After 7 months of working in London, I finally did an afternoon tea today. And it was AMAZING. I actually tried to do it a Sunday last month, but had no reservation – big mistake! I walked over to The Langham hoping they had some walk-in availability, but no luck… then I called The Wolseley, who said they did walk-ins, but when I was already seated it was 2:30, I realized they start serving afternoon tea at 3:30.
This time, I decided to do it with a little more advance planning (the day before). It was still hard to find a reservation for the time I wanted, and I even got this email from The Sanderson, which has a pretty cool afternoon tea based on Alice in Wonderland:
Hi Jessica,The first available Saturday is the 19th of December and the first available Sunday is the 8th of November. Weekdays are less busy.
It’s OCTOBER 10TH. Crazy. Anyway, I was able to get a spot at 12:30 pm at The Rosebery in the Mandarin Orange Hotel – I figured if I was going to be paying so much, I’d stuff my face for lunch.
The inside is very nice; the room has a lot of natural light and there are pillows on every chair, which are very comfy. I was seated and then it was explained that there was a list of teas I could try from, and I could switch between any of the teas I wanted. The sandwiches and pastries would come out come out first, and then the scones, and everything was all you can eat. YES!
I started out with a darjeeling second flush tea – apparently “second flush” means it’s harvested in June. It tasted like tea. Later on, I switched to a lychee strawberry green tea, which was kind of interesting. I couldn’t really taste the lychee but I could definitely taste the strawberry.
First the sandwiches came out – these were really good (although they were basically just regular sandwiches). Here’s what they were:
– slow roasted organic chicken and buttered corn
– smoked salmon tartar with creme fraiche and dill
– cotswold egg and mustard cress
– cucumber and cream cheese
– Portland crab and crayfish with asparagus on nori bread
– Wildshire cured ham and heritage tomatoes
My favorite was probably the ham one, and my least favorite was definitely the cucumber and cream cheese – too cream cheesy.
The pastries were pretty good although I decided to prioritize the sandwiches over the pastries. From left to right:
– The Pan Charm – green tea and lemon choux bun
– Imagination Pie – strawberry mousse and clotted cream cremeux
– In the Clouds – blackberry, lemon, and vanilla entremet
– Blackbeard’s Cannonball – milk chocolate mousse with caramelized banana
– Mermaid Macaron – vanilla yogurt ganache
I found it hilarious that these desserts had proper names. I finished the green tea thing and the macaron, and they were all good enough to finish eating if I weren’t so full at this point.
The black velvet cake (chocolate and ginger) and The Jolly Rodger (pineapple and coconut) were just ok – I actually preferred the black velvet one without the icing (it was really easy to take off).
I was so full by the time the scones came out, so I only ate half of one. I don’t think I really missed out much though, they were basically just dense biscuits (like American biscuits, not British cookie “biscuits”). One was plain and one had golden raisins.
In the end, I ate 14 tiny sandwiches, two pastries, half of three pastries, two cakes, and half a scone. I’d say it’s definitely worth it for the experience, but not for the food, since it was £48 plus a service charge – it’s almost embarrassing to admit that I paid this much for this. Sitting next to me was a group of 6 posh, attractive 30-something Londoners; I can only hope that at that point in my life I’d be ok with doing the occasional afternoon tea to catch up with my friends!