Back to Classics – The New Wedgwood Afternoon Tea:
I have long been a fan of the afternoon tea served at The Langham. It is partly a function of the elegant setting – the high-ceilinged palm room with comfortable banquettes, beautifully floral arrangements and a pianist at the grand piano.
The patisserie of Cherish Finden, the outgoing pastry chef, is what, in the past, has brought me back there again and again. I was intrigued then, to be invited to review the new tea, the work of newly appointed Executive Pastry Chef, Andrew Gravett and his team.
We were greeted with a refreshing non-alcoholic cocktail; light and fragrant it was a lovely way to start the afternoon.
And a glass of champagne – NV Laurent Perrier Rose for me. There’s an excellent and well-balanced tea menu at The Langham and although the Lapsang Souchang my companion Amanda from Glamorous Glutton was craving wasn’t on the menu, it was readily available on request. I enjoyed the Wedgewood blend tea throughout while she started with the off piste Lapsang Souchang,
The sandwiches, which we started with, have had a makeover too, thanks to Chris King, the Executive Chef of the Langham. Just the classic English cucumber with cream cheese and chives remains from the last menu. I loved the combination of Burford Brown eggs with marinated artichoke on rosemary bread, an Italianate finger sandwich that, even for someone who rarely orders eggs, was absolutely delicious. And, the Scottish smoked salmon sandwich was delicately seasoned with Sarawak pepper and preserved lemon cream. Light and piquant, a lovely flavour combination. Beef pastrami with sauce ‘Albert’ (horseradish), watercress and caramelised onion bread was full of taste, though the pastrami was a little chewy and the mixture hard to eat daintily. Prawns were served in a potato bun with iceberg lettuce and a prawn cocktail sauce, dusted with a little tomato powder.
All really moreish and if we hadn’t indulged in the ‘high tea’ option, I’d have been eating a second helping.
The Langham has a lovely variation on afternoon tea called ‘High Tea’ where in addition to your sandwiches, there’s a savoury course where you can choose from three starter sized dishes. My crispy duck leg was a kind of rissole, served with cranberries, a celeriac mash and a lovely rich jus.
My companion ordered the beetroot salad and was impressed by the delicate pickled slices of heritage beetroot, served with goat’s cheese and a honey dressing. She found the pecan crumble a little sweet.
A palate cleanser arrived. The menu version was a strawberry champagne sorbet, but since I have an allergy to strawberries I was served mango sorbet with fresh berries
Scones arrived with a generous helping of Cornish clotted cream and strawberry jam, still warm from the oven. At The Langham, the scones are medium-size which helps ensure that they are soft and moist rather than dry and biscuity. And, somehow we managed to eat the lot, despite the patisserie to follow.
The cakes are the crowning glory of any afternoon tea and we were impressed by the beautiful plate which arrived. My personal favourite was Paris Brest, a crunchy choux pastry with what is described as ‘lightened pecan cream and caramelised pecans’. I don’t know how the cream is made lighter, but it was truly delectable.
Decidedly Madeleine looked stunning – a crisp shell of dark Itakuja chocolate with a pretty pearlised finish round a classic Madeleine shape. One bite revealed a passion fruit jelly topped madeleine. While it was truly beautiful, we both found it very sweet. I’m sure Jaffa Cake fans would be very impressed though.
Spherically Challenged was a delicious light coconut, liquid raspberry and Manjari mousse in a chocolate shell. A little sweet, but a beautiful patisserie.
Babalicious, a fabulous combination of flavours and textures, with a light Jivara whipped chocolate mousse topping the blackcurrant and star anise baba with crunchy chocolate praline pearls, was mouthwateringly good.
The tiny, caramelised puff pastry mille-feuille ‘one in a million’ was both beautiful and perfectly constructed. Topped with a thin wafer of white chocolate it looked stunning, but we were both beginning to suffer from death by chocolate by this stage. Afternoon tea patisserie does tend to be a little sweet and, although the Lanham tea is tagged as lighter and healthier, it seemed to be quite chocolate focussed. Or perhaps, it was simply that the reduced fats and lighter textured creams allowed the sweetness of the pastries to shine through?
Overall, it was an excellent tea with impeccable service. And, all the pastries were delicious, I’d personally have preferred one slightly less sweet patisserie but I know plenty of people who would have thought of this as perfection.
Thank you to all the staff at the Langham for such a wonderful afternoon.
The Langham Afternoon Tea starts at £49 per person, £59 per person including a glass of N.V Laurent-Perrier Brut Champagne and £64 per person including a glass of N.V Laurent-Perrier Brut Champagne Rosé. High tea, with the extra savoury dish, has a premium of £8.00
Afternoon tea runs from 12.15pm to 5.30pm
Palm Court at The Langham,
1 Portland Place
Marylebone, London W1B 1JA