Paddington Afternoon Tea – Athenaeum Hotel London:
Have you noticed the small bear statues around London? The so called Paddington Trail features 50 Paddington Bear statues dotted around the streets of London, all themed to match their location. Rather appropriately, the first one I found was at Borough Market – dubbed ‘The Taste of Peru’ – a little explorer Paddington decorated with chilli peppers.
If you are not up to scouring London to find bears, the afternoon tea at the Athenaeum hotel offers a far more relaxing experience. And while you won’t get a marmalade sandwich by itself, I can personally recommend the glazed ham with clementine marmalade.
Just off Park Lane, the Athenaeum won the the Tea Guild’s “Top London Afternoon Tea 2012”. It’s a very good indicator of quality and on this occasion we were not in the least bit disappointed. I was invited to review and was joined on this occasion by Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog in the elegant Garden Room of the hotel. It’s a really comfy place to enjoy tea and right now, elegantly decorated in preparation for Christmas, it looks very festive.
Starting with a glass of Lanson Black Label champagne, we chose our tea blends from a wooden ‘book’. I picked the Japanese Sencha green tea while Choclette indulged in Pai Mu Tan white tea. Proper leaf tea served from a silver teapot is nothing less than you’d expect from a hotel that has won Tea Guild awards. A delicate green tea that when brewed produces a light gold cup, Sencha is a Chinese tea made by steaming the tea leaves before they are rolled and dried. It creates a very fresh slightly astringent tea that is a great accompaniment for afternoon tea.
Sandwiches included the glazed ham with clementine marmalade, tea smoked corn fed chicken with avocado and mayonnaise, egg mayonnaise, smoked salmon and cream cheese with cucumber. Quite a classic selection with just a bit of a twist. Choclette, who is vegetarian, had her own plate and also managed to eat a few of the vegetarian sandwiches on the tea stand.
Two types of scones – plain and rather festive cranberry – were fresh and light. Neither of us were sure about the addition of orange marmalade, but it was genuinely delicious and served with a good dollop of clotted cream, created a not-too-sweet result. There was strawberry jam on offer though if you didn’t want to experiment.
The cake plate was laden with little morsels of loveliness. My personal favourite was the orange macaron, which was nicely chewy inside with a perfectly crisp shell. And, the flavour balance was really delicate. There was a pretty chocolate teacup filled with a light and delicate chocolate mousse, an orange bakewell and a passionfruit and orange jelly.
If that wasn’t enough, the cake trolley came round. Neither of us could eat another mouthful of food though, so we were offered a ‘takeaway’. My whisky fruit cake was stunning and if I am lucky enough to return to the Athenaeum I’ll be making a bee-line for that. Choclette managed to find a chocolate log…which of course went into her box!
The Athenaeum has a range of afternoon teas included the special limited edition Paddington tea and a Festive afternoon tea. They also have a gluten free option and a Gentleman’s afternoon tea. I’m a real fan of a good afternoon tea – and this one is one of the best I’ve tried in London recently. With the special Paddington tea it would be a great Christmas treat for anyone with small children. And, with plenty of Paddington Bears on sale in the lobby, if you want a child free experience, you could always buy a consolation gift for the left at home children!
London W1J 7BJ