Monday, 7 March 2016

The Afternoon Tea Club Reviews: Sketch London

A couple of weeks ago we paid a little visit to Sketch London to try out their afternoon tea. Here's what we thought of our experience!


Sketch has long been on our hit list of places to visit and on a recent trip to London, we were lucky enough to be able to try out their world famous afternoon tea. Unfortunately, we weren't able to get into the BEAUTIFUL pink gallery, but the kind folks at Sketch were able to fit us into their bar for  a quick tasting session.

Because of the nature of where we were seated, it's a little difficult to give a full experience overview. However, we can talk about the food and my god was it good.


The sandwiches at Sketch are the first in a line up of really special treats, coming in a selection of flavours including coronation chicken, smoked salmon, cucumber and a delicious hand wrapped toastie complete with bow. When it comes to savouries, what really sets Sketch apart is their attention to detail - as you can see from the pics the sandwiches are not only filled inside, but garnished on the outside and beautifully finished (scroll down a bit for the cucumber!)

Definitely one of the most creative presentations we've seen for a while and one to really write home about.


After the sandwiches came the scones. Now, this was the only slightly disappointing part of the experience as you are only given the option of a single plain or fruit variety. Perhaps we've been spoilt or maybe we just have eyes bigger than our bellies, but it would've been really nice to try out one of each. However, that said, the scones are definitely a good size so you don't feel like you're missing out too much by just having the one.

The final hoorah of the meal are the cakes and sweet treats. Now these take the form of a variety of sponges, tarts, mousses and meringues, offering a lightly balanced palate which is neither too stodgy or too sweet. I found it very easy to polish off, which goes to show how well constructed the menu is. Extra points for the marshmallows to finish - such a great addition!


Overall, we were very impressed with the food on offer at the Sketch London Afternoon Tea and whilst we didn't experience the full pink paradise, we most definitely got enough of a taster to make us determined to visit again soon.

Have you ever been for Afternoon Tea at Sketch? What was your favourite thing on the menu?

Whilst we were provided with a complementary afternoon tea for review, all thoughts and opinions are our own!

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Top Picks for Mother's Day Afternoon Tea

What better way to treat your mum this Mother's Day than with some quality time spent drinking tea (or champagne!) and eating lots of fabulous cake! Here's our pick of some of the best places to take your lovely mum this Mother's Day ...

Bettys, York


Bettys was the first tea room I ever visited as a child and has remained a firm favourite ever since. Boasting six locations across Yorkshire, their afternoon tea is a must for anyone travelling through the region, with York’s outlet offering both a casual dining option for passers by, or a reservation only experience upstairs in their Belmont room. Be sure to stop by their in house shop on the way out, to purchase a selection of Bettys signature breads, cakes and preserves - their Yorkshire tea loaf and fat rascal are an absolute must! - Caroline

Great John Street, Manchester

Everything about Great John Street’s afternoon tea is perfect. From its sumptuous library surroundings with sinkable sofas, to their beautiful Kumquat embellished serving plates, this boutique hotel has everything down to a tee (or tea!). Like many venues across the UK, Great John Street hotel offers both a ladies, gents and children's tea, making them the perfect choice for couples or family celebrations. Their new ‘High Breakfast’ makes tea an all day affair, offering a quirky take on the tradition, with Smoked Salmon Benedict, Mini French Toast and Strawberry Smoothies up for grabs. Definitely one to check out. 
Grand Pacific, Manchester

Our second Manchester recommendation is the ‘Asian High Tea’ at Grand Pacific in Spinningfields. Served in two waves (savoury stand first, followed by a sweet) this tea is a twist on the traditional British pastime, swapping out sandwiches for sushi, and scones for sweet spring rolls. With the bar being part of Manchester’s premier Australasia restaurant, it’s impossible to go too wrong. 
Crewe Hall, Crewe

Anywhere that’s good enough for the kings and queens of days gone by, is good enough for us. Served in the Sheridan Lounge fresh from the estate’s Victorian kitchen, the most striking part of this afternoon tea is its surroundings. With beautiful period features and high ceilings running throughout, it’s difficult not to get swept away in the venue’s history. Their champagne option is exactly how you’d imagine a quintessential afternoon tea to be, so if you’re looking for an elegant high tea in traditional surroundings, this is about as perfect as it gets!
Harvey Nichols, Nationwide

Harvey Nichols is a great option for afternoon tea on the go. Located at the heart of five of the UKs  major cities, the premium department store offers a luxury high tea experience at a very reasonable price. With seasonal menus that often include collaborations with prominent chefs, such as Paul A Young, this ever changingafternoon tea is a fantastic option for shoppers and ladies who lunch.

