One of the things you should experience when visiting London is an English afternoon tea, a tradition that has its origins in the early nineteenth century and Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford who was feeling hungry during the afternoon. At the time it was common for people to have two meals per day, breakfast and dinner, so she started having tea and a light snack between them. In the beginning, she had her tea in her bedroom but over the time her friends joined her, and the tea tradition moved to the drawing room. Before long the whole English high society was enjoying tea and sandwiches every afternoon.
During my recent trip to London, my friends and I decided to indulge in a high tea at the Berkeley hotel. Located in the fashionable Knightsbridge area, Berkeley is a modern luxurious hotel that serves the only fashionista afternoon tea in London, the Prêt-à-Portea.
The Prêt-à-Portea tea is inspired by the fashion world. Every six months the menu is altered to reflect the changing seasons of fashion. This year the fashionista tea celebrates its 10 years with a special menu that comprises the chefs favourite creations over the last years.
You might also want to check these unusual places to have afternoon tea in London.
We arrived at the hotel just after 2 pm, and we were escorted to the Collins room, an elegant dining room decorated in pastel colours and filled with pink roses. We were sat at a corner table by the window and were given the afternoon tea menu. We decided to start with a glass of a Laurent-Perrier Rosé champagne, which we accompanied with a selection of mouth-watering savouries:
Roast corn fed chicken, celery and spring onion emulsion, baby gem
Duck egg mayonnaise, beef tomato and mustard cress on white
Home cured smoked salmon, celeriac remoulade, watercress on malted brown
Salt beef brisket, gherkins & Applewood on Brioche
Grilled aubergine, Piquillo pepper, martini olives, feta and hummus on onion bread
Beetroot gazpacho with tahini yoghurt
Spinach and feta muffin, crispy kale
Scorched tuna, horseradish beurre blanc, soya tapioca
The whole selection of savouries was incredible, but the highlight for me was the grilled aubergine, piquillo pepper, martini olives, feta and hummus on onion bread as it was very aromatic and mouth-filling it felt like you were eating it on a farm in Italy. Then came a 3-tier platter with desserts which I accompanied with a Blackcurrant & Hibiscus leaf tea that with its aromas complemented the selection of desserts.
Dolce and Gabbana’s duo of blackcurrant bavarois and star anise pannacotta topped with chocolate owl dress design.
Jason Wu’s romantic cherry bavarois and coconut cream topped with playful pink skirt and biscuit heel.
Manolo Blahnik’s Hangisi quintessential pointy toe stiletto ginger biscuit.
Burberry’s classic trench coat chocolate biscuit with creamy royal icing.
Charlotte Olympia’s dramatic cinnamon biscuit boot with black and red icing.
Simone Rocha’s ethereal embroidered tulle dress vanilla éclair filled with salted caramel crème patissière.
Nicholas Kirkwood’s pearl pump sacher torte layered with raspberry, chocolate ganache and Valrhona crémeux topped with delicate silver pearls.
Jimmy Choo’s glittery gala pointed-toe shoe velvet praline cream cake with hazelnut croquant and sweetheart bow.
Lanvin’s almond sponge, honeycomb and chocolate mousse draped with a light meringue ruffle.
Moschino’s blood orange Victoria sponge ‘yellow M’ handbag encased in red chocolate.
The desserts were a work of art and delicious at the same time. As a fan of praline, the Jimmy Choo’s glittery gala pointed-toe shoe blew me away.
If you are creative and like to bake you can buy the new Prêt-à-Portea, High-Fashion Bakes & Biscuits book by the head pastry chef Mourad Khiat. The book contains more than 20 secret recipes and techniques on how to create a selection of the Prêt-à-Portea cakes and biscuits at home.
The afternoon tea at the Berkeley was an incredible experience from start to finish. The impeccable service, the elegant atmosphere and the divine food made it a perfect day out. I totally recommend that you book the Prêt-à-Portea tea the next time you are in London.
Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7RL
+44 (0)20 7235 6000
For more information, you can visit their website here
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I was a guest of The Berkeley but as always opinions are my own.