lancaster london afternoon tea
If you’ve been clicking around my blog for any longer than a week (thank you, superbabe!), you’ll know I love to pepper my work days with as much adventure as possible. Though I tend to work from dawn to dusk, I know I need to step away from the grind when schedules and clients allow.

When you’re in London, there’s no better escape than afternoon tea.

When a slot in Wednesday’s schedule opened up, I made a date with the Lancaster London‘s Ben Purton and his signature afternoon tea.

In August, Purton took over the hotel’s two restaurants (Island Grill and Nipa Thai), banqueting for up to 3,000 guests, room service, the Lounge Bar, and the Lounge Bar’s Afternoon Tea as Executive Chef.

All that and the man still manages to knock the scones – and then some – out of the park.

Kicking things off with a glass of Laurent Perrier, I decided to go for a pot of organic darjeeling (champagne of teas to follow the champagne of champagnes, naturally) while my tea buddy chose his favourite – a classic pot of English breakfast tea (a full-bodied version blended with three different Assam leaves).

While the tea timer did our dirty work, we began to plate up our savouries; a Lancaster London smoked salmon sandwich, an egg & wild cress sandwich, a cucumber sandwich, a wild mushroom, chicken and tarragon tartlet, and a roast beef-filled Yorkshire pudding with horseradish cream (the cake-taker, by far).

With excellent timing, our waitress then approached us to ask if we would like any more sandwiches (not with scones coming!) and if we were ready for our scones (YES, ALWAYS YES!). The warm plain and raisin carb clouds were then served to us with homemade strawberry jam and Cornish clotted cream, making all our dreams come true.

Making a push for the sweets tier, I took small bites of everything to ensure no sugared stone went unturned. From favourite to could-still-be-a-favourite, the final plate featured white chocolate and raspberry lollipops, apple and honey cupcakes, lemon fruit tarts, caramel and hazelnut tranches, and passion fruit and raspberry macarons.

When a macaron comes ‘last’, you know you’re dealing with a pro.

lancaster london afternoon tea
lancaster london afternoon tea
View Post

hotel cafe royal afternoon tea 3
I have frequented Hotel Cafe Royal a number of times over the past two years and each visit – inclusive of afternoon teas, dinners, champagne and caviar excursions, et all – has been a pleasure.

Nothing, however, prepared me for this afternoon tea. Swapping the Ten Room for the gold-dipped Oscar Wilde Bar, Chef Andrew Turner’s newly-launched London High Society afternoon tea menu ticked every opulent box you could imagine.

I would endeavour to put the Oscar Wilde into words, but you simply have to experience it for yourself. ‘Royal’ is an understatement.

Settled in among a hidden congregation of fellow afternoon gluttons, The Manfriend and I cheersed our glasses of Veuve Clicquot and perused the tea menu before the amuse bouche was served. The ‘Low Sidecar Muffin’ was a fluffy and savoury delight accented by truffled cream cheese and a miniature pipette of jus.

Shortly thereafter, my pot of Queensbury (a refreshing, herbal infusion of lemongrass, fennel seed
and liquorice root) arrived alongside three tiers of savouries. For each person, there was a wild boar, crackling, pickled apple and mustard bun, a goat’s cheese puff with wine jelly, a Mary Rose prawn cocktail canape, a London Cure smoked salmon and quail’s egg pastry, and an artfully presented “Cucumber and cream cheese” sandwich…

…all preceeding a palate cleanser of chocolate marshmallows and a shot of fruit tea, of course.

Pausing to take a mid-tea teabreak (oh yes, there’s more) while the pianist tinkled the ivories to a few familiar melodies, we finished our pots and welcomed the sweets and scones with open plates.

Though neither of us has a particular sweet tooth, we are veritable SconeHeads so chatted, jammed, and clotted-creamed our way through the small basket of fresh scones between bites of the other fruit-filled treats.

High points: Absinthe green fairy macarons, edible flower pots, and individual tubes of lemon curd.

High society may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but Cafe Royal’s edible version is instinctively praise-worthy.

hotel cafe royal afternoon tea 1
hotel cafe royal afternoon tea 8
View Post

take away afternoon tea
My last trip to The Park Tower Knightsbridge was almost five years ago. 2009 – and The Park Tower – mark my first-ever business meeting with a designer brand.

Having had so much change, bewilder and humble me since that meeting, The Park Tower holds a very special place in my heart. When welcoming one of my close friends and recent London transfers to the city, it seemed more than appropriate to take a pit stop at the hotel and take away their afternoon tea for a picnic in Hyde Park.

Their ‘Take Away Strawberry Afternoon Tea‘ – as you can see – is beautifully ingenious.

