With Veganuary and Dry January out the way, London’s afternoon tea scene picks up in February with a fresh collection of menus to try — including a Valentine’s Day special, and a new menu at a famous London landmark. Here’s what we’ll be scoffing this month.
French afternoon tea at Westminster Abbey
You may have heard — Notre-Dame is coming to London. Westminster Abbey is hosting an augmented reality experience, allowing visitors to explore the famous Parisian cathedral. To coincide with that, the Abbey’s Cellarium cafe and restaurant is serving a new afternoon tea with a French twist.
Head into the medieval cloisters to dine on a menu that includes Quiche Lorraine, mini brioche, scones with jam and cream, macaron, crème patisserie tart, and a mini opera cake, served with unlimited tea or coffee. Tip: ask for a table in the upstairs dining area: the glass ceiling offers views of the Abbey building.
Notre-Dame Afternoon Tea at Westminster Abbey. £35.50 per person, available 7 February-1 June.
Valentine’s Afternoon Tea at Great Scotland Yard Hotel
Things get romantic at the Great Scotland Yard Hotel, which has teamed up with perfume brand Floris London for a limited edition Valentine’s Afternoon Tea.
The menu has been designed to combine the aromas and flavours of Floris London’s Santal fragrance with pastries and teas. We’re told to expect top notes of bergamot and cardamom, heart notes of lavender and nutmeg and base notes of amber and vanilla.
In eating terms, that translates into dishes including a wild mushroom and rocket quiche, a Jerusalem artichoke and cheddar Yorkshire pudding, a chestnut, blackcurrant and hazelnut love sponge, and bergamot and jasmine mousse heart.
Rhubarb and rose jam is served alongside scones and clotted cream.
Valentine’s Afternoon Tea. £59 per person, or £70 with champagne. Available 12-18 February.
Bees In Bloom afternoon tea at Shangri-La The Shard
TĪNG restaurant at Shangri-La The Shard does a stellar line in seasonal afternoon teas, its latest version being a bee-themed offering, in collaboration with locally-based luxury jewellery brand Alex Monroe.
Finger sandwiches are served alongside pastries including The Bee, The Ladybug and The Marguerite Daisy, made from honey from local bees, as well as the venue’s signature miniature chocolate Shard pastry, decorated with a honeycomb pattern, filled with berry mousse and served over clouds of dry ice.
The proceeds from each tea sold will raise funds for Bees for Development, a charity supporting beekeepers in developing nations.
Bees In Bloom afternoon tea. From £79 per person. Available from 12 February.
Theatre Afternoon Tea at the Strand Palace Hotel
The theatrical art of mise en abîme is the theme of the Theatre Afternoon Tea at the Strand Palace Hotel, where things are not as they seem. Begin with a peacock tail or red stiletto cocktail, before tucking into a Samba Sambal wrap with grilled chicken, sambal mayo, mango, lime, and coriander, or the Stagehands’ Sausage Roll with red onion marmalade.
The sweet section of the menu includes a Tutu Tartlet with white chocolate ganache and raspberry and rose mousse; a ‘Curtain Call’ slice of red velvet cake with mascarpone mousseline, draped in milk chocolate; and what appears to be a simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but is actually cake and cream. Intriguing.
Theatre Afternoon Tea. £49 per person on weekdays/£55 per person on weekends. Available now, until mid-May.
Chocolate afternoon tea at the National Gallery
Ochre, the restaurant inside the National Gallery, launches a Chocolate Afternoon tea inspired by 18th century painting The Lavergne Family Breakfast by Jean-Etienne Lotard, which is the centrepiece of a current exhibition at the gallery.
The menu pays homage to the artwork, which features an elegantly dressed woman enjoying an array of coffee and chocolate, through decadent treats and pastries including chocolate scones, a white chocolate tart and more. There are savoury items to break up the sweetness, including egg mayonnaise, and ham and tomato with mustard mayonnaise sandwiches.
Choose from a selection of teas and coffees to accompany your meal, including a chocolate tea.
Chocolate afternoon tea at Ochre. £55 per person. Available from 12 February.
Masterful Art Afternoon Tea at The Rosewood London
The ever-magnificent art-themed afternoon tea at the Rosewood London (consistently one of the best themed afternoon teas in London) has had another makeover, resulting in the Masterful Afternoon Tea. Tuck into mini edible replicas of some of the world’s most famous artworks, by the likes of Yayoi Kusama, Vincent Van Gogh, Andy Warhol, Banksy and David Hockney.
It’s basically a ‘greatest hits’ mash-up of the various menus that have been served over the years, including Banksy’s Girl with a Balloon recreated as a white chocolate cube filled with a light vanilla cream choux, salted caramel, and chocolate crémeux, and Van Gogh’s Almond Blossoms in the form of an apricot peach compote, with aromatic jasmine and vanilla bavarois, coated in a light blue glaze, and finished with chocolate almond blossom branches.
But in our humble opinion, most impressive is Dali’s Lobster Telephone, made of a Valrhona Chocolate sponge with a passionfruit jelly insert and garnished with a passionfruit chocolate lobster.
Masterful Art Afternoon Tea. From £68 per person. Available now.
L’amour Du Thé afternoon tea at Socca
French-Mediterranean restaurant Socca blends English afternoon tea traditions with the taste of the Côte d’Azur with its new L’amour Du Thé afternoon tea menu.
Begin with prawn and lobster roll; crab quiche; and Welsh lamb croquette. Instead of scones, the middle tier is laden with an array of chocolate chouquette, and the meal finished with a selection of pastries including rhubarb and custard, and lemon meringue pie. Naturally, with those French influences, champagne is available to wash it down, at an extra cost.
L’amour Du Thé afternoon tea. From £35 per person. Available from 14 February.
Smeg x Sofitel afternoon tea at Sofitel London
The Sofitel London St James Hotel has launched a new afternoon tea in the Rose Lounge. It’s a collab with appliance company Smeg, so is heavily branded — dine surrounded by the pastel-hued gadgets, on a menu that blends traditional English afternoon tea with Smeg’s Italian heritage, and the hotel chain’s French roots.
As you’d expect, the menu makes ample use of Smeg appliances, and includes chilli cheese panini served direct from a Smeg toaster, and rum panettone topped with whipped cream fresh from a Smeg stand mixer. Other dishes include a mushroom quiche, truffle egg mayonnaise sandwich, and a pear and caramel tart.
Smeg x Sofitel afternoon tea. From £70 per adult (or £80 including a glass of champagne), £40 per child. Available now until summer 2024.
Afternoon tea at NoMad London
Covent Garden hotel NoMad London has launched its first ever afternoon tea, combining finger sandwiches with a selection of scones and sweets, served alongside a tea-inspired cocktail menu (which can be made alcohol-free on request).
Savoury dishes include egg salad with black truffle and chive; smoked salmon on an ‘everything bagel’; and a nod to NoMad’s New York roots with a pastrami, daikon and mustard sandwich.
Sweet treats include tropical cheesecake, and lemon, vanilla and olive oil choux. Some interesting scone flavours as well, such as rum currant and orange zest, and blue cheese with sage.
Afternoon tea at NoMad London. £55 per person. Available now.
Afternoon tea at SushiSamba
Also hopping on the afternoon tea bandwagon for the first time is SushiSamba Covent Garden, offering an afternoon tea twist on some of the restaurant’s most popular dishes — think wagyu katsu sliders and crispy lobster taquitos, along with the traditional scones and cream, plus chocolate cream puffs, and Battenberg with a yuzu twist.
Afternoon tea at SushiSamba. £65 per person, or £80 with champagne. Available now, Monday-Friday only.