Name/Address: The Barbican Conservatory, Silk St, EC2Y 8DS

Nearest tube station: Barbican

What's the idea?: Afternoon tea with the option of unlimited prosecco in the Barbican's impressive concrete jungle.

First impressions: We're directed through an archway of fairy lights, which reminds me in equal parts of a) my childhood ideas of what "the height of sophistication" means, and b) of touristy restaurants in Venice. A very polite man shows us to our table and tells us that someone will be over to take our order shortly. The jam and cream is already on the table and a quick glance tells us we'll be needing top ups. It is very, very hot under the heat lamps.

What we ate: When the food eventually arrived (see below), we were presented with the traditional three-tiered tea. On the top were two warm scones (one plain, one fruit), in the middle was a selection of sandwiches (coronation chicken, smoked salmon and cream cheese, egg mayonnaise and ham for meat-eaters; for veggies the offerings are red pepper and hummus, smoked tofu and sweet chilli, grilled vegetables, and guacamole) and on the bottom sat an assortment of cakes, the flavours of which appeared to be a bit of a lottery as we all had a slightly different variety.

What we thought: It all starts well enough - we're sat down quickly, the prosecco is on the table within seconds, and we're offered a pot of tea straight away (we decide to wait until the cake is on the table). We're told that someone will come to take our food order in a minute. A minute passes. So do ten more. By the time we finally manage to wave the sandwich man down (who seems to be more intent on doing a Mr Bean routine for another table), we've been there for about twenty minutes. 

"Patience ladies, patience, it's all on it's way." He reprimands us, good-humouredly. 

Which it isn't, of course, because he still hasn't taken our order. What with us being British and all, we can't just come out and say "nah you didn't mate" for fear of being rude - luckily, my vegetarianism offers the perfect opportunity to subtly hint at the fact:

"Oh - does it matter that I don't eat meat? I eat fish but I don't eat ham or chicken or anything."

Concern passes over his face. He mumbles to himself.

"Perhaps I didn't take your order?" We shake our heads and the apologies flow. Despite the rampant gnawing in my gut, we're all feeling amiable again at the prospect of food.

"So, one vegetarian and two normal is it?"

"Yes but I eat fish too, so I'd like the salmon please."

"Ok. Two normal sandwiches... one vegetarian."

"Yes, but I eat fish."

"No worries madame! One vegetarian sandwiches..."

"Plus fish."

(I mean, really. You begin to understand why people get fed up with us veggie/pescatarian types.)

The sandwiches arrive and - no fish. No egg mayo either for some reason. One sandwich looks like it might contain cheese, which is exciting, but upon investigation I discover that it's tofu (surprisingly nice though, especially next to the frankly flavourless red pepper and hummus finger). The sandwiches are a little dry on the outside too, although this may be due to them having been toasted by the heat lamps under which we are sweltering.

Now that we've got the food, we ask for some tea. This is where Mum gets really upset - there's no decaf breakfast tea. Even worse, the tea we do select is delivered in a sachet wth a teacup of hot water to accompany it. Mum, who is normally a continent-loving liberal, begins to lament this very European style of providing tea and (in my imagination at least) beings to sympathise with the Brexiteers.

We also notice that the prosecco hasn't been very forthcoming (although admittedly, it was only an extra £10pp for unlimited bubbles, which is very reasonable in the city). When we ask, we're told it's not unlimited - to which we look so surprised, they quickly double check and realise that actually, we were supposed to be getting top-ups all afternoon. The apologies flow once more and we're left with the ample remains of a bottle. Which is all well and good, but by now we've only got about twenty minutes until our session ends and as it turns out, despite having to wait for so long to get our food, there's no room for manoeuvre in the timings. 

At ten to five, we're told that we basically need to get a move on as they'll be turning the sprinklers on for the plants. Mum doesn't buy this as what exactly are they going to do about all the electric lights and heat lamps all over the place? I'm too drunk to care by this point, and promptly swallow as much fizz as I can - I better get my money's worth as I don't really feel like I can ask my Mum and sister to pay me back for the experience (payment is taken in advance). 

The important stuff - what were the loos like?: We used the ones near the theatre entrance rather than in the conservatory itself - maybe it was the prosecco haze but I thought they were wonderful.

Do they take bookings?: Booking is essential for afternoon tea.

What I'd say to a friend: Best avoided.