I was lucky enough to be given Afternoon Tea at The Park Lane Hotel as a gift from my lovely Sister-in-Law. It was a thank you for making her wedding cake, yes, the 6 tier one! I was super excited as I've never had a proper afternoon tea before! I'm not quite sure how I have managed to miss out on this British institution but as first times go I was starting at the top.
The Palm Court at The Park Lane Hotel is famous for being the best venue in London to experience afternoon tea. The decor is Art Deco with Japanese influences and Husband and I were seated at a lovely table for 2 right in the middle of the room next to one of the beautiful Japanense murals. The setting felt very grand and would not have been out of place in The Great Gatsby.
There are 2 kinds of Afternoon Tea available - The Park Lane Hotel Afternoon Tea (£37 a head) and the Art Deco Champagne Afternoon Tea (£43 a head). We were booked in for an Art Deco Afternoon Tea so upon arrival 2 beautiful long stem glasses of champagne were served along with the tea menus. I can confirm it was the smoothest champagne I have ever tasted.
Husband chose a Ceylon tea but I decided to go for something more unusual and picked a Fig and Lotus flower tea which tasted delicious - black tea but with a fruity, floral edge. The pouring of the loose leaf tea was very elaborate from a great height through a tea strainer. I loved the performance element to it.
Then the sandwiches arrived and they looked scrummy. The selection was (bottom to top):
Roast beef, wild rocket and wasabi mayonnaise
Roast Scottish salmon, dill and lemon
Free range egg, creme fraiche and mixed Sakura cress
Advocado and tomato (this should have been cream cheese and cucumber but I hate cream cheese!)
Salt and pepper corn-fed chicken, celery and mustard mayonaisse on mini ciabatta roll
Our favourite was the salmon closely followed by the roast beef. Neither of us were very keen on the egg ones though, we had a funny feeling there may be coriander in the bread. Second helpings arrived unexpectedly and we really shouldn't have seeing as we knew what we coming... But we did!
Then came the bit I'd been looking forward to the most: warm scones followed by French pastries.
I readily admit to being a massive scone fan. I baked over 200 last year for Little I's christening and I don't think I'll ever tire of them.
We had 4 between us: 2 plain, 2 fruit. They were served with clotted cream, passion fruit curd, mixed berry preserve and gooseberry compote. Oh my I was in heaven! The combination of the cream with the curd and preserve was an explosion in my mouth and the warm scones were amazingly light and buttery. Wow. To be honest I would have easily eaten double and forgone the cakes!
But move onto the cakes we did. And they were exceptional. My favourite was definitely the fruit tart which had an amazing shortbread style case base.
The Lemon Opera cake (with gold leaf) was very light and fresh whilst in contrast the Dark Chocolate Ganache style cake was super rich - a mouthful was enough!
The final cake was a grapefruit mousse - very unusual and something a bit different to mix up the palette.
We could not move by the end. We were offered more food but as much as I would have loved more scones I simply had no-where to put them! I don't think I've ever drunk so much tea in one go either!
It was a wonderful experience but what made it extra special was the amazing harpist playing throughout our tea. She was exceptionally playing a range of classical, modern and show tunes in a very graceful style. It absolutely topped off a fantastic first afternoon tea - it will be hard to beat!