New? The Festive Afternoon Tea menu has been specifically created for Christmas and is available in the glamorous surroundings of the hotel’s Gin Palace cocktail bar until 31st December 2016.
Where? Strand Palace Hotel, 372 Strand, WC2R 0JJ, www.strandpalacehotel.co.uk
On the menu: Traditional sandwich fillings have been swapped with much-loved Christmas flavours to create the likes of turkey and cranberry, and stilton and tomato pickle. The sweet side of the tea includes festive favourites like mince pies, stollen bites, rich fruit cake marinated in house brandy, chocolate and amaretto cheesecake, bosco tart and macaroons.
First Impressions: As most of central London is currently, the Charing Cross hotel was busy. The tea will be served in the Gin Palace but for my visit I was in the Lounge bar, tucked away in a cosy alcove.
The Look: The alcove we were in was decorated with floral wallpaper with an unusual, green lampshade that looked suspiciously like a palm tree…or artichoke, we couldn’t decide. In-keeping with the season, and the tea, the Christmas decorations were up including a sizeable tree.
What We Ate: The tea looked impressive upon arrival and very festive with 2 candy canes resting on the sweet shelf. All the sandwiches had nice soft bread, no dry corners in sight which tends to be a problem for afternoon teas – my favourite was the egg mayonnaise with watercress. I enjoyed all of the cakes with no duds although i enjoyed the miniature bosco tart the most. It’s worth noting that the cheesecake was delicious but most definitely vanilla flavoured and not chocolate and amaretto as advertised which I actually preferred but others may not if expecting what’s on the menu. The scones were warm from the oven and a distinctive crispness on the outside without being stale.
What We Drank: I’m not a typical fan of mulled wine, usually opting for mulled cider instead but the warm glass of homemade spicy mulled wine here was just what the doctor ordered; not too strong and deliciously sweet. Those shying away from alcohol can go for the loose leaf, herbal infused teas grown in the SACRED plantations in Sri Lanka.
Go With: Fans of Christmas dinner as the tea is a bitesize version of it with turkey, mince pies and cheese.
Final Word: The tea is drenched with Christmas cheer and is a good opportunity to reacquaint yourself with all the flavours of Christmas before the big day. My only gripe is that I found the sweet side of the tea quite bready between the stolen bites, minced pies and fruit cake; the cheesecake added a welcome softness of cream and a few more like this would have given the festive tea a perfect score.