The Dorchester, Afternoon Tea

Dining at the Dorchester has always been a distant dream for me, it’s regal reputation is worldwide and it grows in stature year after year. It serves perhaps the most prestigious afternoon tea in London and I had high expectations for our visit counting down the days for weeks before. It did not disappoint.

Stepping inside from the street, you are instantly transported to a bygone era of classic manners and lavish decor. The velvet is the softest, the silk the very finest, and the flowers the biggest in bloom. We were escorted to a quiet corner table, perfect for a voyeur like me. Out waiter’s infectious enthusiasm is memorable even now, he ensured every part of our tea was perfect.

There are several varieties of afternoon tea to choose from at the Dorchester, and their specially designed Chelsea Flower Show themed tea always receives critical acclaim. We tried the classic champagne Dorchester tea, served all year round with a delightful selection of sandwiches, scones and Parisian patisseries.

After a glass of Laurent Perrier Rose Champagne, we were offered a plate of immaculate sandwiches, each with a different filling, freshly-made, the bread in exact crustless rectangles. The flavours are far superior to any I’ve tasted before: seafood, roast chicken and tarragon, egg mayonnaise, cucumber and cream cheese and smoked salmon. On hearing I was a non-fish eater our waiter zoomed away, returning immediately with a selection of substitutions. These were more than adequate, especially the Italian mozzarella and tomato option.

Along with the delicate brew of Dorchester blend tea, came warm scones straight out of the oven, homemade jams and Cornish clotted cream. And then the pieces de resistance, the crown jewels… the cakes. I appreciated the modest servings which allow you to taste without overeating. Even the simplest patisseries were utterly divine, carefully constructed and expertly assembled. The best cake would have to be the chocolate coffee cup, though the strawberry and white chocolate layered torte was exquisite and the pistachio pastry was unique and delicious. The scones were perhaps my favourite though, buttery and crumbly (both plain and fruit), seriously extravagant loaded with thick cream and jam.

Unable to let us leave empty handed, our waiter presented us with a takeaway handbag of edible goodies.

Guests at the Dorchester expect the very best – the afternoon tea certainly delivers.

More information and book here.

Hot on the Highstreet Week 144: FEED AND READ

Feed and Read is the brightest new pop-up in London. A poetic place to refuel and inspire mind and body.

Holly and Jo recycle and reinvent literature to create beautiful crafts and cards, serve delicious seasonal cakes with endless cups of fairtrade tea, and offer a calm haven to shop-and-swap your books.

I visited the first F&R pop-up at Deptford’s adorable Bearspace Gallery just before Christmas and was amazed by the array of thoughtful decorations and gifts. The transformed gallery space was filled with life, paper flowers adorning the tables, second hand books crying out for attention and a spectacular assortment of fresh cakes. Enamoured by the newspaper bound sachets of loose tea and cute cards, I spent far more than I intended to! Now this creative duo are back at Bearspace due to popular demand and come equipped to satisfy your stomachs and stimulate your thoughts.

Feeding and reading is how every weekend should be spent. Catch this imaginative pop-up at the Bearspace Gallery this Sunday 3rd March 12-4pm.

More information here.

Surrealist afternoon tea, Sotheby’s

I can’t think of a more enjoyable way to spend an afternoon than viewing an exhibition of great Surrealist works and nibbling on an immaculate afternoon tea.

Ever been desperate to stare at a Salvador Dali in your salon or admire a magical Magritte? On Tuesday 5th and Wednesday 6th February Sotheby’s are holding an auction to send off a collection of crazy cool works into new homes and to mark the occasion they have been offering a wonderfully weird and wacky Surrealist Afternoon Tea in their civilised cafe. I was incredibly impressed with this special edition tea: a quaint and quirky mismatched assortment of food to tickle your imagination and tastebuds before enjoying the works on display.

Along with a pot of English breakfast tea guests are presented with a black slate platter of entertaining treats:

Savoury scone with tomato chilli jam and whipped goats cheese

Beetroot paint with pistachio and cheddar biscuit

Pickled cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches

Earl grey cup cake with vanilla mascarpone icing and sugar Dali clock

“I’m not a biscuit” biscuit

Clementine macaroon

Marshmallow clouds

Pink lemonade

Aside from everything tasting delicious, it all looks truly beautiful, little works of art in fact. Pickled cucumber sandwiches with dill and cream cheese are a lovely version of the English classic, the macaroons and cup cakes tasted fresh out of the oven and the biscuits and marshmallow clouds were clever sweet additions. Each element is artfully constructed and decorated with incredible precision. Mixing up the typical traditional tea and adding a touch of the absurd makes this a genius Alice in Wonderland-esque event.

Today is the last chance to taste the Surrealist tea but I’ve got my fingers and toes crossed that Sotheby’s design a tea themed around every major auction in the future.

More information here.