person. Having tried both the vegan and traditional options, I would probably say I prefer the latter, purely because of a wider variety of flavours. However, if you’re vegan, doing Veganuary, Lent or experimenting with a meat or dairy-free diet, the vegan option is still one of the most outstanding afternoon teas in London.
Last time, for some reason, I felt the bus tour lasted longer. I don’t know if traffic was worse, or because Instagram hadn’t taken off as much and I was “more in the moment”. Or maybe I was with my mum and we didn’t lose track of time by nerding out on Ru Paul’s Drag Race like Ana and I did. Still, when we got off the bus I felt I would have wanted to stay much longer!
For all of the clumsy people out there – guiltyyyyy – no, the tea doesn’t slosh everywhere. Why? Because it’s sealed in the B Bakery’s lovely mugs, which you get to take home at the end. Also, there are inbuilt holes in the table where you can place them. If I managed not to spill the tea, you should manage too.
The B Bakery’s Afternoon Tea Bus Tour – vegan or not – is nothing short of a delightful experience. It’s very touristy, but sometimes you gotta be a tourist in the place you live, right? It’s the perfect excuse for an Insta binge, the nicest gift when your mum’s in town and a different day out. The staff are very French, very polite and very lovely. The crowd is usually families, couples or girlfriends… and I must say we probably shocked some of them with some of our NSFW/drag conversations. SORRY SQURLFRIENDS.
Information on the Route
- Afternoon Tea Bus London Tours
Our 12:30 and 15:00 tours depart from 8 Northumberland Avenue, off Trafalgar Square WC2N 5BY. View Google map ›
- Our 12:00, 14:30 & 17:00 tours depart daily from Victoria Coach Station. View Google map ›