I’m a huge fan of afternoon tea and don’t have it as often as I should. I recently spent a few months working in Hoxton and regularly passed by the M by Montcalm Hotel so was glad of the opportunity to check it out when a friend invited me for afternoon tea recently. The day in question wasn’t just any typical tea session, but a special event called the Afternoon Tea Academy.
The event saw Plate restaurant at the M by Montcalm collaborating with tea company P.M. David Silva & Sons for an afternoon of tea, food and a little bit of education. Silva & Son’s Dan Silva had teamed up with Executive Chef Matt Hill to pair a different type of tea to every tier of the meal. Dan started off the afternoon by giving us a brief history of Britain’s relationship with tea and why the Sri Lankan plantations and hand-picking technique are so important to the company. P.M. David Silva & Sons is a family-run business over three generations, which started in the mid 1930s, so have a good heritage behind them.
We kicked off the Afternoon Tea with the sandwiches first (of course!), which were a lovely, flaky hybrid of bun and croissant, called the ‘crobun’. Among the fillings were one of my favourites, Chapel & Swann smoked salmon with pickled cucumber, tarragon, preserved lemon & cream cheese. There was a delicious twist on a traditional cucumber sandwich with salted cucumber with tarragon pesto, preserved lemon and cream cheese. Our tier was completed with beetroot hummus with smoked feta, pickled beetroot and lambs lettuce. I’m not usually a fan of beetroot, but the combination was really lovely. The sandwiches were paired with New Vithanakande Tea, which had a sweet caramel and fruity flavour (which turned out to be my favourite of the day).
Next we moved on to scones, with a selection of plain and raisin buttermilk available. They were warm and fresh out of the oven and a perfect size. As much as I love scones, I prefer them on the smaller side to optimise the chances of being able to complete a whole afternoon tea as I usually I end up too full. The scones were served with clotted cream and handmade strawberry preserve, along with a cup of High Grown Ceylon Tea from the Inverness estate. The tea had lovely rosy and citrus flavour, which really complemented the jam.
Finally, we just about had enough room for the top tier of pastries, which were pretty exquisite. Each treat had contrasting sweet and savoury notes, which were interesting, but delicious. I particularly enjoyed the strawberry with Szechuan pepper and basil custard tart. The remaining creations – lemon and elderflower cake; Valrhona Caledonia Jivara milk chocolate, light mango and lime crisp choux; and white chocolate and olive oil macaron, all tasted lovely. These were accompanied by the final tea – Lovers Leap, a crisp tea which we were recommended to drink black without milk.
Overall, it was great afternoon tea. Each tier was brilliant, with the various teas really complementing the different flavours of each food. It was an added treat to receive the story behind the tea blends and the ingredients in the food by Dan and Matt, who stopped to talk to us during each tier.
- Plate @ M by Montcalm, 151-157 City Road, Hoxton, EC1V 1JH. Nearest station: Old Street. For more information, visit the Plate website.
For more of Metro Girl’s restaurant reviews, click here.
Launching this October is a rather special afternoon tea for families. Judith Kerr’s beloved children’s book The Tiger Who Came To Tea has been charming readers since 1968. Like many, I owned the book as a children and loved my parents reading it to me.
From this week, The Savoy hotel has teamed up with publishers HarperCollins to create a unique children’s afternoon tea inspired by the classic book as it celebrates its 50th anniversary. This food and drink extravaganza will be the five-star hotel’s first dedicated children’s afternoon tea offering in its 129 year history. The variety of treats are drawn from the tea that Sophie and her mum shared with the visiting tiger. The Savoy’s pastry team have dreamed up an enchanting menu served on bespoke chinaware inspired by the book. The stunning china will also be available to buy from Savoy Tea.
The menu is as follows:
- Sophie’s Sandwiches
Peanut Butter & Jam Bites; Red Leicester Cheese Whirl; and Honey Roast Ham Finger Sandwiches.
- Tiger Scones
Freshly-baked stripy scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam.
- Treats with the Tiger
Sophie’s Tights (Blue and pink Battenberg), The Milkman Special (Vanilla yoghurt, raspberry compote), Mummy’s Cookie Crumbs (Dark chocolate cookie dipped in chocolate); Tiger Food (Cupcakes with cream cheese frosting); and Owp! (Handmade marzipan tiger).
Accompanying the food will be a choice of hot or cold drink, including Vanilla Black Tea; Blackcurrant & Hibiscus Tea; Tiger Hot Chocolate (Served with cream and tiger stripes) or Orange juice.
