What? To celebrate their fifth anniversary in London, Balthazar has launched a new tea – The High Five Afternoon Tea. Head Pastry Chef Régis Beauregard has looked back over the cakes of the last five years, to find the most popular, the cakes that always get a “high five”. I say, “high five” because I don’t think anyone has ever actually high fived during an afternoon tea.
New? The High Five Afternoon Tea is relatively new, the restaurant itself has been open for five years and across the pond they’ve been feeding New Yorkers for 20 years now.
Where? In the perfect spot to feed the tourists and theatre goers, you’ll find Balthazar at 4-6 Russell Street, Covent Garden, WC2B 5HZ, www.balthazarlondon.com
On the Menu: Having looked back at the most popular cakes and pastries in the last five years, the menu contains classics such as The Gooseberry O’clock and The Union Macaroon, which follow after traditional sandwiches and buttermilk scones.
The Look: Housed in the old Theatre Museum, Balthazar London brings together New York style with the feeling of a classic, grand cafe. Red leather banquettes, gold fixtures, ornate mirrors, a station clock and high ceilings make up the look. There’s a bar at one end with imposing shelves filled with bottles and a private dining room on the first floor.
What We Ate: With there being so many afternoon teas in London there are more and more twists: afternoon teas inspired by science, teas which are actually breakfasts and teas where everything includes the same ingredient. It was rather refreshing to see that The Balthazar High Five afternoon tea keeps things traditional. Sandwiches were simple: pickled cucumber, smoked salmon, coronation chicken, egg mayo and a more American lobster prawn roll in a squidgy brioche bun.
Buttermilk scones were wonderfully light and with just the right amount of crumb, the perfect vessel to be piled high with clotted cream and jam. The cakes were both substantial and delicate, representing different parts of Balthazar. Balthazar’s awning is reimagined as a Valrhona chocolate guanaja sacher with a crisp shell of chocolate decorated with gold font. The joining together of France, America and England through the restaurant is seen in the Union Macaron- a sandwich of blue and red macaroons held together with white cream dotted with blueberries. The restaurant’s station clock features as The Gooseberry O’clock, a roulade of choux sponge infused with elderflower homemade gooseberry compote and vanilla yogurt mousseline. Try and find space for The Golden Bombe, a chocolate and hazelnut triumph bearing an ornate sugar spun 5 and gold leaf.
We left with a cannelés bordelaise to take home, a glorious mouthful of caramel, vanilla and rum.
What We Drank: We kept things classic going for a glass of Champagne Gaston Chiquet, but they have also created a cocktail for their birthday, the High Five Fizz. It’s made from Veuve Clicquot rosé Champagne, Pinky vodka, Cocchi Rosa Aperitivo Americano, crystalised rose petals and finished with a citrus twist. As for teas, they have Postcard teas including: Earl Grey, English breakfast, chai and ginger.
Go With: Given its central location it is in prime position for an afternoon pit stop when you’ve been showing your friends around London or if you’re meeting midway between zones.
Final Word: The only downside? We were told our tea would arrive in a haze of magical dry ice, but this was not the case. My Instagram story missed out…
Balthazar: 4-6 Russell Street, Covent Garden, WC2B 5HZ