Recently I had the pleasure to go to Claridges Hotel in London to experience their famous afternoon tea. It’s something that I’d wanted to do for a long time and thought I would take advantage of being down in London for work purposes and make a special point of going there. Reservations for afternoon tea normally need to be made around three months in advance for weekend sittings, however it is worth the wait.
I’m a pastry chef and I serve afternoon tea on every shift so I was interested to experience afternoon tea from a guest’s point of view and pick up some ideas that may help me in our afternoon tea service. It’s also nice to be a guest instead of the one who’s in the kitchen for goodness knows how many hours covered in flour and cake batter……that may just be me then?!
I had the company of some lovely cake friends, Sharon from Pink Lemonade Bakery, Anneliese from Cook, Eat &Play and Sam from Sams Kitchen. We met in London and had a quick drink in a terrace as it was such a beautiful sunny day. We don’t get much sun up north so had to take advantage of it whilst it was there!
When we arrived we were shown to a table right beside the fireplace which was lovely and discreet. We were asked of any dietary requirements and then the fun began! The tea menu came which was massive. In the end I settled for some peppermint tea since I knew I was going to be scoffing lots.
A plate of sandwiches came for each of us, suited to our own tastes and my goodness they were delicious. So delicious that we asked for second……remember this was a lunch/dinner so we did have a big appetite!
The next course was freshly made scones with clotted cream and Claridges very own blend of jam which they call, Marco Polo jelly. I have never tasted jam like this in my life. I will never look at normal jam in the same light again!!! The scones were served nice and warm and they were so delicious. This was another thing we repeated on.
The final round of the afternoon tea service consisted of the cake plate and I was not disappointed!!!! The presentation was outstanding, such care and attention to fine detail. There was a raspberry and peanut butter large macaron, vanilla mil-feuille, a chocolate cake and the last cake I don’t remember what it was as I never ate it…..there was no room left to scoff anything else!
Even the crockery we were served our food on was just so classy in my opinion. It’s specially designed for the hotel and it is just beautiful.
To round up the day, I was lucky enough to be shown round the kitchen by the Sous Chef and their pastry section was just massive! A real dream I can imagine to work in with all that space and the massive marble slab for tempering chocolate. They have a real busy operation all the time and it’s not just afternoon tea, but banquetting, restaurant service etc.
Ok, so it wasn’t cheap, it worked out about £75 per head as we had a bottle of house white wine to share between four of us, however it was worth every penny. You pay for what you get. The service was first class, food outstanding and exceeded my expectations which were already high! I would repeat this experience again for sure, one of the best afternoon teas that I’ve ever had.