The Tiger Who Came To Tea menu will be available for children at the first two sittings of Afternoon Tea in The Savoy’s iconic Thames Foyer. Adults may prefer the Traditional Afternoon Tea, Champagne Afternoon Tea and High Tea, which will continue to be offered.
- The Savoy’s special edition The Tiger Who Came to Tea at The Savoy, Strand, Westminster, WC2R 0EZ. Nearest station: Embankment, Charing Cross or Temple. Available Mon-Fri afternoons for the first two sittings from 8 October 2018. Price: £40 per child (aged 5-12years). Dress code: Smart casual. For more information booking, visit The Savoy’s website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in February, click here.
This post is taking part in #CulturedKids, sharing cultural blog posts aimed at children. Thanks to Catherine at Cultured Wednesdays for getting me involved.
Sketch is a unique London restaurant offering a diverse selection of bars and dining rooms. I first visited Sketch about 10 years ago and enjoyed the tasting menu at the Lecture Room. More recently, my boyfriend surprised me with Afternoon Tea at Sketch’s famous Gallery, of which I’d heard many great things.
The Gallery is a modern European gastro-brasserie at the back of Sketch. The dining room is a square windowless room with a domed roof and pinky bronze panelling at the bar. The room is painted in pale pink with matching, plush velvet furniture – a sort of mix between a princess bedroom and a Mad Men 1960s vibe. The walls are covered with drawings by British artist David Shrigley (famous for the recently departed ‘Really Good’ sculpture on the Fourth Plinth). Since my visit, Shrigley’s 239 black and white drawings have been replaced by 91 of his newer pieces so in terms of décor, there has been a slight change.
Admittedly, the Sketch Classic Afternoon Tea is more expensive than others, but in hindsight the overall experience surpasses its cheaper rivals so you can see the difference. The Sketch Classic Afternoon Tea starts at £59pp, with the option to add-on Champagne. As we were celebrating a special occasion, we pushed the boat out and added Pommery Brut Rose. I’m normally one for traditional Champagne or Prosecco, but being in such a pink room, I felt inclined to follow the theme and opt for rose. The bubbly was served in a huge martini-style glass with long stem – which kind of reminded me of the stretched out dimensions in the Shrigley artwork surrounding me. There is a huge selection of tea in the menu and it took a while for us to commit to one type, before I finally decided on an old favourite, Earl Grey. I particularly liked the china, designed by Shrigley and available to buy. The crockery features quirky slogans such as ‘it’s not OK’ on the sugar bowl or ‘forget about it’ at the bottom of the tea cup. Read the rest of this entry
The capital has seen a variety of themed pop-up bars over the years, with gin and rum especially well represented. So it’s high time London provided a dedicated drinking environment for fans of rosé wine.
Opening this summer is the capital’s first ever Rosé Bar. Richmond’s riverside restaurant, bar and boutique hotel The Bingham will be launching a pop-up celebrating the pink vino. The Rosé Bar will take over the Georgian hotel’s lounge bar, terrace and private rose garden so guests can soak up the stunning views of the garden against the backdrop of Thames. The wild garden theme will continue inside, with roses a design feature of the bar.
On the menu will be a range of rose-infused cocktails, including Rose Aperol, the Rose Mule and the Rose Fantasia. Of if you’re more traditional, there will be rosé champagne and wine, including French and Portuguese varieties. The bar will include a choice of 15 different rosé champagnes for those who prefer their bubbly pink.
The Bingham will also be offering a special rosé slant on their Afternoon Tea. The menu will include homemade rose cream éclairs, rose and pistachio cake and a white chocolate mousse, pomegranate and sugared rose petals.
- The Rose Bar is open from 1 July – 31 August 2016. The Bingham, 61-63 Petersham Road, Richmond upon Thames, Surrey, TW10 6UT. Nearest station: Richmond. The Rose Afternoon Tea is available Mon-Sat 3.30-5.30pm and Sun 4-7pm. £25pp or £38pp including a glass of Laurent-Perrier Rosé. For more information, visit The Bingham website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in August, click here.
For Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.
The Wolseley has only been open since 2003, but has steadily become an institution on the London dining scene. I’ve wanted to go for years and have heard many friends raving about dinners and brunches. I finally went for Afternoon Tea with a friend recently and thankfully was as good as I hoped.
The building itself features an impressive façade which really stands out on Piccadilly. It was originally a car showroom, Wolseley Motors Ltd, when it was built in the early 1920s, with the architect William Curtis Green taking inspiration from Venetian and Florentine design. Unfortunately, the car business didn’t last long and the building was taken over by Barclays Bank in 1927.
