What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than having tea at the glorious Gilbert Scott? Without a doubt it is one of my favourite buildings in London: the grandeur, the faded Victorian glamour (it opened in the 1870s) and the rich colours so it only seemed right that we took a little trip there on Sunday to indulge in the Brontё inspired afternoon tea. Available until the 12th February the tea has been devised by General Manager and chef, Chantelle Nicholson and cult artist and creator of Visitoriana, Charlotte Cory and is a traditional Yorkshire Victorian tea which focuses on the lives of the Brontё sisters.
What we loved was the attention to detail and how the cakes and sandwiches were interwoven with the history of the sisters and their home, each of which was described on the back of the menu – take Tabby’s Parkin cake – the recipe used to create this regional favourite was inspired by the recipe that their servant, Tabby, used. We also loved the cocktail – a blend of gin, sloe gin and a little apricot liqueur, just enough to leave us suitably mellow and take the edge of our Saturday night induced headache.
We started with sandwiches: Wensleydale and cheese, coronation chicken and egg and cress, for me sandwiches are not necessarily the key part of an afternoon tea, but they are what you generally start with – so you need to get them right – and these just didn’t quite make the mark, verging on doll size, the bread was dry and the filling, although good, just wasn’t enough to compensate the dry exterior.
But moving on, to Yorkshire pudding with beef – perhaps not a classic for afternoon tea, but an absolutely brilliant addition and of course perfect for a Yorkshire inspired tea! The pistachio cream was rich, nutty and was a good bridge between the savoury and sweet sections.
Perhaps the Brontёs didn’t eat scones but we can’t pretend that they weren’t sorely missed. We were a little jealous of the table next to us who we eating scones with lashings of clotted cream as part of the classic afternoon tea!
The parkin cake was dense, moist and brought up to date with salted caramel cream, it was delicious. A chocolate and liquorice cake which we were dubious about actually blended together harmoniously and little pots of rhubarb Eton mess were creamy and tart without being sharp or sour.
For anyone who has an interest in the Brontё sisters or indeed just the Victorians – then this is the perfect treat in the most appropriate of restaurants!