Oh So French! Afternoon Tea, Kensington Hotel

South Kensington is the most obviously French area of London so it seems fitting that the Kensington Hotel has introduced an “Oh so French!” afternoon tea. This delightful offering celebrates the culinary traditions of France and pays tribute to the cultural character of the neighbourhood.

The £35 menu includes:

Selection of savouries

  • Goat’s cheese vol-au-vent puff pastry shell filled with creamy goat’s cheese & swiss chard
  • Pissaladiere crispy flat bread base with caramelised onions & anchovies
  • Quiche Lorraine with bacon, onion & cheese
  • Pan Bagnat crusty pain de champagne with tuna, olive oil, tomatoes & quail egg
  • Croque monsieur pan-fried ham & Gruyere finger sandwich with tomato tapenade

Selection of sweets

  • Passion fruit madeleines shell shaped sponge flavoured with vanilla & passion fruit
  • Rose macaroons with fresh berries pastel pink macaroons, with rose petals & wild berry butter cream
  • Strawberry millefeuille layers of crisp puff pastry with crème Chantilly & strawberries
  • Paris-brest baked almond choux with hazelnut crème patisserie
  • Cherry & pistachio clafoutis freshly baked clafoutis with Provence figs & toasted almonds

Aux Merveilleux de Fred brioches

  • Plain & chocolate chip brioches from Aux Merveilleux de Fred with apricot jam

There are plenty of tea varieties to choose from, and for an extra £10 you can make the tea experience more decadent with a glass of champagne.

Often, afternoon tea is a sickly sweet experience, but I loved that the ‘Oh So French’ menu included a range of delicious savoury bites. Particularly tasty were the cheesy and light vol-au-vents, and the cute mini croque monsieur that was so good I would have liked a full sized version.

The brioche buns were a surprising change from scones, and I did miss the traditional English counterpart. But the French are deservedly known as the finest pastry chefs in the world, and this was represented well in the top level of treats on the afternoon tea stand. My favourite were the exotically flavoured madeleines and the luxurious little millefeuille.

I always find the Kensington Hotel staff welcoming and the dining rooms are comfortable and relaxing. The ‘Oh So French’ afternoon tea suited me perfectly, fuelling my love of French food and entertaining me for an afternoon of fun in London.

More information and book here.

Grand Slam Afternoon Tea

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It is Wimbledon fever in London and consequently I have been enjoying a range of tennis themed events and pop-ups across London. One of my favourite seasonal celebrations was at the Saatchi Gallery Mess café where they are serving up an ace afternoon tea! The Grand Slam Afternoon Tea is fresh and summery with hints to the tennis tournament.

Though I have often visited The Saatchi Gallery for exciting art projects I have never had the pleasure of enjoying this restaurant before. Civilised and sophisticated I felt like it was a real occasion walking inside. The interiors are beautiful, with exposed brickwork and lovely arches, and in one corner a neon cockerel adds a touch of contemporary style. The large windows allow plenty of light inside, though there is also the option to enjoy your meal or afternoon tea on the terrace.

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Two dainty slate cake stands were swiftly delivered to our table. The array of cakes, scones and sandwiches represent the best of British summertime. I was grateful to see the modest selection – I find it quite overwhelming when a whole cake shop arrives at the table! To start, a trio of savoury sandwiches (prawn marie rose, ham & mustard and smoked salmon) and a homemade scone with strawberry jam and clotted cream. All very fresh, tasty and neatly presented. On the next level there was a tennis ball macaroon, a white chocolate and pistachio Battenberg sponge inspired by a court, Pimm’s fruit jelly and a strawberry & cream choux pastry. I loved the macaroon which had the perfect chewiness inside and a lovely crispness on the edge. The jelly was refreshing and the fluffy choux éclair added a touch of luxury. Each item was thoughtfully created to celebrate a feature from Wimbledon.

To accompany the food the waitress bought us a pot of warm Hendricks tea, a concoction of tea, wild berry, orange and gin. It was an intriguing brew, flavoured with fruit and with a spicy kick from the gin. I was pleased to find it not too sweet, instead the citrus taste balanced nicely with the sugary cakes.

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If you can’t get a seat on centre court, enjoy a stroll round the Saatchi Gallery before indulging at the Gallery Mess with their tennis tea for two.

Available until 6th July, more information and book here.

Prohibition Afternoon Tea, Quaglino’s, Mayfair

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It feels like every hotel and every restaurant in London has an afternoon tea offering, in fact it is the most searched thing to do in the capital on Google. Needless to say I had begun to get a little bored of the usual format. And then last week I experienced a mysteriously magical tea unlike any other.

Renowned Mayfair venue Quaglino’s has recently undergone an exciting renovation and is looking more glamorous and glitzy than ever before. This restaurant and bar has always been iconic but now feels even more exclusive and prestigious. Beyond the front door the walls are decorated in a dynamic geometric pattern, it is a vision of black and gold.

We followed the staircase down to the main room, which unfolded like a scene from the Great Gatsby. Staff wear sophisticated dresses and tuxedos, and I felt annoyed with myself that I hadn’t got out a vintage dress for the occasion. On a Saturday afternoon the venue was quiet and we had a choice of any table. We settled into a space in the bar area, sinking into the plush velvet banquettes and sipping our cups of tea.

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This afternoon tea is decadent and delicious, perfect for a girls’ celebration or party. We chose the Cocktail Tea (priced at £29.50) though there is also an option with champagne. I adored my ‘Scofflaw Twist’ cocktail which was made with Bulleit Bourbon, lime juice, orange juice, orgeat syrup and Pedro Ximenez. The complex mix of ingredients worked well together to create a balanced and smooth drink with woody undertones. For a lighter and more refreshing drink, opt for the Draft of an Angel, a creamy texture with Green Chartreuse and plenty of fresh mint.

The food is the perfect selection for the ultimate sweet-toothed addict – a beautiful array from macaroons to marquise, frangipane tart to coffee choux. Each sweet mouthful was balanced carefully on the circular stand. I loved the savoury treats too, the freshest smoked salmon rosti and delicious cured ham grissini. The sandwich on offer was chicken and basil – simple but classic. I was a little disappointed with the scones, which were a bit dry and lacking in currents.

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For just £29.50 a person (including a cocktail) I think this characterful afternoon tea is one of the best I’ve tried in London. And with private rooms that can host private parties of up to 30 people, the Prohibition tea will really make an afternoon tea experience feel like a special occasion.

The Prohibition Tea continues until 30th September. More information and book here.