The Wolseley is described as a ‘café-restaurant in the grand European tradition’ and upon walking in, it did remind me of some of the grand cafes in Paris and Budapest I have been in. High ceilings, sweeping staircases, large windows and marble made for a dramatic setting.
I visited recently with a friend for a belated birthday celebration on a Friday afternoon. We were seated at a lovely black wood and marble table, which just about had enough room for our numerous plates and cups we would accumulate during our setting.
When we booked, there were various options of Afternoon Tea, depending on your appetite and if you wanted to add some fizz. We initially decided on the traditional Afternoon Tea (£23.75), before ‘upgrading’ it to The Wolseley Champagne Tea at £33.50 per person when we arrived.
We decided to have the champagne first – perhaps unwise on an empty stomach – which was light and refreshing. For tea, they have a wide choice as you would expect, including their own blend, with myself plumping for Earl Grey. The tea was presented in sterling silver teapots and brewed with tea-leaves, so you’re able to fully taste the flavour and aroma of the tea.
When it came to the food, we were presented with a three-tiered cake stand featuring assorted finger sandwiches, fresh fruit scones and a selection of pastries – all made on site. On the day in question we visited, the desserts were Battenberg, Cherry & Pistachio Cake, Rhubarb Tart, Lemon Meringue, Chocolate Éclair and Vanilla Cheesecake, which were all delicious and presented beautifully. The scones were probably my favourite and I liked the little touches of the silver serving spoons for the clotted cream and jam actually embossed for their purpose. As I’m a pescatarian, I warned The Wolseley ahead of time about my dietary requirements so they were able to give me a good selection of non-meat sandwiches.
As we expected, the service was top-notch. our waiter was very attentive, giving us refills of tea and sandwiches. We were rather leisurely as we paced ourselves with such a lot of food and didn’t feel under pressure to move on. Overall, the food, service and setting were brilliant and I highly recommend it. For those looking for a traditional English afternoon tea, I think you’d be hard pressed to find better.
- The Wolseley, 160 Piccadilly, St James, W1J 9EB. Nearest station: Green Park. Afternoon Tea is served from 3-6.30pm Mon-Fri, 3.30-5.30pm Sat and 3.30-6.30pm Sun. For more information and booking, visit The Wolseley website.
For more of Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.
When it comes to a treat like Afternoon Tea, shouldn’t you drink it in an equally glamorous postcode? Well, from this April for 11 weeks, a pop-up tea parlour is coming to Mayfair in the iconic Burlington Arcade.
Bespoke dining company Cuisson is teaming up with Laurent-Perrier for a special, modern interpretation on Afternoon Tea. With the menu overseen by talented pastry chef Hideko Kawa, guests will have the chance to eat her stunning creations in a former jewellery store in the 19th century shopping haven. Kawa trained at Le Cordon Bleu, before starting her career at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and moving on to perfect her pastry skills under Helene Darroze at The Connaught, eventually becoming Head Pastry Chef at The Fat Duck. Meanwhile, Cuisson have been bringing chefs from Michelin-starred kitchens together since 2012 to create pop-ups and special events.
The tea will be served in quintessentially English Wedgwood bone china, while some of the food will be presented in the jewellery boxes. For those who want something a bit stronger, the tea will be paired with Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé. Among the many delectable food served will include coronation chicken terrine, smoked salmon cornet caviar, Laurent-Perrier Champagne trifle and Cuisson choux pastry with caramel and candied herbs.
- Cuisson Pop-Up Afternoon Tea will take place at 66-67 Burlington Arcade, Mayfair, W1J 0QJ. Tickets: £65 for Afternoon Tea for one including two glasses of champagne. From 8 April until 26 June 2015. Nearest tube: Green Park. To book, visit the Time Out London website.
When it comes to Afternoon Tea in London, there is a huge choice of venues and budgets to suit everyone. However, as much as I love Afternoon Tea, there are many that just blend into each other. While I do adore treating myself to high tea, I do tend to save it for special occasions, such as birthdays. So when organising a Mother’s Day treat this year, my sister and I hunted around for an ‘alternative’ tea and it didn’t take long before the W Rock Tea at the W Hotel came up.
The W Hotel London is a recent-ish addition to the popular, upmarket hotels in the capital. The London branch opened in 2011 and quickly became a destination for visitors to the capital who want to be in the centre of the action and to party. Situated on the site of the former Swiss Centre, the W stands on the Chinatown end of Wardour Street, where Leicester Square links to Piccadilly Circus. Outside the hotel it is pretty chaotic, a mix of tourists and Londoners battling to get to their destination. However, once you step inside the W and take a lift up to the reception, it is calm and relaxed.