If vintage charm is more your style, Cuthberts’ Bakehouse in Liverpool offers a fun and affordable afternoon tea in a casual setting decorated in turquoise hues and fairy lights. Chosen from a selection of co-owner Matthew’s favourites, the menu varies from season to season but whatever the time of year, Cuthberts will spoil you with a quirky tea stand that’s packed with afternoon tea classics like Victoria sponge, huge macaroons and hearty sandwiches in an impressive selection of fillings and breads– you’ll wonder how you’ll ever finish it all.

Marco Pierre White’s New York, Italian restaurant offers a choice of two fabulous afternoon teas – traditional and Italian. Served on an up-cycled vintage style wine box, the Italian menu brings a fresh twist with a selection of savoury bites including pastrami on rye and bruschetta down to a sweet selection of cronuts, chocolate covered strawberries and polenta cake. Hardcore traditionalists might miss their usual scone fix but the surprise “wow” box that arrives as you finish, featuring mini biscuits and hot dipping chocolate, more than makes up for it. 
Are you treating your mum to Afternoon Tea this Mother's Day? Tweet your photos at @TeacupReview!

Monday, 22 February 2016

Afternoon Tea at the Grand Hotel & Spa, York

Last week I visited York to try out the Grand Hotel's Blend and Afternoon Tea package. As a self confessed Bettys lover, it took a lot for me to venture elsewhere, but I'm so glad I did!

Tea Stand

Betty's York was one of my first ever afternoon tea experiences and to this day remains my favourite place to visit in the city. Because of this, I tend to be a little cautious of trying new venues in York, for fear of missing out on my all time fave. However, when my friend Caroline invited me to join her on a spa and afternoon tea day at the Grand Hotel in York, I couldn't resist. 

Now Caroline is a regular guest at this hotel and visits pretty much every year with her boyfriend, and  has come back every time with nothing but praise, so when she invited me along, I knew I had to try it out for myself!


For around £39 each we took part in a spa product blending session, followed by afternoon tea in the hotel's restaurant. I won't focus too much on the spa part, because you're all here for the tea, but what I will say is that it's a really fun experience and great for groups. 

It only takes around 25 minutes, but works well as a little warm up for tea time and gives you something nice to take home after the cakes have been eaten. Incase you're wondering, the spa products you can choose to make are either a hand cream, body scrub or salt soak - I chose a lemongrass hand cream and have been using it none stop ever since. 


As you'd expect from a 5 star hotel, the full silver service is brought out in force at the Grand Hotel Afternoon Tea, with the prettiest tea pots and service I've ever seen. The tea itself comes as two separate pieces, with a plate of sandwiches first (incl. Smoked Salmon, Beef, Egg Mayo and cucumber) followed by a cake stand filled with warm scones and delicious sweet treats. This part  featured Walnut loaf, a sweet meringue cornet, ginger cupcake and a decadent chocolate tiffin-esque cake - Dreamy!

Overall I was very pleased with my afternoon tea experience at the Grand Hotel. My only piece of feedback would be that the overall appearance of the tea could've been improved by an injection of colour - maybe some pink macaroons or fruit topped pastries - to add another dimension to the look. As it stands the colour palette is a little beige and uninteresting to the eye - even if it is absolutely delicious. A bit of colour would take this tea up a level, and make it a real show stopper.

That said, everything we were presented with was a real treat and I'd be more than happy to recommend the Grand Hotel to friends in the future. They also do a great loyalty card scheme which offers diners every sixth tea free, which is an excellent perk and something which more venues should consider!

Check out the spa and afternoon tea packages available at the Grand Hotel York, here.

Caroline
x

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Afternoon Tea in the Sky

Most people start their January with a good detox, cutting back on the cake and getting rid of all ‘merry’ evidence of the Christmas and New Year festivities - or at least trying to.


However, I began my year on a work trip to Las Vegas, hardly the epicentre of detox juices and salads but rather the home of excess and extravagance or in my case, a big welcome dollop of cream and ten sugars, in my morning cup of coffee.

I had no idea where our first afternoon tea adventure was going to take place this year and I certainly didn’t expect it to happen at 30,000 ft. up in the clouds but that’s exactly what happened on a tired-eyed British Airways' flight from Heathrow to Las Vegas, painfully soon after NYE.

We’d heard of BA’s afternoon tea but still we weren’t too sure what to expect from what would be ATC's highest tea experience yet.

Tasty cakes.
Served in the Business Class cabin, this tea was a welcome change to the usual cheese and crackers pack we’re used to snacking on mid-flight.

Layered tea stands don’t exactly make for the most practical form of food presentation in the air, so the tea arrived on three separate dishes, with scones served from a basket, allowing you to choose which ones you wanted.

