For a long while I've been longing for an Afternoon Tea experience in London, however I didn't want a fusty hotel or a crap & curly sandwich platter, as is so often the problem with a lot of venues, I seriously didn't want to be disappointed.
After a lot of research and a discussion with a lovely friend who was longing over William Curley and his tea time treats, we succumbed and booked a spot for 2 at The Halkin Hotel.
William Curley is a Patissier Chocolatier (awarded ‘Britain’s Best Chocolatier’ by The Academy of Chocolate four times) having spent several years working in the kitchens of various Michelin- Starred establishments, becoming the youngest ever Chef pâtissière at The Savoy at just 27 years old.
This is where he also met his lovely Japanese wife Suzue, also a highly regarded pâtissière who has trained at La Cordon Bleu and worked for Claridge's as well a The Savoy, where she was in charge of their Afternoon Teas, they are simply a match made in cakey heaven!
With boutique chocolate shops in Belgravia, Richmond & even in Harrods, this particular Afternoon Tea was in fact served in the Culture Lounge at The Halkin, a stylish hotel in Knightsbridge, with very professional service in a relaxed atmosphere that was welcomed, a peaceful haven in the very centre of our capital.
I'm not sure that it will always be as peaceful as we found it, as we were literally the only people in the entire room, this was Good Friday too, much to our shock as tourists for the day! What a lucky pair we were, we had the undivided attention of our waiter and it didn't feel awkward at all, we loved every minute of the peace & quiet!
This menu is served from 3pm to 4.30pm every day and it was the perfect location to head for a rest after a few hours geeking out (and spending a fortune, ahem!) at the "David Bowie Is" exhibition at the V&A.
Firstly we were served our tea and our choice of water, followed by a sandwich platter made by the hotel kitchens. These were by far, the most delicious finger sandwiches I've ever had at Afternoon Tea (after my own of course ; ) and I'm not just saying that.... I actually had a dip into "seconds", as we were taking it at a very leisurely pace... and I literally wanted to sample some a second time around!
I had a finger sandwich selection including sweet chilli prawn, cucumber & cream cheese, salmon & caviar, sliced chicken breast & cucumber. They were ALL gorgeous, but my favourite was in fact the salmon, with salmon caviar... I didn't realise I was going to ever be a girl of expensive taste I must say ; )
My partner in crime wasn't keen on 3 of the 4 fillings, typically, so our waiter actually offered him a Brie & tomato chutney toasted sandwich with the prettiest and freshly made crisps we've ever seen instead and this tasted as beautiful as it looked. They really did the whole experience proud, as the sandwiches are almost always a let down when it comes to Afternoon Tea - Not at The Halkin!
When we were ready for the next course, we were provided with scones with all the trimmings and William Curley's 'Japanese Rituals' Afternoon Tea cakes.
The only thing I would say is that the scones did let them down, they were so flat & dry, that they crumbled in our hands, the clotted cream was also very runny (bizarrely) - they were literally inedible. A real shame, but to be honest, no bad thing as we were more interested in the main event...
So to the treats, inspired by William's gorgeous wife and her home land:
Apricot Wasabi Entremet
Layers of pistachio sponge, chocolate cremeaux, wasabi ganache and apricot compote
Dark Chocolate Pyramid Mousse
Jasmine crème brulee, caramelised mandarin and chocolate sponge
Chestnut and Yuzu Almond Sweet Pastry Tart
Almond and chestnut sponge, Yuzu marmalade, chestnut mousse topped with Italian meringue
And my personal favourite of the four, the Raspberry and green tea white chocolate casket
With raspberry mousse, green tea crème brulee and green tea sponge
They were all amazing and so different to anything I have ever tasted before, I won't want to try anything similar for a long time, as this has a torch held very high for me, I think it's my best Afternoon Tea to date.
These cakes were made to Share and to be honest, half of each of these treats is just about the perfect amount....
A whole one of each would tip you over the edge of cake drunkenness, rest assured!
Japanese teas and infusions also come courtesy of tea experts Jing Tea, a tea brand I've been waiting to try for some time - it didn't disappoint. I went for the Rose Petal tea and my partner in crime went for a Darjeeling, both worked perfectly with this interesting menu.
At £37.50 per person (or £47.50 with a glass of bubbly) this is a treat, but fantastic value, as even 4 weeks on, I'm smiling from ear to ear about this one. It's also close to Harrods, so we popped down to drool over Mr Curley's concession stand, with the most stunning Easter eggs, chocolates & desserts I've seen.
Needless to say, we looked, didn't touch and decided not to buy,
as we pretty much rolled ourselves back to Cambridge ; )
Book this one next time you are headed to London - booking is essential,
so plan it into your day!
Miss Sue Flay
Please Note - I'm not paid or bribed to say these things, I review places of interest and items of my own accord, because I'm simply THAT geeky about tea and cake and all things in between. I pay for my own food, drink, services & products, I don't tell the establishment or suppliers what I'm doing, unless I enjoy it so much that I want to blog about it. I then simply ask their permission to do so and I chat to them about my experience to make them aware that I (and others) have enjoyed it : )
If you would like to discuss my independent reviews or blog write ups on any of the subjects on my blog, please do email Miss Sue Flay: firstname.lastname@example.org for a chat.