If there is one thing that the Celeste restaurant is not, it’s subtle – walking into the restaurant at The Lanesborough is like walking into a spectacular, palatial painting. Duck egg blue walls are adorned with Bas-relief friezes, paintings and filled book cases, there are touches of gold and ornate detail – as I say, not very subtle, but not gaudy in-your-face. A raised platform runs around two sides of the room pinned by fluted columns (sit there if you like to people watch) and it’s all lit by a domed glass roof and magnificent chandeliers that cascade down over the diners.
We were there for the mothers2mothers afternoon tea (read more about it here) which is running from the 6th-24th March. The tea began with sandwiches and whilst the afternoon tea is the pastry chef’s time to showcase his skills in the cakes that follow, I always look to the sandwiches, if they’ve got the basics right, it’s likely that good things are to follow. These sandwiches were perfect; classic flavours like Coronation chicken, smoked salmon and Cheddar and ham were kept up to date with flavoured bread, who knew that walnut bread could revolutionise a simple cheese and ham sandwich? In fact we liked them so much that we swiftly asked for another round.
Freshly baked scones were buttery, light and with a gentle crumble – suitable tools to be laden high with clotted cream and jam. They were worth the wait, we were two plates of sandwiches down so it was hardly as if we were hungry but still, a forty minute wait was perhaps pushing it.
The cakes, of which there were ten, were every bit as grand as the room itself. A banana cake was adorned with gold leaf, the nutty shell of a chocolate Ferrero Rocher-style cake gave way to smooth caramel, whilst a fragrant grapefruit cream cake contrasted with a bright yellow passionfruit creation, with just enough zing that it had a kick rather than a punch.
If you’re looking for ways to spend a cold March afternoon (especially if you still haven’t sorted out Mother’s Day) then you can’t go wrong with afternoon tea at The Lanesborough – it’s a classic, just like your mum.