No. 11 Cadogan Gardens – Afternoon Tea in the Drawing Room:
A couple of years ago I visited No. 11 Cadogan Gardens to review Tartufo, one of London’s hidden gems, where you could enjoy a three course lunch with half a bottle of remarkably GOOD wine for under £30. The price has now risen to to £35, but it is still one of central London’s greatest value meals. Value, because the food, at least when we tried it, is superb. Head Chef Manuel has worked with Alexis Gauthier at Gauthier Soho and his cooking is very much influenced by the Michelin star chef.
Despite the upmarket address, afternoon tea at No. 11 is equally well priced – £22 per person or £35 with a glass of champagne. And, it’s a beautiful hotel, with stunning interiors, though right at the moment it is being renovated. Tea is served in the Drawing Room, a quiet room at the back of the hotel, beautifully decorated with Toile de Jouy and brocade upholstered chairs, mirrors and a wealth of beautiful flower arrangement. Our tea was set up in front of the fireplace. All very elegant and comfortable but, just a little dark for good photography, so Mina from King’s Road Rocks and I moved into the conservatory where we could click away happily without having to worry about jaundiced pictures!
We started with a glass of champagne – always a good thing – while we picked our teas from the menu. Whilst there’s not the range of choice offered by some of the venues we’ve visited recently, there was still a Japanese sencha, one of my favourites.
Finger sandwiches came with classic fillings – smoked salmon with just a touch of creme fraiche, a beautifully flavoured ham and pickle, cheese and tomato, egg and cucumber with cream cheese. There was a generous portion for each of us too.
Scones, fruit and plain, came with a generous portion of clotted cream and with tiptrees strawberry jam. A real English classic, these could have been improved by being served warm, though that may simply have been that we inevitably spent a lot of time trying to take the perfect shot. I’m sure David Griffin doesn’t have that problem!
We loved the little dishes of creme brulee that were provided. Tiny, perfect versions of the full thing with wafer thin caramelised sugar toppings.
Cakes were delicious and quite different to the formal ‘fancies’ or patisserie cakes that are often served with afternoon teas in London. The carrot cake was beautifully moist and not over sweetened, while the chocolate cake was rich and dark. It was a refreshing change to have great examples of ‘real’ cakes.
Afternoon tea at No. 11 Cadogan Gardens costs £22 or £35 with champagne and is served from 2:00pm to 6:00pm. A minute’s walk from Peter Jones and the Duke of York Square, it’s a tranquil and relaxing haven if you’ve been shopping, at a price that should be affordable even if you’ve blown your paycheck at the shops.