As I continue to be locked in my own country, I took a little staycation and treated myself to something that I normally wouldn’t enjoy. This was part of my attempt to pretend to live it up overseas and escape, at least for a moment, London. In my head, I could be in any number of places, enjoy exotic locations, fabulous foods and exquisite beverages. To help supply more fodder for my imagination, I would have something different. High tea next to the park.
To have the most apt experience, I decided to have this in the more established part of town (Knightsbridge) and dine in a towering environment with plenty of fancy decorations. The full package was especially important if I wanted to achieve the full affect.
Located in a magnificent room. This is where I had my tea. Nice picture at the back.
Careful placing. Pretty decor on the menu.
Tea cup. Theme continues on the crockery.
Tea pot. Big.
Tea cup with tea. Small.
Settling myself into my seat to ready to enjoy a great British tradition. I of course picked the most unseasonable time for afternoon tea. At 12:30. Due to the popularity of this establishment, that’s the only time I could get. It was on a weekday too. I wonder what it is like in uninhibited times when there is full movement of people.
The food was displayed in a smart way for small tables. Hanging off a silver tree. This kept the table free for eating. It also created the illusion that I was picking tasty morsels off vegetation. Perhaps furthering the white lie that it wasn’t that calorific as aren’t those health gurus saying that the closer that things are to nature, the better it is for you and of course they taste more “fresh”, “light” and “healthy”. Although, when I have encountered such individuals, they are somewhat puzzled when I say that we might as well just graze off the common, eating grass like cows. That would bring you closest to nature. Things usually detrioate from that stage.
On this occasion, I choose my dining companion carefully. Someone who enjoyed food and was not unencumbered by such weird sensibilities. Instead, like me, they were allergic to bad food.
Starting with the brioche going clockwise outwards in.
Crayfish and avocado mayonnaise, iceberg lettuce and tomatoes on scented lemon brioche. Excellent meaty crayfish with smooth avocado mayonnaise to add intense creaminess on a lightly citrus and sweet bun. A great beginning.
Braised black leg chicken, green asparagus, carrot and apricot chutney with coriander on white bread. The flavourful chicken with sweet chutney was also a great success. Meatiness of the sandwich offset by a luscious fruit, something to smack teeth over.
Smoked applewood cheddar and black garlic, smoked applewood cheddar, roasted almonds with pickled ginger grapes and black garlic spread on brown bread. A rich cheese and garlic filling with a slightly nutty base. A good contrast to the other meats. Surprisingly fulsome in a way that I would usually associate with meat.
Finest Cotswold egg and black truffle on white bread. The most excellent of the selection, with strong but not overpowering truffle, this is one I wanted to eat without stopping. Good thing that each time you asked for a refill they came with the full selection as if they let you choose just one sandwich, I don’t know what would have happened.
Roasted Hereford beef, Horseradish and celeriac remoulade with chervil on brown bread. A bit bland compared to the rest of the sandwiches. I’ve never really been a big fan of roast beef as it seems to lack depth of flavour. It was a bit flat but then again, that’s probably just picky me.
Smoked and nori poached salmon, oyster leaves, pickled cucumber, wasabi and keta caviar on beetroot and dill bread. An interesting oriental take on an otherwise very traditional mix of flavours. Clean, umami taste with a touch of luxury caviar spiced up with a bit of wasabi, a great bite.
Freshly baked plain and raisin scones.
Accompanied by Devonshire clotted cream, strawberry jam, rose petal jelly and peach jam. On account of my greed, sadly the scones were only eaten in the singular. I had stuffed my face with the savory that had gone before.
The rose petal jelly, a specialty of the London Mandarin Oriental was particularly good as it tasted like how a rose smelt. My critique (which is partly my fault) is that by the time I got round to the scones, they were cold as I had stuffed myself with three rounds of sandwiches. Might have been better if they held them back to come straight out of the oven as then they would have been warm and a bit flakier.
Going from left to right.
Lemon madeline, lemon madeline with manuka honey and raspberry jam. Small and light tasting. A moreish start to the desserts.
Japanese chiffon roll, steamed lemon biscuit, strawberry confit and Timur pepper cream. A heavier treat, delicately crafted and tasting, a deeper taste than the madeline.
Chocolate and tonka gateaux, cocoa sable, chocolate espuma, tonka meringue and hazelnut praline. An explosion of chocolate and nut, excellent. This was what a chocolate dessert is supposed to taste like. Like someone shot you in the mouth with chocolate. That might be lethal but for a chocolate lover, what a way to go.
Pear Tart, caramel poached pear, vanilla cream and almond shortbread. A carefully molded fruit in the middle nestled in cream and surrounded by a deliciously firm base. Soft yet firm pear, squishy and creamy filling, firm and savory base. A great combination.
Exotic cube cake, mango mellow, lychee rice pudding and mango brunoise. A very forward-thinking cake, its futuristic bent almost blew me away. Who knew lynchee rice pudding could be so good.
Apricot opera, apricot marmalade, pistachio sponge and buttercream. After going through this, I almost couldn’t help singing a bit myself. Sweet with a tang, it was great as a gentle goodbye.
The service was excellent. Not only was it unintrusively appearing when needed, they were very keen to ensure that I had the best occasion possible. It almost felt like for a few hours at least, I was on holiday somewhere far far away from London.
Stepping out of the hotel, I was greeted by the hum drum of London. A slightly brutual welcome to reality. Against that backdrop, I concentrated to ensure that the memory of this meal was etched on my brain. As it would be a great way to disconnect from sometime sad reality. When the going gets tough, the monotony of life gets a bit too much, I can close my eyes and bring up this event and escape to a land of rainbows and butterflies. If the memory is not enough and I feel I need a top-up, that is available just around the metaphorically corner.
A quiet eating 9/10.
Afternoon tea was GBP 58 excluding drinks and service.
London SW1X 7LA