Naughty Afternoon Tea at the Paramount, Centre Point:
There are parts of London which seem to be semi-permanent building sites ; with no natural sense of direction I dread having to find my way through the scaffolding lined streets, usually bereft of any landmarks. While the area around Tottenham Court Road station has been in that category for some time now, an inability to find Centre Point, one of London’s first sky scrapers but now the 27th tallest building in the City, must surely put me into a new league of incompetence. Of course I did eventually look up and find where I was meant to be going and later still worked out where the entrance to the Paramount Restaurant is. All this before an afternoon tea that promised alcohol at every stage.
I’ve been to the Paramount for an evening event before but never during the day. On a clear afternoon the views are truly spectacular yet the venue seems to be one of London’s least publicised. Newer, taller City and Riverside buildings draw the crowds. The result is that the Paramount is pleasantly busy rather than overbooked and crowded. A real plus if you enjoy dining with a view.
Especially if the food matches up to the view.
Afternoon tea was preceded by a welcome cocktail. I have to admit to erring on the site of caution and picking an old favourite – the Grey Goose Fizz, which is a mixture of champagne, grey goose vodka and elderflower cordial. And, the Paramount version was excellent, fresh and delicate with a lime twist adding a little extra.
The tea arrived beautifully presented, with a plate of alcohol infused sandwiches as the savoury element. I particularly enjoyed the Gin and Orange cured salmon which was served with lemon butter on lemon bread. It was a clever selection of flavour combinations – whisky oaked smoked ham on tomato bread, bloody mary on wholegrain bread and mature cheddar and port jelly on rye bread making up the remainder of the plate.
My companion, who doesn’t like tomato, felt that a few more savoury options would have made a better balance. I didn’t have an issue but then I did eat her bloody mary sandwich!
Scones came on a separate plate with a pot of Cointreau and orange jam and clotted cream. Whilst the presentation wasn’t the best I’ve seen, the plain scone was beautifully light and fluffy while the rum soaked dried fruited ones were slightly biscuity. Opinion was divided about the Cointreau and orange jam. I loved it, but my companion would have preferred strawberry. I’d suggest offering a choice – a tiny change that would make a big difference.
For me though, there were two stars acts. The selection of teas was innovative and presentation in a glass teapot really displayed my ‘artisan flower’ chinese tea perfectly. There’s a range of teas on offer and three rather intriguing tisanes which we didn’t get the chance to taste. But, I loved the idea of garden mint, fennel and rosemary and might just try making my own.
Of the cakes my personal favourite was the amaretto sour, a tiramisu with lime marscapone, although I’ll never turn down a raspberry cranachan. The porn star martini was suitably OTT and the coffee bailey’s and cream would have made a lovely dessert. I was just a little less convinced by the brandy and cherry cola with sherbert and if I’m honest, the addition of two extras (rum punch and chambord and lemonade) was enough to defeat both of us.
Head Chef Kryzsztof Zachwieja has done an excellent job of creating a rather naughty afternoon tea that would make a great treat. At £28 per person (without the cocktail), it’s good value too, especially if you consider the excellent view, 385 feet from ground level. There’s a classic tea also on offer. Available from 2.30pm to 4.30pm, I’d happily indulge again – and next time I’m trying the mint fennel and rosemary tea.
101-103 New Oxford Street,
London, WC1A 1DD