DISCLAIMER: For two weeks now I’ve been trying to write a review of Anteaques, but I keep running into a certain difficulty.  To be frank, as (just about) competent as I am with the English language, I worry that any attempt to recall my visit and then think of enough superlatives to do it justice would destroy my credibility as a reviewer.  The words, when I do think of them, all try to make it onto the page at once and end up stuck in the doorway from brain to fingertips like a verbal Three Stooges.  The result is a kind of semantic hysterical paroxysm; a lexical petit mort that I fear will leave my writing with all the self-assuredness of a virgin on his wedding night, and all the restraint of a prepubescent girl confronted with a life-size inflatable Justin Bieber.  So you’ll have to forgive me if this review is below par, and if I occasionally resort to mashing the keyboard whilst moaning in bliss. 

The Story of Anteaques

The year is 1864.  Five in the afternoon and the shadows are lengthening.  Somehow, you’ve wandered into Edinburgh’s Old Town, and the smell is beginning to turn your stomach.  Nevertheless, your inamorata turns to you, her lips slightly pale, her lovely hand placed upon her chest: “My dear, I have a sinking feeling.  May we stop for tea?”  Looking around, you are surprised to notice a paint-cracked sign above a shop: Anteaques.

A warm salutation by a softly-spoken gentlemen from America greets you as you step inside.  Consulting his pocket-watch, he sounds pleased to be able to offer you a place; albeit only for an hour or so, as they will be fully booked until closing time.  He ushers you and your paramour to a small square table and presents you both with an extensive and detailed menu.  Looking around, everything seems to be in its right place; the walls are lined with maroon and scarlet jars with exotic-sounding labels – tea from every corner of the Empire.  Light from the blinds stripes pale columns of dust onto the polished floor and the intermingled scents of tea, silver polish and the warm mustiness peculiar to anywhere selling antique goods wraps you in a blanket of familiarity.  Examples of fine silver tea services are arranged on the counter tops, as well as a small selection of delicate tarts and sweetmeats from local suppliers.  Taking advice from the unobtrusively knowledgeable waiter, you order single-estate Assam and scones for your companion and yourself.  Everything arrives quickly and does not disappoint.  After nearly an hour it’s sadly time to leave, so you stand up and fish in your wallet for your debit card to pay.

Wait, what?  It’s not 1864 after all, it’s 2012!  That’s not your doe-eyed inamorata, wan from a morning’s walk in heavy corsetry, it’s your hipster girlfriend who read about Anteaques on the Internet!  But stay your disappointment, I haven’t completely mislead you.  The best part about Anteaques, after the tea, is that there’s almost no part of the experience that would strike our Victorian couple as odd.  And yet, there are no airs, no stuffiness and nothing twee.  The tea is amazing, the cakes are great and the service is impeccable.  Just like it should be, regardless of the century we’re in.  So, the absolutely most important thing to take away from this review is tjhj ionf’snkgdnks knlsgnk ijji90u[w4jioj’io*moans*