For a foreigner like myself, the three-tiered afternoon tea is one of the iconic representatives of the British food culture. My mother used to take me to such occasions quite often, at least much more frequent than the usual 8-year old kid. I was always excited to put on my best dress, sitting upright on those velvet armchairs and gently spreading clotted cream on a scone. (Please bear in mind that was a good 13 years ago, such lady-like actions had long disappeared into the black hole called growing up.)
Anyway, a few days ago I revisited those glamourous days of my childhood with a seasonal afternoon tea at the beautiful Emmeline’s Lounge at Conrad London St. James. It was the hottest June day for 40 years, and we were so ready to take off our sun hats for a few hours of bubbles and gossip.
We arrived to find a beautifully designed menu sitting on the white-clothed tables, inspired by the icons of the British summer: Wimbledon, Chelsea Flower Show, Ascot and Pimms. The tea menu was extensive, stocked full of quality blacks, greens and floral teas.
We were recommended to go for the savoury treats first: a refreshing prawn and crab Bloody Mary and a delicious heritage tomato and red onion tart.
The sandwiches featured traditional afternoon tea favourites with a colourful twist – my favourite went to the honey and mustart Wiltshire ham on a sweet cranberry bread. A lot of thought seemed to have been put into the pairing of ingredients between the bread and the filling bring a fresh palette to the hot season, even with such classic flavours including egg mayonnaise, smoked salmon and coronation chicken.
The sweets tier was definitely the eye-catcher with the watercolour illustrations on the menu coming into life. I had the lemon basil delice, its appearance like a tennis ball, with its light mousse melting on my tongue.
The raspberry and pistachio choux was inspired by the brilliant hat scene at Ascot, with the airy choux pastry hiding a light creamy and tangy raspberry jam.
We were halted halfway through desserts with a basket of fresh warm scones – what a delight! Along with it came proper clotted cream, strawberry jam and a bright lemon curd. Scones are such a staple for me and these had indeed won my heart.
If you are in the area and desire an afternoon of relaxation, do drop by! Looking forward to what they have in store in Autumn!
Emmeline’s Lounge at Conrad London St. James
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