Afternoon Royal Tea at St Ermin’s Hotel, St James’s:
What better way to celebrate the Queen’s 90th Birthday than with a glass of fizz and an afternoon tea fit for royalty in the luxurious surroundings of St Ermin’s Hotel? I’ve visited St Ermins a few times but never for tea. Usually, I’ve been there to dine in Adam Handling’s rather special restaurant. So, I was delighted to be invited to review the new Royal Tea – dismayed to find I couldn’t make the original date – and then excited to get an invitation to visit a few weeks later on a date of my choice.
St Ermin’s Hotel has one of the prettiest lobbies in London. Ornate plasterwork and splendid marble pillars are punctuated by a stunning winding staircase that leads up to the new tea room. Had there been a red carpet I’d definitely have felt like a star.
The tea is a classic, with a selection of Newby’s teas, champagne or a special cocktail called ‘going strong at 90’ which is champagne and Chambon liqueur.
Service is on an eclectic tea set which sadly didn’t display the flowering jasmine I’d picked. But it did all look very pretty – especially the tea tower itself, nearly toppling from the selection of lush pastries on the top plate.
We were restrained and started with the savouries – two finger sandwiches, a tiny toasted brioche filled with dressed Cornish lobster and an open sandwich of smoked salmon on organic brown bread. A really well-balanced selection, I’d muttered about how I found cucumber sandwiches a bit boring but had to eat my words here – careful prep meant that the cucumber was beautifully crisp and contrasted well with the cream cheese and soft bread. And, if it hadn’t been for the promise of things to come, we’d both have taken up the offer of a refill.
Scones arrived warm from the oven. There are plenty of different styles of scones – even the size makes a difference to the end result. St Ermins serves tiny scones so that each diner gets three (with different flavours). It’s probably the trickiest option because the smaller they are made, the more likely they are to be dry. Not here, we relished the chance to slather each one with lashings of clotted cream and strawberry jam.
We started our selection of pastries and sweets with a delicious Tongan vanilla custard set with poached Yorkshire rhubarb and royal meringue. I loved the custard, closer to a pannacotta, and thoroughly enjoyed the tart contrast of rhubarb. The meringue seemed to be more decorative, tiny ‘gems’ set on the rim of the dish.
Both of us were somewhat hesitant to try the ‘Golden Orb’ – a generous shiny green dome (bejewelled glaze), but the pistachio filling was delicious and the shortbread base was crisp and light.
The Royal Box was a traditional opera style cake, with fresh raspberry and rich chocolate ganache centre. My chocoholic disposition adored this and apart from the fact that I’d eaten a lot already I would have devoured more of this have been quite happy with a larger slice.
The ‘Crowning Glory’ – an espresso choux bun was, again, a very generous size but light enough to not be too overwhelming. I particularly liked the gold glazed coffee beans and gilded crust with coffee icing used to garnish the buns.
All washed down with plenty of tea and Laurent Perrier champagne, we both thoroughly enjoyed our Royal Tea. At £35pp including the welcome cocktail, or £49pp with a half bottle of champagne I can’t think of any better way to wish Her Majesty a happy birthday. You have until 31st August to do so – and given the importance of any 90th Birthday it would be rude not to!
Why not pin this post for later
Royal Tea is served in the tearoom, but on the day of the Queen’s big ‘patrons lunch’ on The Mall (12th June)- the St Ermin’s will be holding a street party (serving the RoyalTea) on the courtyard. Why not join in the celebrations …
St. Ermin’s Hotel,
London SW1H 0QW