Last Sunday The Handbook took a little trip to St Ermin's Hotel in St James for a spot of afternoon tea.
With it being the first warm day in months and with sun actually shining we found though that the Tea Lounge was a little oppressive and heavy; purpley walls with white gilding, gave way to a brown carpet covered in beige hexagons, whilst the chairs were a print of yellow, grey and brown – a pattern overload so to say. And yet the china that the tea was served on was light and white, decorated with delicate blue and pink spots, stars and birds with dashes of gold –very pretty. We felt the room needed to be stripped back and some of the patterns could be done away with, to lift the atmosphere and lighten things up.
But onto the tea the most important part! We were there for the new Spring afternoon tea which comes with free flowing bellinis – the perfect way to welcome in the first glimmers of sun. On Sunday afternoons throughout March the tea is also available as the Mother’s Day Ultimate Afternoon Tea which begins with a presentation on the evolution, customs and etiquette of English Afternoon Tea by Newby Teas and finishes with tea to take home!
We started with generous sized peach bellinis and sandwiches – they kept with traditional fillings: beef and horseradish, smoked salmon and caviar and cucumber and cream cheese – but all the breads were different. The prawn sandwich was finished off with cranberry bread and the chicken and mango was served between slices of nutty bread. Equally the sweet, light scones were given a twist with a hint of orange and a scattering of raisins and were served with homemade jam and clotted cream, which we devoured with proper sized pots of lapsang tea – none of these teeny tiny doll sized pots of tea.
We followed this with cakes – the two that really stood out for us were the Yuzu meringue pie – for those of you who haven’t heard of a yuzu it is a citrus fruit from East Asia and it is hailed as the next super food so keep your eyes peeled because I have a feeling it will soon be all over London, and the chocolate and raspberry macaroon which was also delicious!
There were just a couple of little things that we noticed – whilst they had gone to the effort of choosing different breads for the sandwiches to compliment the fillings, we couldn’t help but notice that the bread was rather dry and quite hard on one occasion. The scones were also brought out before anything else meaning that they were cold by the time we had eaten the sandwiches and the peanut butter cake whilst tasty, didn’t have any hint of peanut butter to it – sponge with chocolate cream would have been more apt.
But the staff were lovely and the bellinis were definitely free flowing. We left a little tipsy and full of the joys of spring to sit in St James Park and bask in the sun.