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Sunday, 25 May 2014
Words & Photography by Florentyna Leow and Luiz Hara
Name: Afternoon Tea at the Dorchester
Where: The Dorchester, Park Lane, Mayfair, London, W1K1QA
Cost: Afternoon tea is priced at £45 per person, £55 with a glass of Laurent-Perrier Brut NV Champagne or £59 with Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé Champagne.
About: Afternoon tea – the mere mention conjures up women in frilly dresses on a garden patio, tiers of little cakes and sandwiches, and the sound of tinkling teacups. Never mind that afternoon tea for most Brits is usually a mug of builder’s tea, and if you’re feeling posh, a rich tea biscuit. In any case, afternoon tea is one of those quintessentially English things that you have to experience. So I was delighted to have the privilege of experiencing the Laurent Perrier Champagne Afternoon Tea at The Dorchester. You can’t get much posher than that!
Thankfully, afternoon tea at The Promenade is far more relaxed than its opulent surroundings would suggest – no ties or suits required, and there were guests in jeans and polo shirts. The 2 ½ hour window is ample time for guests to enjoy a leisurely afternoon nibbling on endless rounds of finger sandwiches and buttery scones.
What We Ate: The finger sandwiches, made with artisanal bread, were impeccably made. When the waitress arrived with a tray and asked us if we wanted seconds, we couldn’t say no to more chicken and mustard, smoked salmon, and tomato-mozzarella sandwiches. If we hadn’t had dinner waiting for us, thirds, even fourths, would definitely have been possible!
Next was the cream tea – warm, crumbly, buttery scones which we smeared with generous dollops of Cornish clotted cream and their homemade jams, including a very seasonal rhubarb and angelica jam.
We were also presented with a selection of adorable French pastries. In general, these were top-notch examples of patisserie, but two in particular stood out for me.
One was the vanilla panna cotta with a tangy rhubarb centre, which was incredibly light and fresh, almost cloud-like. The other was a passionfruit chocolate tartlet, unexpectedly tangy and delightfully mousse-like.
What We Drank: I tried two Laurent Perrier Champagnes. The Brut NV is delicate in style, with notes of apples, lemon and slight toast, a really elegant wine. The Brut Rosé comes in a beautiful embossed bottle, and is one of the few rosé Champagnes still made by the traditional but (for the vigneron) hair-raising saignée method which involves leaving the skins of the red grapes in contact with the wine until it is precisely the right shade. If it is left a few hours too long, the whole batch turns red and has to be discarded. But the benefit is that the wine keeps a highly expressive bouquet. Made from 100% pinot noir, it has intense notes of red berry fruit and black cherries.
Besides the Champagne, they also offer a generous selection of teas. There’s a tea for everyone: single estate, house-blended, black, caffeine-free, Chinese and Japanese teas. We tried their house-blended Darjeeling and their Paris blend. Both were wonderfully fragrant and delicious.
Likes: I was very pleased with the selection of teas, and the variety of pastries on offer. Service was friendly and attentive. The Champagne was superb, particularly the rosé.
Verdict: This is one of those rare animals – a delicious afternoon tea in a beautifully posh yet relaxed setting, whose pleasure is optionally heightened with a glass of lovely Laurent-Perrier Champagne. Highly recommended.