Afternoon tea is an English tradition: every day tourists and Londoners alike flock to institutions like Claridge’s, Browns and The Ritz to experience the dainty finger sandwiches, warm, fluffy scones and elegant pastries, all presented on a classic three-tiered tea tray. But a few London restaurants have decided to switch things up a bit and offer an unusual spin on the staple sweet treat. Here are our favourites:
What: Burger tea
Why: Burger buffs, rejoice! Head to Soho or Chelsea for BRGR.Co’s meaty twist on tea – and we’re not talking the ham and mustard sandwiches you usually get. We’re talking a trio of sliders, including BRGR.Co’s cheeseburger, Southern-fried chicken, lobster and crayfish, served with adorable mini fries, a miniature vanilla milkshake and home-infused ice teas. And to finish – this is where The Handbook gets VERY excited – a triplet of small sweets: a salted caramel doughnut, raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake, and a gooey chocolate brownie. All for only £17 so you won’t break the bank.
What: A Southern spin on tea
Why: From beef to chicken, Ma’Plucker on Beak Street (not a pun – that’s the actual address) has created a Southern chicken spin on the classic tea-time treat. Starting with boozy iced tea, followed by unlimited pours of the soft stuff, tuck into mini pulled chicken, fried crispy-coated and rotisserie chicken breast burgers for only £16.50. Not to mention a trio of sweet treats for dessert, including Ma’s chocolate and corn flake Scotch egg, a sweet spin on the savoury snack.
Where: 75 Beak Street, Soho, W1F 9SS
What: Tokyo Tea Party
Why: With a weekly-changing menu, Kurobuta’s Tokyo Tea Parties keep you on your toes. From 3-6pm, indulge in an Asian-inspired afternoon treat: think Kabocha scones, artichoke chopsticks, toasty chicken katsu sandwiches and green tea ice cream lollipops. To wash it all down, you have the choice of coffee, tea and Kurobata’s super refreshing homemade iced tea, which comes in a multitude of flavours, from cranberry and crushed lemongrass to coconut, pineapple and yuzu. If you’re after bubbles with your tea, don’t despair – you can add a glass of prosecco or a cocktail to the mix too.
Where: Harvey Nichols, 109-125 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7RJ
What: All-American afternoon tea
Why: Christopher’s has decided to break the tea tradition and celebrate the finest flavours in baked form. Head to the Art Deco Martini Bar for the freshly-baked buttermilk scones with maple syrup, clotted cream, cherry jam and homemade Nutella, served with a choice of tea, tisane of Argo signature bottled iced tea (The Handbook is noticing a trend for iced tea here…). Celebrating a special occasion? Order a tea-based cocktail – how about the Earl Grey Mar-tea-ni, which mixes Earl Grey-infused Bombay Sapphire gin with Earl Grey syrup, lemon juice and orange bitters.
Where: 18 Wellington Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 7DD
What: Slick in the City
Why: Afternoon tea in Hackney? That’s what we thought… but low and behold, new restaurant Wringer and Mangle has launched a series of daily tea parties that are contemporary takes on the classic service. Food-wise, expect staple finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and an assortment of fancy cakes, but when it comes to tea, think gin. Gin cocktails to be exact, presented in self-cooling infusion jars and served in vintage tea cups, an onlooker wouldn’t spot the difference… That is, until they see you teetering home.
Where: 13-18 Sidworth Street, Hackney, E8 3SD
What: Tipsy tea
Why: Available only on weekends, make sure you book to avoid missing a most intriguing and unique selection of exquisite champagne and gin teas. Created especially by Passepartout and the household staff at Mr Fogg’s, this is an indulgent twist on tea, using Hendrick’s and Veuve Clicquot Rich champagne. Enjoy a single teapot with your dainty tea time snacks, including sandwiches, cakes and macaroons, or go bottomless. Why not? It’s the weekend!
Where: 15 Bruton Lane, Mayfair, W1J 6JD
What: Chinese afternoon tea menu
Why: On the fifth floor of Harrods, glamourous restaurant Chai Wu is hosting a unique tea experience embracing the rich history of Chinese tea. Indulge with a feast of refined cuisine, exquisitely made using a range of speciality and luxury ingredients. Ideal for a special occasion, the new afternoon tea is available every day, Champagne or no Champagne. The Handbook goes for the former every time.
Where: Fifth Floor, Harrods, Knightsbridge, SW1X 7XL