A Tranquil Festive Afternoon Tea at Pont Street Restaurant:
Shopping at Christmas can be quite overwhelming. Pont Street Restaurant, equidistant from Sloane Square and Knightsbridge, is perhaps the perfect escape. A discrete, comfortable Modern European restaurant and bar, part of Belgraves, an equally discrete hotel. This place lacks some of the pazazz of Park Lane, but, it does offer the opportunity to chill out over a very fine festive afternoon tea in an excellent location.
On arrival we are seated in one of the comfortable semi circular banquettes in the restaurant and offered a very welcome glass of champagne while we select our tea from the menu. There’s a shortish but nicely balanced selection of Jing teas, though, having been brief by Jing, I miss the timer for my Jasmine Silver Needle which needs to be brewed using water at 80C for three minutes, for the perfect cup.
The tea itself is a splendidly classic affair though, with sandwiches to start (fillings of ham and mustard, cucumber and cheese with pickle). My companion doesn’t eat tomato and I’m not sure if the selection has been tailored for her, but we certainly don’t have anything that would have caused a problem, here or anywhere else on the table).
The tea tower is laden with two plates of fancies and one of savoury canapes. We particularly like the warm Stilton cheese balls served with quince jelly and this rather luxurious selection of savoury canapes reminds me how good it is to have the addition of savouries as well as sandwiches.
No matter how good the cakes and fancies are, afternoon teas can get a bit heavy – and while sandwiches are generally excellent quality, treats like a little smoked salmon and salmon keta on pumpernickel, quail eggs tarts with hollandaise and brandy pork terrine on toast are just a little more flavourful and a lot more decadent.
Scones arrive with a generous helping of clotted cream and home made strawberry jam. We happily munch our way through the lot – probably not a wise move given the generous selection of cakes and fancies, but these are very good indeed with a soft fluffy middle and nicely baked shells.
Of course, as it should be, the fancies and cakes are the star act, with plenty of festive afternoon tea ideas.
The bottom of the two plates has a delicious chestnut and brandy macaron which has the perfect balance of crisp outer shell and soft centre and a definite taste of chestnut. The cranberry and celmentine eclair comes with a piece of something that looks a bit like a florentine on top. Although florentines were my mother’s favourite Christmas biscuit, this is my least favourite of the fancies, the topping overwhelms a light and perfect eclair and for me, doesn’t quite work. But, the opera cake with its tiny gold leaf on top is divine with a light ganache topping and layers of sponge with coffee and chocolate cream
On the top plate there are tiny mince pies with the shortest of shortcrust pastry hiding a mouthful of mincemeat, light and frothy shots of Christmas trifle and some gingerbread pramma girls. By this stage we are defeated and sit testing the gingerbread by breaking off arms and legs…my advice is to limit yourself to just one scone if you want to have space for the fancies.
This festive afternoon tea is restrained and elegant. If you are a little tired by Christmas excesses, it would be a great place to escape. While it is obviously a Christmas selection it’s not overwhelming. And, at £35 a person (£45 with a glass of Veuve Clicquot champagne), it’s excellent value without any compromise on luxury.
Pont St at Belgraves Hotel – Knightsbridge
20 Chesham Place,
London, SW1X 8HQ
For more about the Pont Street Restaurant afternoon tea see my previous post
Pont Street Restaurant – Eating Cake and a Whole Lot More – Marie Antoinette Afternoon Tea from Sophie Mitchell