Upon arrival, we were shown to our table in the W Lounge – comfortable sofas with low tables and windows overlooking bustling Wardour Street and the stunning rooftop architecture of Georgian buildings across the road. The Lounge is set back from the busier bar area and gangway between the lifts and the former by a row of shelves featuring contemporary, ornamental plates, which provided an eye-catching backdrop. With so much light and modern fixtures, the W Lounge really sets itself apart from other Afternoon Tea venues, which would usually be more traditional in nature.
As the W is a rock ‘n’ roll venue (it often plays hosts to after-parties during premieres, fashion week, etc) at its Wyld Bar, and is on the doorstep of Soho, the hotel’s afternoon tea has been strongly influenced by its setting. With music a big part of Soho’s history, the tea has been named the W Rock Tea, with the various bites named after legendary rock classics. After ordering our choice of tea, our individual pots soon arrived along with the three-tiered stand made of vinyl records – no chintz or granny’s china here! Despite the urge to immediately sample the sweets, we started with the savoury sandwiches – aka ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ (Pink Floyd) – which consisted of smoked salmon, cream cheese and dill; cucumber and Greek yoghurt, egg mayonnaise and watercress; and roast chicken and lemon butter. The bread was a mix of brown and white so something to please everyone and no crusts (this made my inner child very happy!). The sandwiches were tasty, but light – meaning there was plenty of room for the sugar-filled delights which were coming next.
The one staple of all good afternoon teas is, of course, the scones – aka ‘Rule Britannia’. They were fresh and a substantial size, tasting divine with clotted cream and jam. With the traditional parts of the tea finished, we then started on the top two tiers of the stand. Accompanying the tea and stand were the shot glasses of ‘London’s Burning’ (The Clash) – a light and fluffy chocolate pudding with hazelnut crunch, which was definitely one of my favourite features of the Rock Tea. Other highlights included ‘Sticky Fingers’ (Rolling Stones) – vanilla meringue ‘with attitude’, which had carefully been created in the shape of the Stones’ iconic mouth and tongue. My Mum is a huge Stones fan so she was particularly chuffed with that. I also loved the ‘Cherry Bomb’ (The Runaways) – chocolate, mascarpone and cherry which was delicious and creamy. Other items on the tier included ‘Sweet Emotion’ chocolate and passion fruit, ‘Every Rose Has Its Thorn’ rose financier and rose petal jam; and ‘Purple Haze’ Victoria Sponge and psychedelic marzipan, all different flavours in perfect sizes so you could sample each one.
Overall, the Rock Tea rocked! The service was friendly and attentive and all the food was delicious. The setting was comfortable and fun. I was definitely feeling pretty full afterwards so a walk through Soho was a good post-pig out remedy! For those looking for an afternoon tea with something a bit different, I would highly recommend the W Rock Tea.
- W Rock Tea is available in the W Lounge between 1pm and 4.45pm daily and costs £25 per person. W Hotel, 10 Wardour Street, W1D 6QF. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square. For booking, tel: 0207 758 1060 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the W Hotel London website.
For the history of what stood on the site of the W Hotel before it was built, read Swiss glockenspiel in Leicester Square: The last survivor of the Swiss Centre.
For more of Metro Girl’s restaurant reviews, click here.
Like many Londoners, and visitors to the capital too I’m sure, the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel and train station is one of my favourite buildings in the capital. Designed by Victorian architect Sir George Gilbert Scott, the Gothic Revival masterpiece was originally opened in 1873 as the Midland Grand Hotel. Although impressive when it first opened with its grand staircase, fireplaces in every room and striking architectural features, decades later it started falling out of favour due to the lack of ensuite bedrooms and closed to guests in 1935. After 76 years as railway offices, the building was finally restored to its original intended use and opened as the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel in 2011.
Given how long I have loved the building, I’m surprised I haven’t visited one of the restaurants or bars inside the hotel sooner. So when I was eyeing possible venues for afternoon tea for my birthday last week, I was thrilled to see The Gilbert Scott featured it on their menu. Booking the afternoon tea option through their website, I opted for a 2pm slot on a Friday. We entered through the main St Pancras Renaissance Hotel entrance so walked through some of the stone Neo-Gothic arched doorways, passing by the red and gold leaf Medieval-style wallpapers and, the pièce de résistance, the grand staircase.
We were seated inside The Gilbert Scott bar – next to the adjoining restaurant of the same name. We entered from a hotel hallway through twin arches featuring golf leaf detailing and polished limestone columns. The bar was absolutely stunning, with equilateral arch windows letting in lots of light through its three exterior walls. On the ceiling was ornate, tapestry-like patterns of predominantly red, blue and green, with huge bells hanging from the ceiling as chandeliers. The bar used to the ‘coffee room’ in the former Midland Grand Hotel.
