I’m sure I will feel wrath from foodies around the world when I admit that I have never had an afternoon tea. However considering that Mark Francis has started introducing me to ‘fancy’ teas such as Darjeeling, it seemed the natural next step. (Not that the other residents on my staircase last year didn’t try their hardest to convert me from coffee to tea: between U7, U8 and U4 we could have probably started running a tea room). So when I was tasked with finding somewhere in London to see my family, between the hours of 5pm and 7pm, I thought why not try out the ridiculously decadent idea of afternoon tea. Personally I would never say no to cakes for dinner. Our destination of choice was The Marylebone Hotel, 108 brasserie. All in all a pretty classy place, although the low table and sofas made it a little hard to eat.
108 also caters for the health-conscious, offering a low sugar, gluten free version alongside their traditional cream tea (which was decidedly full of both sugar and flour): for research purposes we decided to try both.
The selection of teas was a little underwhelming. We were offered only 6 varieties, with no green or mint teas. I went for Darjeeling, feeling Mark Francis would have been proud. It was served in beautiful blue-patterned china teacups with individual strainers.
The food was the kind that looks almost too pretty to eat: little tartlets filled with passionfruit curd which melted in the mouth, pannacotta that was milky and smooth… However my personal favourite was a chocolate mousse cake on a chocolate sponge, garnished with a brandy snap and fresh raspberries: I could have eaten two. Another luxury that you don’t get with any other meal is sandwiches cut into fingers. I feel there is something oddly decadent about eating bread with the crusts cut off for you.
In fact the only part of the tea which I didn’t love were the scones. While these were perfectly passable, they didn’t wow, which seemed a bit of shame when served alongside some beautifully crafted desserts. The gluten free and sugar free also impressed. As readers of this blog will know I have a slight obsession with macaroons – those served up here were delicate and flavoursome. They were accompanied by a date flapjack (which I thought was an innovative way to keep the tea healthy), a lemon tart and a chocolate brownie. None of which (I was informed) tasted as if they were in any way healthy!
Whilst I’m certain this meal will not be replacing a three course dinner for me anytime soon, High Tea could well become a weekend staple. I’m imagining the ultimate foodie Sunday: consisting of brunch and tea. Watch this space…