Reviewed by Philippa Plater
One of my favourite pastimes is having afternoon tea. I’ve experienced the good, the bad and the ugly of afternoon teas, been to cafes, stately homes and restaurants. So when I saw that InterContinental London Westminster had created an ‘Edible Garden’ themed Afternoon Tea, to celebrate the Chelsea Flower Show my husband and I couldn’t wait to try it!
The InterContinental Hotel in Westminster is situated just a stone’s throw from St James Park tube station. The reception staff were friendly and escorted us to the Lounge where we met Azdin who seated us. The Lounge is a beautifully light room with feature arm chairs and floral displays and has an almost garden-room feel. Azdin then introduced the Champagne – Laurent Perrier – which is completely free-flowing for the duration of the sitting time. This champagne had been selected as it was very light and is a suitable accompaniment for many foods. We were poured a very large glass while we looked at the menu. The menu was beautifully produced with a history of taking afternoon tea and information on the Chelsea Flower Show. The menu had a large selection of teas; black teas, floral teas, green teas, the choice of four ‘floral cocktails’ and the menu for the afternoon tea which is served in two parts – savoury and sweet.
While we sipped our second glass of champagne, our waitress Simona, brought the savoury part of our afternoon tea. It was beautifully presented on a delicate 3-tiered cake stand. Simona introduced and described each of the items. The first tier was baby vegetable shot, garden pea and basil tart and miniature eggs benedict. The presentation was outstanding and the tastes even better! The vegetable shot was an avocado mousse with a baby radish and baby carrot with a dusting of what looked like soil (in a good way!) but was in fact rye, this was so delicate with the most delicious earthy taste, the eggs benedict was great, but the pea and basil tart was definitely my favourite which had the most faultless fresh and clean flavour which made it a perfect palate cleanse for the second tier!
The second tier consisted of smoked chicken and tarragon tear drop, goat cheese and tomato with cheddar shortbread, smoked salmon roulade on rye bread and roast beef and horseradish on beetroot bread. The chicken and tarragon was fragrant and creamy and the tarragon flavour really shone through, the goat cheese was bursting with flavour yet was delicate and not to overpowering. The beef was very rare and wafer thin, for me there was too much horseradish, but my husband loved it.
We then moved onto the third tier, Chelsea buns and scones. Simona brought accompaniments of Devonshire clotted cream, lemon curd and homemade jam. The buns and scones were both so fresh and tasted perfect. I had never tried Chelsea buns with lemon curd but it was a faultless combination.
After a couple more glasses of champagne and the most delicious vanilla black tea, Simona introduced the final part – the sweet part. This was presented in a quirky glass atrium on a layer of crumbled black olives and rye made to look like soil. All of the cakes and sweets were themed for the Chelsea Flower Show; Lemon box hedge, Raspberry meringue pie, Laurent-Perrier strawberry champagne bubble, Crushed violet macaroon, Manjari Chocolate Pond and even Chocolate pebbles! The box hedge had a delicate coconut sponge with a fragrant meringue topping. The raspberry was deliciously light with a tangy raspberry flavour. The strawberry champagne bubble was an explosive flavour, spongy yet crispy and amazingly tasted of ‘pink’! The ‘pond’ was a soft mousse, fluffy and delicate and not too sickly. The macaroon was fragrant and had the most delicious and delicate violet flavour. Finally the liquid chocolate orange was the most delightful of all the desserts.
Words don’t come close to describing this afternoon tea, completely faultless, it was just such an amazing experience. The thought and design of the menu and presentation is apparent throughout. The service was impeccable by both Simona and Azdin. The setting was completely perfect and to top all of this the never ending supply of delicious champagne – how could an afternoon tea be any better?!
I’ve tried desperately to find one negative thing… the only thing I can think is that it was rather empty, with just one other person enjoying afternoon tea. When this secret is out I expect people to be queuing out of the door! I urge you all to book now!
Each table has a 90 minutes sitting.
The Edible Garden free-flowing Laurent-Perrier Champagne Afternoon Tea costs £44 per person and is available until 26 May 2014. There are 2 sittings per weekday (Monday to Friday), 2pm and 4.30pm and 3 sittings on weekends (Saturday and Sunday), 2pm, 4.30pm and 6pm.
Free flowing Laurent Perrier Champagne Afternoon Tea costs £37.50 per person and is available from 27 May to 31 July 2014.
A definite 5 out of 5 (I’d actually give it a 6 if I could!)
For for more information, to view menus or to make a booking visit www.westminster.intercontinental.com/afternoon-tea.html.
InterContinental London Westminster. 22-28 Broadway, London, SW1H 0BH | 020 3301 8080