Seated at our table, we were greeted by an attentive and friendly waiter. After being presented with the menu, there are various afternoon tea options – the standard at £25 or with a glass of Moët & Chandon champagne for an extra £8 – which we opted for as we were celebrating my birthday. Alternatively, there is also a Ruinart afternoon tea with a glass of Ruinart Blanc de Blancs NV for £36.00.
We started with a flute of Moët each before we were presented with our three-tier cake stand. A selection of savoury treats – cucumber rolls, sausage rolls, egg mayonnaise and coronation chicken sandwiches on the lower tier. The middle featured a selection of mini desserts – Eton Mess, lemon cupcakes, Eccles cakes and praline mousse. Then finally on the top-tier were quite possibly two of the biggest scones – handmade of course – I have ever seen in my life with clotted cream and jam. The food was all delicious and despite forfeiting lunch or a decent sized breakfast, my sister and I struggled to finish all our food. We had the options of refilling the savoury platter, but honestly couldn’t eat any more. After finishing our bubbly, we were served individual pots of tea. As an extra, surprise treat, I was presented with two chef-made chocolate truffles with ‘happy birthday’ written in chocolate sauce and a candle, which was a lovely thought by the waiter.
Overall, the whole experience was brilliant. The service was attentive and friendly, the food was delicious and incredibly filling – the mini desserts were a lovely alternative to the usual afternoon tea experience. Finally, the striking setting – along with the opportunity to check out some of the hotel’s halls and staircase – completed a perfect afternoon. I would highly recommend booking an afternoon tea at The Gilbert Scott. I can’t wait to come back and try the menu at the restaurant next door.
- The Gilbert Scott, St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, Euston Road, NW1 2AR. Afternoon tea is served between 12-4pm. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras. For more information and bookings, visit The Gilbert Scott website.
To read Metro Girl’s other restaurant and pub reviews, click here for the contents page.
For another Metro Girl blog posts on a George Gilbert Scott creation, read about the Albert Memorial, or his grandson Giles Gilbert Scott’s creations Battersea Power Station or the red London phonebox
I absolutely adore London in the summer – there is so much to do and much of it alfresco. Although the weather has been incredibly changeable this year, I’ve had many lovely days and evenings out in the sunshine… I even stood in the rain to watch the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant.
So as the summer is starting to draw to a close, I’ve been in a mad panic trying to do all the temporary summer events and venues on my ‘to do’ list. One such temporary venue is the Daylesford Cafe on the roof of Selfridges department store. As part of the store’s Big British Bang celebration, their historic Oxford Street store’s roof was open to the public this summer for the ‘Big Rooftop Tea & Golf Party’. So as well as a pop-up cafe, there is also a crazy golf course.
Even though I was unable to combine golf and tea for my visit, but I did enjoy a session of afternoon tea and bubbly with one of my best friends on a hot August evening recently. Booking in advance for the cafe is unavailable, so a friend and I turned up and rode the lift six stories high to the top floor. Once arriving, what previously (one assumes…) had been a plain corridor had been transformed into a summer wonderland with AstroTurf, bunting, golf balls, china tea cups and strawberries stuck to the wall… quintessentially English.
Our fears of it being too busy to accommodate us were soon allayed and we were shown to a table by a friendly waitress and given a menu. The menu is 100% organic with ingredients coming from Daylesford organic farm in Gloucestershire. As it was my birthday a few days later, we decided to have an early celebration and opted for Afternoon Tea for Two with champagne.
With the sun shining on our faces after a long day cooped up at work, we chatted away over finger rolls with smoked salmon and cucumber and egg mayonnaise, followed by scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream and a slice of Bakewell tart. We also mixed things up by drinking champagne and a pot of tea together, a surprisingly refreshing mix – despite the different temperatures.
Even though I would have loved to had a chance to play crazy golf, visiting the cafe was a treat in itself. I love afternoon tea, champagne and rooftop bars, so the combination of all three was certainly a winner for me. As well as being delicious, the fact that the food was all organic, made it slightly less naughty! There’s still a few weeks left in September, so hopefully I’ll get a chance to return…
- Bompas and Parr’s Crazy Golf runs until 2 September (limited availability so booking is highly advised), while Daylesford’s pop-up cafe has now been extended until the end of September, open from noon until 9pm. The roof is accessible from a lift in the Fragrance Hall in Selfridges, 400 Oxford Street, London W1A 1AB. For more information, visit the Selfridges’ website. Nearest tube: Bond Street or Marble Arch.