British Afternoon Tea • London • the-connaught.co.uk
On my second to last day in London, Ashley and I treated ourselves to traditional English Afternoon Tea at the unbelievably gorgeous five-star hotel, The Connaught Mayfair, located just near Buckingham Palace. Everything was incredible – the service, the building, the ambiance, the tea and especially the food! There was SO much delicious food, making for a super fun afternoon!
I was a little chicken to take pictures since it was so nice there, but I figured I would be sad if I didn’t have a few photo memories!
Tea was hosted in a large sunroom off the lobby of the hotel. Each table was impeccably set with beautiful china and luxurious chairs.
I mean really, how beautiful is this place? We were seated right next to that large plant (Photo Courtesy: Stephen Sills Associates)
We were given two sets of menus – the main menu with the choices of tea and champagne, as well as a list of the numerous food items we would be receiving; and then also a jam menu. Yes, that’s right, it was a two-page menu just of jams, all of which were made by Christine Ferber, who is known as the “Queen of Jams.” Christine, who lives in Alsace, France, chose a selection of jams specifically for The Connaught’s guests, to be served with the housemade scones. The menu included several options including “pink grapefruits from Florida with maltese blood oranges” and “deep purple Alsacian plums picked at their ripest in August infused with Vanilla pods from Madagascar.” (Imagine all of these with a British accent, it makes it even more fun! 🙂 )
We decided to go with quince jelly with dried rose petals, which was listed as “the best jam on warm scones according to Hélène,” the head chef at The Connaught. We also chose the fig preserves with fresh raspberries, picked from Christine’s own garden.
After making our selections, we received our first course consisting of delicious Brut champagne (to really display how uncultured I am with champagne, as I took my first sip, my response seriously was “wow, yeah compared to the $4 Cook’s, this is really good!”) and a large tray of our treats.
Bottom Plate: Finger Sandwiches — these were so good! Super fresh bread and high-quality ingredients that made amazing sandwiches
Club sandwich with salted cod brandade and chorizo
Sandwich of smoked Scottish salmon and lemon cream — this in particular was really good, so simple – just fresh salmon, cream cheese and white bread, but it was done just right and was delicious
Brioche of duck foie gras mousse and rhubarb chutney
Olive oil foccaccia with grilled spring vegetables
Middle Plate: Pastries — This section was definitely the best!
Strawberry jelly cheesecake and britanny biscuit – creamy cheesecake with fresh strawberries on top of a shortbread crust (pastry shown back right)
Maple syrup religieuse, blackcurrent jelly – probably my favorite of the day, a beautiful stacked puff pastry filled with sweet blackcurrent jelly (pastry shown back left)
Chocolate and caramel mousse with hazelnut dacquoise – We saved this for last since the waiter said it was the best and the chocolate would somewhat overpower your palate. The problem was I was SO full by that point, but the bite I managed to get down my stomach was INCREDIBLE! (shown below)
The one that almost got away! Fluffy chocolate caramel mousse and a layer of chocolate ganache, on top of a hazelnut cookie crust
Top Plate: More Pastries
Poached peach flavored with lemon verbena, vanilla bavaroise cream – a creamy vanilla flan topped with peach jelly (shown below)
Rhubarb compote, infusion samba jelly and ginger foam – similar to a strawberry shortcake, rhubarb soup with light cake and an incredible whipped cream made with fresh ginger
Almond frangipane tart, raspberry pistachio nuts and mascarpone cream
THEN came the tea and the scones! This was just around the time we started slowing down with the pastries (but were nowhere near finished). In came the fresh scones, our jam selections, and two teapots with our loose-leaf tea. The scones – both buttermilk and apricot – were delicious and warm, served not only with the jam but also clotted cream and fresh berries.
Lastly after even more scones (“you have too much jam left, I will bring more scones!” one of our several waiters exclaimed before running back to the kitchen to get us more scones, whcih of course we ate), we were given two cakes: rose and raspberry cake and chocolate cake.
Ok, I promise I don’t do this often, but we lied and said it was my birthday. Not that I needed more at all, but I got more of the peach flan dessert!
Every bite was heavenly. It was like Thanksgiving dinner, where there is so much great food staring at you so despite your stomach crying for you to stop, you keep on eating.
Two and a half hours after we arrived, we waddled out. It was such an amazing afternoon, being treated like royalty and served incredible food and drinks. Oh, the life of luxury!
While so much fun, I have no idea how people ate like that on a semi-regular basis once upon a time, hours after we left, I was still beyond full. Plus Ashley and I both got sugar withdrawal headaches. Slightly ridiculous but all in the name of great food! 🙂