What? Your great aunt Wilhelmina* has called, she is putting on an afternoon tea and has invited that you join her in her Georgian townhouse, for sandwiches, scones and of course an alcoholic tipple or two.
New? Zetter Townhouse Clerkenwell isn’t, but the tea is relatively new. During the summer, Benjamin Boeynaems (previously the head chef at Goring Hotel) joined the team as head chef and created a new afternoon tea based on both Aunt Wilhelmina and Uncle Seymour – who lives at Zetter Town House Marylebone.
Where? Just off Clerkenwell Road, Zetter Townhouse Clerkenwell sits on the edge of the quiet, cobblestoned, St John’s Square. If, like me, you are constantly seeking solitude in London, perfecting the fine art of finding places where the other 8 million Londoners don’t go, then there’s a pretty garden in St John Priory Church just off from the square. The sort you see in the ‘Hidden spots of London’ articles, although let’s not all rush there, otherwise I’ll need to find somewhere new to gain respite.
Zetter Townhouse Clerkenwell, 49-50 St John’s Square, Clerkenwell, EC1V 4JJ, www.thezettertownhouse.com
On the Menu: The savoury section is divided into two: Aunt Wilhelmina and Uncle Seymour. Choose the former and you’ll have egg and cress; coronation chicken and salmon sandwiches. Go for the latter and you’ll have bite sized mini croque monsieur; pasties and truffled sausage rolls. Afterwards the teas join up again for scones and cakes. You can also choose to have your tea with cocktails or sparkling wine.
The Look: One day, I too shall have a rambling Georgian townhouse and all my Jane Austen dreams will come true. I might even take interior advice from aunt Wilhelmina, who sought the help from Russell Sage Studios. The room is grand and dark, with deep red walls, dark leather and velvet wing back chairs, wooden floors and Persian rugs. Her collection of china, vases, candles and ornaments fill the room, if it was left to dust over it would have a Miss Havisham look about it. At one end sits a fire surrounded by an ornate mantelpiece, whilst at the other is a bar – a vital to any sitting room, naturally.
What We Ate: Two of us and two teas, we of course had to order one of each. Whilst Uncle Seymour’s tea might sound more exciting with devilled eggs and truffled sausage rolls, it was actually Aunt Wilhelmina’s tea that won us over with the classic sandwiches including an excellent calvados and honey roast ham with mustard mayonnaise. The ‘hearty treats’ in Seymour’s tea were just the wrong side of hearty, more on the morsel side, that said it’s a good alternative if sandwiches aren’t your thing.
Scones were warm, light and crumbly and served with plenty of Cornish clotted cream and strawberry jam – it’s always a good sign when they don’t scrimp on the cream, it needs to be piled high.
These were followed by the cakes. For the chocolate fans, there’s a bitter chocolate brownie topped with a raspberry coloured malted milk chocolate mousse. There’s also a particularly good autumnal salted caramel and apple choux bun filled with caramel cream. As a nod to the summer gone by (the tea launched in summer) the final cake is a tangy lemon and elderflower cake topped with piped Chantilly cream.
What We Drank: Alongside our pots of tea we both ordered the Vieux Kir, a glass of Perrier Jouët with an oaked yeast liqueur. Don’t be put off by the ‘yeast’ part, it’s has a nutty, toasted almost caramel flavour to it.
Go With: This is one for your mum, Grandma, Godmother, best friend; someone that you want to curl up with away from the cold streets of London and catch up with over a pot of tea, a cocktail and a scone heavily laden with clotted cream.
Final Word: If you haven’t tried the tea yet, then there is a festive edition coming out on the 1st December and I can’t think of anywhere better to curl up, in front of the fire and while away the hours.
*The fictional character who lives at Zetter Townhouse Clerkenwell, unless you really do have an aunt Wilhelmina
Zetter Townhouse Clerkenwell: 49-50 St John’s Square, Clerkenwell, EC1V 4JJ, www.thezettertownhouse.com