Afternoon tea by Bea is for City folk in the know

B EA Vo is an excited lady. And well she might be, because this week sees the launch of the second branch of Bea’s of Bloomsbury, the cake shop that has become one of the worst-kept secrets in foodie London. Although the new branch will be located in the biggest new shopping centre in the capital, Bea hopes that it will keep some of the feeling of a little-known gem that has made the first store so special. “There will be no signs outside or saying what it is, it’s a Londoner’s secret,” she says.

Quality is the key for Vo, and she insisted on having a kitchen on site, “even though it eats into the expensive real estate” so that everything is fresh. You couldn’t get more seasonal food, either – “we have just seven dishes on the menu every day, and it changes every day. We do it once and really well.”

The feel of the store will be the same as the original, with teapots hanging on the walls, but this is no quaint old-fashioned outfit and Vo – who trained as a pastry chef in restaurants such as Nobu and Asia de Cuba before setting up her own business in February 2008 – will be making full use of technology to deliver good service. A member of staff with an iPad will take orders from people in the queue to speed up service, and you will also be able to order your coffee on Twitter so that it is there waiting for you when you arrive at the store.

Although afternoon tea is what Bea’s is most famous for, the coffee should also be a star – this will be the only store in the City serving coffee from Square Mile Roasters, provider of beans to all of London’s best coffee shops. If breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea don’t satisfy you, there will also be a champagne bar, where you can grab a glass of fizz and a canapé before heading home.

So is the start of a new chain of stores? “People keep asking me how many I want to open, and I keep saying: ‘one’”, says Bea. As anybody who has ever eaten one of Bea’s mini cakes will attest, small is beautiful.