I’ve always been a fan of gherkins – I’ll eat them out of the jar if I’m given a fork. I understand though that gherkins belong to the same family as sprouts, Marmite and the Kardashians, they’re divisive. What about a chocolate gherkin though? More specifically The Gherkin (30 St Mary Axe, if we’re being pedantic) made from white chocolate filled with a dark chocolate ganache. I think that would be a yes from everyone.
Why all the gherkin chat though? Well, following on from the success of their Tale As Old As Time afternoon tea, Town House at The Kensington has launched a new tea and it is a celebration of London’s most recognisable and historic landmarks, and yes it includes a The Gherkin. And of course, being a self-titled afternoon tea connoisseur, I made my way over to Queen’s Gate to check it out.
The restaurant marries together townhouse elegance with English eccentricity and contemporary décor. Think wooden flooring and high ceilings, teal, navy and mustard furnishings with bold printed cushions and bookshelves lining the soft grey walls. Fire places keep it cosy, but big bay windows stop it from being stifling. Oh, and keep an eye out for the mounted rabbit and mallard heads guarding the door.
Served on a London Eye-inspired cake stand and blue candy-striped china, the tea starts with classic English savouries: crab cakes, a Colston Bassett Stilton and broccoli quiche and a mini pie made with London ale and steak so tender it practically melts. Sandwiches were off to a good start by not suffering from stale bread – I know I bang on about it, but it really makes the all the difference. The Campbells & Company smoked salmon with lovage pesto and cream cheese was particularly good as was the Coronation chicken, but it was actually the humble cucumber and crème fraiche sandwich that won best in show.
After scones with plenty of clotted cream and Heather Hills strawberry jam, it was onto the edible landmarks – illustrated on a beautiful map of London, the tea will take you on an edible tour of the capital. Alongside the chocolate Gherkin there was the Big Ben lemon curd tart complete with edible paper clock face, an iconic red telephone box made from rhubarb mousse and The Shard made from milk chocolate hiding a carrot cake centre. To accompany we swigged a Kensington Champagne cocktail and a couple of pots of Single Estate English Breakfast tea from the oldest tea estate in Malawi. The Rare Tea Company sources the tea, so you know that the most essential part of the afternoon is in good hands.
The London Landmark Tea perfectly executes its theme, it looks brilliant (the waiters will offer to take your photo at the table, they know it’ll be popping up on Instagram later) and more importantly they kept cakes simple but delicious, they haven’t favoured looks over substance. Now, pass me a jar of chocolate gherkins and a fork…please.