The Resident sends Josh Eastern – who hails from Seattle, the land of coffee – to experience afternoon tea in one of the capital’s most famous hotels, The Langham…
As an American, I was intrigued by the chance to try the afternoon tea at The Langham’s impressive Palm Court.
I had to do my research beforehand. I knew the basics of afternoon tea – scones, jam tea, cake – but it’s hard to find a stateside equivalent. Coffee and doughnuts certainly doesn’t cut it.
But this was new, exciting and quintessentially British. After all, Palm Court at The Langham is famed as the birthplace of afternoon tea. Not that they ride on the coattails of history – there’s plenty of innovation to keep them top of the game. Take, for example, the new, and charmingly named, SeasonaliTea, featuring items sourced locally and in season.
Even the selection of teas offered changes with the seasons, to complement the menu (I can highly recommend the strawberry and kiwi, they certainly don’t serve that at Starbucks), and Palm Court itself will be covered with seasonally-changing floral displays.
From the moment I walked in the front doors of the lobby, the experience lived up to its billing. Once you’re seated in the decadent space of tall ceilings, chandeliers and mirrored walls, it’s tea time. Sit back, relax and let the courteous staff lead you through your tea, sandwiches and cakes, starting with the customary glass of champagne.
Choose between the Afternoon Tea menu (£55) or the High Tea menu (£62), both with a choice of champagnes (additional cost) and served on Wedgewood crockery, which I hear you Brits are fond of.
The sandwiches include a classic English cucumber with cream cheese and chives, Cackleberry farm egg with artichoke and summer truffle, crab salad with avocado served in a brioche bun, fresh mozzarella with tomato chutney and basil bread, as well as the queen’s own favourite, Coronation chicken.
Fortunately, the patisserie created by Executive Pastry Chef Andrew Gravett is lighter than the average afternoon tea
Then come the pastries and cakes, an elegant collection of seasonal flavours. Fortunately, the patisserie created by Executive Pastry Chef Andrew Gravett is lighter than the average afternoon tea, I’m told, with a reduction in the use of refined sugars and fat.
But it’s all still plenty indulgent, from the scones, served with strawberry preserve and Cornish clotted cream, to a light Japanese sponge with Oakchurch Farm strawberries and Madagascan vanilla, the Chouxtime, created using the La Burlat variety of cherries, and fresh peach and verbena meringue. The Bermondsey honey cake is the perfect way to finish the afternoon.
If you’re able to eat everything put in front of you, props to you. If I were physically capable of having seconds of anything, it would have to be the crab salad and the Japanese sponge cake.
For a first time afternoon tea-goer like myself, there were nothing but positives to take away from the experience. The whole experience screamed tradition, and I can see why this British pastime has remained a favourite for some 150 years.
1c Portland Place, Regent Street W1B 1JA; palm-court.co.uk