From tea on a bus tour, to science-based snacks, to a Chelsea Flower Show theme, yes, London’s afternoon teas have every base covered. Cheers!
Always at the top of ‘off-the-wall restaurant’ lists, Sketch has dreamt up its version of afternoon teas featuring champagne and caviar and quail egg and macaroons and pastries and also built-in a series of themed afternoon teas around Chelsea Flower Show and the Wimbledon tennis championships. All set in the eccentric surroundings of the David Shrigley-designed Gallery restaurant. It’s not quite a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, but it’s not far off …
The Ampersand Hotel
The location of the Ampersand near to London’s museum quarter has provided the inspiration for an afternoon tea based on science (Science Museum, geddit?). Fortunately, they haven’t gone the whole hog and produced an experimental Blumenthal-esque journey through current culinary techniques, but chocolate dinaosaurs, chocolate and nut cake with mousse volcano, pistachio macaroon with cherry sauce pipette, raspberry cake planet and citrus cocktail. It’s really cute and the perfect treatment for feet and legs sore and tired from shuffling round those wonderful but overcrowded museums.
Not content with serving up exquisite French baking-focused afternoon teas, BB Bakery – located in Covent Garden – offers the unique experience of said teas served on a converted Routemaster London bus as it takes you on a genteel sojourn round the sights of central London. Being served up sandwiches, quiches, lemon pie, and all the finest French pastries chugging along on a vintage bus sounds like heaven. And on April 1 BB announced they had got a license to do the same in a submarine. Oh, hang on a minute …
This contemporary hotel has used the children’s classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as inspiration for an afternoon tea. The delicious savouries – heritage tomato tart, leek and stilton quiche – are outshone by the obviously stunning sweet-toothed elements: golden egg filled with vanilla cheesecake and mango, chocolate caramel milk, rhubarb and vanilla doughnut, blueberry brioche etc etc (I could go on). All in the classy surroundings One Aldwych’s classy lobby. One for grownup children and childlike grownups …
Swan, Shakespeare’s Globe
The theatrical nature of the tea at Swan is hardly surprising, given its location next to the bard’s home joint. It also boasts a delectable cast, including ham hock and mustard sandwiches and fruit scones. The Gentleman’s Tea features quail scotch eggs and fish finger sandwiches. And keep an eye out for a surprise guest, a Midsummer Night’s Dream-themed tea to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakey’s death from April 23, including a Love Potion cocktail (see what they did there!) made with Earl Grey-infused gin, honey, blackberry puree and prosecco. Sip it if you dare …