London is awash with afternoon teas. Glam rock themed, on a bus, gentleman’s (bit sexist), healthy (oh please) and Moroccan are all on offer in the Capital right now.
Due to some poor planning on my part I have ended up with two afternoon teas scheduled in two days. The first is a surprise for my now ridiculously drawn out birthday, and the other a treat from me to celebrate a friend’s 40th.
The experiences were both very different so provided me the opportunity to do a dual review. I’ll take each one in turn.
I don’t know where we’re going until the cab pulls up outside. I go past The Goring every morning and know it’s where K Middy spent the night before her wedding to Wills.
From the moment we arrive every person we come into contact with is totally delightful. This family run hotel is beautiful inside but doesn’t feel remotely intimidating like some high-end places can be.
We are ushered through to our sumptuous lounge overlooking a lovely garden – a treat for central London. There’s a terrace too where braver souls are drinking in the typical June weather.
In honour of her Maj’s upcoming 90th birthday we’re having a special tea containing a few tasteful items to mark the occasion.
There’s a tea menu to choose from so we go for the Goring House blend which naturally isn’t available anywhere else. You have the option too of a glass of Bollinger which we naturally took advantage of.
We’re brought an amuse bouche – a cheesy cauliflower chilled soup which was unexpected and delicious.
A perk of the Goring tea is the food replenishment factor which is rarely offered. Anything you want refilled just ask she said. You didn’t need to tell us twice.
Sandwiches were traditional – cucumber and mint, coronation chicken, smoked salmon and ham with alternative options for our veggie friend. Two types of warm scones, with homemade jams and of course clotted cream.
We then moved to the cakes (see above). They were beautifully presented and included a golden orb filled with a passion fruit cream and a pistachio and dark chocolate layer opera cake. We gave everything a good attempt but were beaten eventually.
A waiter then started to move round the room with a plate of complimentary canapes like some culinary drug-pusher. I may have tried a mini hash brown with a tiny fried egg on top.
The Goring is a quintessentially British hotel tucked away from the West End but just a skip away from Victoria station. I can see why Kate chose this hotel as they make you feel a bit like a princess.
Day two and I’m off to Clerkenwell – an area I’m beginning to like more and more each time I go. It’s cool yet understated and is pretty peaceful on the weekend.
I’ve been to the Modern Pantry before for afternoon tea so know it’s a goodie, and a bit different to the norm. I think it’s also a great value menu particularly with the bubbles or cocktail included.
Owner and chef Anna Hansen has worked and lived all over the world so her dishes have a global influence. In today’s menu there’s chilli, tonka bean, rose petal and wild garlic.
The restaurant is bright and airy and today filled entirely with women doing the afternoon tea thing. It’s relaxed and un-chintzy but the food is great and something a bit different for the non traditionalists. There’s even a little shop adjoining the restaurant to purchase Modern Pantry products such as jam and chutney.
I don’t like blue cheese at all but the scone was amazing so perhaps there are exceptions. It’s almost entirely a vegetarian menu but the chicken sandwich was substituted with something else that was apparently lovely. We enjoyed everything on the menu and left full without being in a carb-induced coma.
If you’ve not explored this area before there are lots of great pubs and indie shops to wander around and you’re right near Farringdon station that takes you in and out of London.