Afternoon Tea at The Lanesborough
Our second day in London was even better than the first. After having slept for fourteen hours straight in attempt to overcome our jet lag, we awoke to streams of sunshine peaking through our windows and the gentle, murmured sounds of the city outside. We expected cloudiness and fog during our trip since we were there at the beginning of Autumn, but the weather was more than cooperative. We were still a bit lethargic not having fully adapted to our new schedule and decided to spend more time in our room, despite the beautiful day outside. We had coffee brought to our room by our butler to help brighten our dispositions and laid in bed and watched movies. Who goes on a trip to London, lays in bed and watches movies you might ask? I would ask the same, but we were completely enraptured by our gorgeous and accommodating suite that we couldn’t bear the thought of leaving it yet! But we knew we would have to venture out of the doors eventually to forage for food…
Fortunately for us we set up a date to have Afternoon Tea in the hotels Michelin Star winning Apsleys, a Heinz Beck Restaurant. This isn’t any ordinary tea service. This is an ongoing, replenishing smorgasbord of the most delightful tea sandwiches, artisan crafted cakes, tarts and pastries, and best of all house made scones, clotted cream and fruit preserves! Apsleys even has a house tea sommelier who hand picks the tea selection, which have been generally purchased at auction. Since tea is variably a seasonal product, their teas are tasted daily, ensuring quality and consistency of flavor. There is so much painstaking effort that goes into maintaining the quality of the tea service at Apsleys, and it absolutely shows in the taste and richness in every bite and sip.
The restaurant is absolutely stunning in its classic venetian style of design and architecture. Looking up into the enclosed glass ceiling and grand chandeliers during tea service was awe inspiring, and is unparalleled in beauty in my memory. The light was ambient and beaming, and there was mellow jazz piano being played in the background. I do not believe I ever saw such perfect structural beauty in a restaurant. It made me feel as though I would be having tea with the Queen, or at least with one of the princes. That isn’t such a far fetched dream considering the hotel is only a swift stones throw away from Buckingham Palace. Needless to say, if we did happen to bump in to any royalty while at tea, we were dressed for the occasion. A very special thanks to Duchess Clothier for my tweed suit and thanks to Harding and Wilson for supplying my floral Elliot bow tie. Thank you to Liz Gross of Xtabay Vintage for Jade’s gorgeous, vintage sheer floral dress and classic powder blue hat.
We looked at our menus and decided to order the Lanesborough Tea, which is a classic selection of all of the absolute best elements of having tea at the Lanesborough. Our waiters accent was thick and seemed to be of serbian or turkish origin, which only enhanced the experience of being away from home. It was difficult to choose a tea to go with our meal, so we were recommended a few teas: The Lanesborough blend, a rich dark afternoon tea which Jade had, and Rose of the Orient which I enjoyed. When our tea was served, I could smell the gentle bouquet of entrancing essences as they poured it into my cup. This was almost like aroma therapy with treats! We started our meal with a mango, coconut and lime zest parfait that cleansed our palates to the fullest and prepared us for the next delicious courses. They then brought us exquisite littles quiches that melted in our mouths. Following that was a tower of sandwiches and pastries of all sorts which I couldn’t help but to stare at in amazement. The sandwiches ranged from smoked salmon, ham and cheese, traditional cucumber, curried chicken and egg salad. All had rich and unique qualities all of their own, but complemented each other and the tea as well.
It was almost difficult to move on from the delectable savory portions of our meal, but the sweets were just too gorgeous to resist. The cranberry lemon cake was sweet and potent, while my favorite on the tower of treats had to have been the raspberry tort tart. Try saying that five times fast. The last of the courses was cranberry biscuits, cinnamon raisin scones with Devonshire clotted cream, strawberry preserve and lemon curd. I love clotted cream and have eaten it by the spoonfuls at home, but this Devonshire cream was among the best I have ever consumed. I will admit it was very difficult by the end of all of the courses to finish the scones and cream. I had eaten so much by that point that I felt like I might pop. But it wasn’t an “oh God, why did I eat all of that” kind of feeling. No, it was more of a “this was an insanely pleasant experience and I wish I had room inside for more.” I know the next time we are in London, we will be having afternoon tea at Apsleys again. Maybe for everyday of the week.