Renowned British fashion designer Matthew Williamson has once again created an afternoon tea for Balthazar, inspired by his Autumn Winter 2015 collection. His designs take inspiration from the twelve signs of the zodiac, with birthstones such as amethyst and sapphire influencing the rich jewel colour palette which is brought over to the tea created by Balthazar’s Head Pastry Chef, Régis Beauregard.
On arrival at Balthazar we were welcomed by a friendly host who saw us to our table, meandering our way there I observed that it was busy but not too hectic. Jazz music played softly in the background as we settled in to the comfortable booth, I noticed that bread was on display and was instantly pleased with a restaurant that would decorate their venue with carbs –a diner after my own heart. Our waiter arrived with menus and was curt as he explained the options; he didn’t take well to going off -script by asking to try a different cocktail than included with the tea or asking about vegetarian options. All the pastry is made with gelatine but can be made vegetarian on request except the almond & hazelnut rocher, which was much more politely explained to us by the manager.
The afternoon tea kicks off with savoury sandwiches like cucumber, pea purée & mint, and smoked salmon with a lemon crème fraiche. The scones are plain and fruitless which is slightly altered from my personal preferences of plain but with fruit, the jam accompanying was far too runny though and even the smallest amount ended up dripping off and making a mess but the flavours were good. The desserts are always my favourite part of a tea as it seems to be where the creativity really gets going. The blueberry macaron with vanilla & white chocolate Chantilly was easily my favourite as it crumbled in my mouth when bitten and had a secret burst violet consommé jelly inside to give it a fruit kick. Other options we received were a fruit tart, chocolate cake and gooseberry & yoghurt roulade.
The afternoon tea can be turned cosmic with the addition of the ‘cosmic cocktail’ consisting of Campari, Mandarine Napoleon & sugar cube topped with Champagne which is a much softer and sweeter drink than Champagne alone. I’m not actually a Champagne fan so we asked if the head barman, Brian Silva could go slightly more off road than the typical, hard cocktails on the menu as he enjoys strong and punchy flavours and most of the cocktails on their main menu reflect this also. Luckily he was kind enough to conjure up a cocktail to suit a sweeter tooth, and he made a wonderful fruity sweet cocktail, inspired by the flower markets and shops in Covent Garden. If you want to shy away from alcohol the tea selection includes Earl Grey, Darjeeling, English Breakfast, Chai, Assam, Jasmine, Sencha, Chamomile and Fresh Mint.
The tea was pleasant and the restaurant itself is in a great location, only a few minutes’ walk from Covent Garden and the buzzing surrounding area. The service in the middle let down the experience but was saved by the manager who was polite and helpful and made sure our needs were met.
The Matthew Williamson Afternoon Tea will be served until Friday 5th February 2016.