The words ‘afternoon tea’ conjure up thoughts of luxury, decadence, and, perhaps most commonly, quintessential English-ness. Chances are if you wanted to take someone for an English foodie experience, you’d take them to a nice hotel for some scones and tea. Slightly more elegant than the local chippy, anyway.
But beyond the classic British offering, plenty of hotels and restaurants are now bringing quirkier offerings to the table – from book and movie themed, to food platters inspired by locations the world over. Last week, I had a taste of international afternoon delights with Lastminute.com, and believe me, it was pretty amazing.
Forgetting when I dressed for the gloomy weather that morning that The May Fair is a fancy 5* hotel, I turned up in an old black Primark hoody. Well. That’s awkward. Conor had put his nice shoes on and everything. Luckily, the hotel staff and fellow guests didn’t seem to mind me doing the casual thing. Phew.
Once we’d said our hellos, our hands were soon occupied with welcome cocktails. Welcome cocktails that basically continued for two hours, which was FABULOUS with me. I sipped on a mighty strong Pisco Sour, then a Sangria Lemonade, followed by multiple glasses of Moet, my glass never seeming to reach empty thanks to the highly attentive staff.
On the table next to us, we discovered some ‘classic’ English dishes – scones with jam and cream, and strawberry cake bites, packed with creamy fruit filling. And they were delicious.
However, there was also plenty that fell far from what you’d expect from a traditional afternoon tea in London. One of my favourite dishes was the Beef Tartare, a miniature bowl of quality minced beef, well-seasoned with a variety of herbs and chilli, I could have eaten the whole tray of them.
Across the room from us, we discovered a table holding some dishes with a Peruvian twist, which was an unusual but brilliant choice. The Salmon and Jalapeno bite-size tacos in particular were mind-blowingly awesome. Definitely HOT (in the spicy sense) but so good.
During a demonstration, the chef showed us how they were made – although he refused to give away the other secret ingredients in the Jalapeno sauce…
The same table was also home to some chunky bruschetta, topped with vibrant green spinach, mozzarella and sun dried tomatoes (I liked) and some churro-style mini doughnuts with a chocolate dip (I also liked!).
Another set of scones perched to our left – although unlike the ones we’d had previously, these tasty things had CHOCOLATE CHIPS IN. And not just any chocolate. This was Charbonnel et Walker chocolate…yes and please and thank you very much indeed! Creamy tiramisu and individual chocolates added to the decadence of the table, as well as quirky crab and avocado bruschetta.
Obviously, the clue’s in the name, and as well as the cocktails, we sipped on tea (and coffee…I know, terrible…) as we tucked in. I plumped for a good size pot of the hibiscus tea. Usually, I can’t deal with weak hot drinks – thankfully, this tea was strong and fruity.
I have to admit, usually when I think of Lastminute.com, I think of hotels and holidays above anything else. But the site actually has a really impressive range of experiences, including plenty of afternoon teas. From straight-up afternoon tea experiences at 5* hotels, to Asian and Deep South inspired ones, there’s a whole lot of creativity when it comes to tea time! Check out the range on offer here.
I had such a great afternoon at the May Fair, and definitely left really full. It’s a really nice space, and I loved hearing from the chefs about how they create such inspired menus and tasty dishes!
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