In their three tier cardboard tea platter, The Park Tower include:
– London smoked salmon and green asparagus (sushi style) with keta caviar on nori bread (IT. IS. UNREAL.)
– Norwich farm chicken caesar with baby gem chiffonade on carrot bread
– Surrey peppered beef pastrami with horseradish cream on malted grain bread
– Silver Hill duck egg mayonnaise and mustard cress on viennoise briochette
– Scones with strawberry and rhubarb marmalade
– Strawberry Valrhona white chocolate truffle
– Strawberry marshmallow
– Whole strawberry dipped in Valrhona milk chocolate and nibbed sugar (
– Strawberry pâté de fruits
– Strawberry and crème chantilly pavlova
– Strawberry Victoria sponge cake tennis court and lemon tennis ball
…and…the most amazing pastry I have ever laid eyes on…
– Strawberry petit choux pastry swans with pistachio cream mousseline.

Truth be told, stretching out in the sunshine, listening to an insane Beatles cover band, and devouring the petite platter between us was the most gratifying way we could have spent an afternoon. Quintessential London luxury.

The takeaway afternoon tea is priced at £19.50 per person or £69 for two with a half bottle of Moët & Chandon Rosé (GO FOR IT) and available through August 31st. I advise booking 24 hours in advance (by online form or phone) to ensure availability.

take away afternoon tea
take away afternoon tea
View Post

cloud 23 manchester
In the middle of a very busy day of meetings in Manchester, the business partner and I felt we deserved an indulgent break on the 23rd floor of the Hilton hotel. At the tippy top of Manchester’s tallest building, Cloud 23 is known – if not for its cocktails – for its afternoon tea.

Offered from 12 to 5pm, Cloud 23 serve their afternoon tea rather traditionally: a selection of finger sandwiches, a scone with cream and jam, and a selection of cakes with unlimited tea or coffee. The non-traditional side of things came down to the views: from 23 floors up, Manchester is simply captivating – a sight that contributes hugely to the overall atmosphere.

Opting for a pot of full-bodied Long Jin green tea, we were quickly presented with our tower of tea things. To my delight? A moist slice red velvet cake and dreamy little scones. To my (not so delighted) surprise? The ‘finger sandwiches’ were miniscule: a quarter slice of tuna sandwich, a quarter slice of ham sandwich, and a two-bite cheese wrap. Though there was nothing unbecoming of the savoury options, they absolutely did not justify a minimum £19.95 per person price tag. A shame, as everything else was comparatively lovely.

By the recommendation of our excellent server, we reached ‘full’ by pairing our last few bites of cheesecake with Pommery’s 4 Seasons champagne tasting board. Featuring 50ml flutes of Brut Rosé, Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs, and Extra Dry, the extra bubbly pounds spent turned out to be great value for money.

With the right tweaks made to the savoury options, Cloud 23 has the chance to be a phenomenal afternoon tea hotspot for the North.

cloud 23 manchester
cloud 23 manchester
View Post

the halkin afternoon tea
Thanks to Ametsa’s newly Michelin-starred credentials, its parent hotel – The Halkin – has been getting a lot of attention this month.

It’s time for a bit more.

Presenting…Afternoon Tea in The Halkin Bar! The Halkin’s latest tea menu is all that a classic tea should be, is peppered with delicious flourishes, and served alongside a selection of palate-dazzling JING teas (go for the jasmine pearl).

Sandwiches are large and in charge (read: if you’re taking a dude, he’ll be more than pleased); King prawns with watercress and cocktail dressing, cornfed Chicken breast with tumeric and spring onion, baby Cucumber with cream cheese and chives, and – the hero – Scottish smoked salmon with caviar and spicy peppers.

When time came to head into sweeter territory, sigh, the scones were a slight disappointment. Though the scones themselves were served slightly stale, the quick breads were saved when paired with small pots of honey-infused strawberry jam and clotted cream topped with pansy petals.

The tiered treats, however, were as dressed to impress as the photos suggest. We’ve got an almond and cocoa sponge cake (aka opera cake) soaked in coffee and chocolate mousse, a lemon meringue tartlet, a pistachio brownie with white chocolate and madagascan vanilla cream, then – GASP – a passionfruit macaron filled with gossamer-light meringue and fresh raspberries. Though bites of each allowed me no room for the final beaker of mango, strawberry and mascarpone brew, I could have been convinced to shove it in my purse for later. Maybe I did.

The Halkin Afternoon Tea is priced at £28 per person, £38 with a glass of Champagne (Louis Roederer Brut Premier), and is available from 3-5pm daily.

the halkin afternoon tea
the halkin afternoon tea
View Post