Birds eye view from the sky.
Starting with a good, fresh selection of sandwiches including egg mayonnaise, prawn and beef and a choice of tea of coffee, there was a good mix of flavours on the menu. Followed by scones (and by the looks of it, as many as you would have liked!) accompanied by a pot of jam and clotted cream and finally a selection of cakes to finish (French fancie, tiffin slice and brandy cake), this was a dainty but delicious afternoon treat.

On the ground, this tea is probably best compared to some of the more simple afternoon tea menus we have sampled such as that at the Radisson Blu – basic but ticks most boxes of a good afternoon tea. For the added novelty of taking tea in the sky, it’s definitely up there with others around the £15/20 price point.

If you find yourself jetting off to somewhere special soon and fancy a bit of luxury, I would high-ly recommend this - Laura


Afternoon Tea is available on selected long-haul British Airways flights in Business and First Class. For more information go to: www.britishairways.com

Monday, 21 December 2015

Christmas Unwrapped at InterContinental London Park Lane

If there are two things that make us feel magical in this world, it’s afternoon tea and ‘The most wonderful time of the year’ … Christmas! Put them both together and you’ve got us set up for a pretty perfect December afternoon. We headed to London as an early festive gift (to us, love us) for the InterContinental London Park Lane’s Christmas Unwrapped afternoon tea. Here's what we thought ...

Seasonal fizz.
Taking place in the Wellington Lounge, the setting is both luxurious but relaxed enough to make you feel at home. To get us a feeling merry we began with a seasonal cocktail before proceeding to inhale around 10 cups of accompanying teas – more of that later.

Christmas Unwrapped menu.
Delicately modelled on the traditional Christmas fayre, the savoury tier has got all of your festive favourites lined up in miniature form. Starting with a stilton, chestnut and walnut vol-au-vent and honey roasted root vegetable, complete with gravy, this already felt like the real thing. Followed by a selection of open style sandwiches including turkey, sage and onion stuffing and smoked salmon, crayfish and prawns in Marie Rose sauce accompanied by everyone’s favourite Christmas trimming  - pigs in blankets. Each one was thoughtful and beautifully presented. We couldn’t help but ask for seconds!

A Christmas twist.
Each tier came out separately to keep everything nice and fresh which was particularly good news for the seasonal-scones, which arrived next. The warm Christmas spice and orange peel scones were festive but subtle and went well with the Devonshire Clotted Cream and orange-liquor curd.

Festive favourites.
Mini roasted root vegetable pie.
Of course we would be lying if we said the real selling point of this tea wasn’t the beautiful Christmas gift presentation of desserts that had our appetite’s whet from the first time we laid eyes on it back in October. The InterContinental Hotels are always at the top of their game for presentation – check out this Chelsea Flower Show themed tea we tried at the Intercontinental Westminster hotel – so we were pretty excited by this one. Arriving in a clear presentation box complete with red bow detail we each eagerly pulled at the ribbon to unwrap an enviable selection of themed desserts. Starting with a classic chocolate Yule log sprinkled with glitter we indulged in spiced apple pie (just delicious, by the way), miniature Christmas tree mousse with just adorable attention to detail and of course finally, no Christmas experience would be complete without it – mini Christmas cake.

Seasonal scones.
Now we’ve often pointed out in our various tea outings that despite it being in the name, the actual ‘tea’ is sometimes overlooked. However for this special menu, tea was truly at the heart with a carefully thought out selection of tea flavours that complimented each layer – special thank you to Luigi Vergura for his tea blending expertise!

Tea with thought.
To start we has the Smoky Ceylon made with Ceylon, Lapsang Souchong and Juniper berries which just had the most amazing cosy fireplace feel to it. Shortly followed by the signature Spicy No. 1 Park Lane fused with warming liquorice and cinnamon notes. A more subtle Ayurvedic Harmony blend with rose petal, fennel seeds, cinnamon and ginger, offered a more relaxing feel, perfect for winding down with dessert and then finally Xmas Red Berries with a twist of fresh orange peel. These teas flowed perfectly throughout the meal and made for a delectable experience that really brought all the senses to life and played with Christmas nostalgia.

Underneath the Christmas tree.
The perfect Christmas Gift? Yep.
Overall this was wonderful experience filled with great food, tea and atmosphere. The service at this hotel is fantastic and we were made to feel right at home with teacups topped up and offerings of seconds. If you’re looking to treat someone special this Christmas or New Year – even just yourself – this should be at the top of your Christmas list.

Where to start?

Christmas Unwrapped at InterContinental London Park Lane is available until 3rd January 2016 and priced at £42pp. For more information and to book visit: www.wellington-lounge.co.uk

Afternoon tea was provided to us for review purposes, but as usual, all thoughts and opinions are our own. Prices correct as of December 2015.