I love afternoon tea. There’s something uber luxurious and indulgent about sitting in a comfy armchair and spending a few hours tucking into cake and sandwiches, usually with my Mother in tow who’s famed for her penchant for scones. It’s easy to get it wrong (I’m thinking The Dorchester there) but when it’s right, there’s nothing quite like it. And there really isn’t anywhere quite like Claridge’s.
It takes place in their flower-clad foyer with a cellist and pianist playing in the background; it’s as every bit as elegant as you’d hope. And the people watching, my God the people watching. Two who look like they’re from My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, a group of Arab women, wealthy men in business suits, Steven Van Zandt (Silv from the Sopranos) – it was the most eclectic and interesting room I’ve ever seen.
Sandwiches were varied in flavour ranging from the solid usuals; Clarence Court duck egg mayonnaise and cucumber with cream cheese to the more special; poached Var salmon with garden herb mayo and Dorrington ham with a smoked tomato chutney and watercress.
Raisin and plain scones came warm with a glorious crust and light fluffy centre. A Marco Polo gelée made for a really intriguing and wholly enjoyable change to the usual jam. The gelée being a sweet and sticky substance infused with vanilla and bergamot.
I usually panic when presented with a large menu of teas (there’s 24 here) so as predicted I went for the Claridge’s blend – as good a tea as you could possibly need.
And then there’s the sweet treats; a lemon meringue éclair, a dark chocolate macaroon, a strawberry cheesecake and an apricot crumble. All so good that we gladly took them up on their offer of doggy bagging them up (they offered I swear!)
Service was some of the finest I’ve encountered in all the land; so attentive and charming with immaculately dressed gents gliding about the place ensuring we had plenty of everything yet not interrupting every five seconds. It’s not the cheapest of experiences, with the standard costing £58 or £68 with a glass of champers, but you really do get what you pay for.