Monday, 6 May 2013

The Afternoon Tea Club Reviews: Fortnum and Mason, Diamond Jubilee TeaSalon, London

Last week The Afternoon Tea Club was invited to spend the day at Fortnum and Mason's Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon. With Royal links and a menu to sing about, this was certainly an experience to remember.

Time for Tea

Environment

Caroline:
As a self-confessed Royal enthusiast, you can imagine my delight at being invited to spend the day tracing HRH’s footsteps, at the prestigious Fortnum and Mason Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon. Located on the store’s fourth floor and decorated throughout in calming pastel hues, this pretty tea room is the image of refinement, with clean white tablecloths and comfortable leather armchairs completing the look, whilst also adding a touch of luxury for good measure.

The Salon

The wonderful pianist who accompanied our tea was a particular highlight, playing a selection of movie classics from bygone days - as well as a touch of Andrew Lloyd Webber for variety. I found this aspect to be quite enchanting and thoroughly enjoyed humming along to the Phantom's ‘Think of Me’ whilst eating my scones - All they need to do now is getJohn Owen Jones on vocals and they’ve got the perfect entertainment package!

Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon

Laura:
Just a ten minute stroll from Her Majesty’s humble abode, The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon serves to create an atmosphere of high class elegance and luxury dining. Put on your best tea dress and pearls (or trousers for you gentleman tea lovers out there!) and get ready to experience how London does Afternoon Tea.

With ocean hues cascading through the lounge and minimilistic white and cream to set the scene, there’s something quite understated about this grand Tea Salon which makes it all the more admirable.
Everything from the chairs to the china to the coffee cakeis woven together under a pastel colour palette and done in such a way that it seems effortless. There’s even a live pianist to entertain guests whilst dining which definitely added to the stylish tone.

I loved the paneling on the walls and the ceiling beams by the large window bays which let in the perfect amount of natural lighting onthis particularly sunny afternoon.
This tea room is the absolute picture of British AfternoonTea.

Tea for Two

Food

Caroline:
Presented in a minimalist fashion (but with unlimited refills and replenishments) the Fortnum and Mason Afternoon Tea presents simplistic elegance at its best. Displayed on two Tiffany-blue cake stands (one for food and the other exclusively for jams and conserves) The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon provides one of the most gentile experiences that we have encountered to date. The menu itself is very traditional, with a selection of mixed finger sandwiches to start, followed by scones (plain and fruit), before the final patisserie piece de la resistance

Top Tier

As you might expect, the sandwiches were lovely and fresh, being served on a variety of white, brown and seeded breads, in a selection of flavours (Ploughman‘s: Ham, Cheese and Pickle; Salmon and Cream Cheese; Cucumber and Mint; Egg and Mustard Cress; and Coronation Chicken) Out of this choice, my favourite had to be the hearty Ploughman’s, which was filled with lovely carved ham, good quality cheese and pickle, making for a very substantial finger sandwich. In at second was the Cucumber & Mint, which was incredibly refreshing and the perfect palate cleanser between tiers - definitely one to try again at home!

The scones on the second tier were the closest to perfection that we’ve had so far, with a great rise and lovely sugary after-taste which is perfect for those with a sweet tooth (like myself). I also particularly appreciated the inclusion of Lemon Curd in the preserve selection, which although unexpected, turned out to be a taste revelation and something which I definitely want to try again soon. 

Scones

Visually well balanced and perfectly formed, the top tier of  Fortnum and Mason’s afternoon tea was a treat to behold, with selections that included: a Raspberry and Violet éclair (with floral decoration); Pistachio and White Chocolate Moose Cake; Coffee and Chocolate Cake; and Apricot Mousse. The winner by far, on this occasion, was the Coffee Cake, which had a brilliant consistency being wonderfully creamy and crunchy all at once - yum!

In addition to the food that we sampled, Fortnum and Mason also offer a very good selection of alternative Afternoon Teas which include a children's option (boys and girls), as well as Savoury and High teas for those looking for something a little more substantial.

Sandwich Selection

Laura:
This afternoon tea was probably the most quintessentially British tea we have experienced. By concentrating on quality and keeping thespirit of traditional Afternoon Tea alive, we indulged in a selection of afternoon favourites that were the epitome of class and sophistication.

Presented on Tiffany blue china with a worn effect that gave it a sense of history, I absolutely fell in love with the arrangement – what a sight to behold!

To start we had a selection of fine finger sandwiches. What I really appreciated about these were the different breads each flavour was presented with. The different textures of poppy seed and wholegrain loaves really made the difference and were just one great example of the added details here at Fortnum and Mason. Like Caroline said, there were 5 varieties of sandwich on offer, all of excellent quality. My favourite was the Coronation Chicken, bursting with flavour and a good amount of filling. Of course I wasalso a fan of the salmon which was wonderfully tender and served on perfectly fresh bread.

Tea Cup and Saucer

Next up and with the award for ‘Best So Far’ were, drumrollplease … the scones! With a choice of both fruity and plain I almost rushed past the sandwiches to get to them. Just the right size and lightly dusted with sugar, they were my idea of perfect. We even had a choice of preserves too which was a nice surprise. Classic raspberry jam and also Lemon Curd, particularly great with the plain scones and a nice contrast to have such a zesty flavour in between courses.

For the finale we had some of the most beautiful desserts I have ever seen. Each as special as the last, we had a choice of four including Raspberry Éclair, Coffee and Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Mousse Cake and Apricot Mousse. The coffee cake was amazing, it had so many different textures with a creamy centre and biscuit base but my favourite was the Apricot Mousse. My only suggestion would be that maybe there could have been a slightly more cakey option or possibly a tart as all of the desserts were primarily cream based and this was quite filling after our unlimited sandwiches!

However, Fortnum and Mason’s signature cake stand certainly made up for this as we were given the choice of special bakes including Battenberg and Chocolate cake. Obviously we chose the chocolate and oh my did we make the right choice – a generous size too!

Chocolate Cake

Service

Caroline:
From the lovely lady on reception, to the charming waiter and assistant manager who chatted to us after our tea, everyone at Fortnum and Mason was incredibly welcoming. Their service style was attentive, without being at all imposing and we were made to feel very much at home throughout - a real treat!

Laura:
The service at Fortnum and Mason was immaculate. From being greeted at the desk right up to collecting our coats, we were attended with the upmost care. Particular mention must go to our server David who was really friendly and professional and also assistant manager Christopher who was extremely personable and kept this very busy tea room running smoothly.

Tiffany-Blue Stand

Overall Thoughts

Caroline:
The great thing about Fortnum and Mason, is the flawless approach to hospitality which is presented in every aspect of their Afternoon Tea. I very much enjoyed the afternoon tea experience and would recommend it to anyone looking to celebrate a special occasion in style. (Also try their Queen Anne Blend Tea - it's lovely!)

Laura:
If you’re looking for somewhere to really treat yourself and experience Afternoon Tea at its very best then Fortnum and Mason is your go to place. Everything is done to the highest of standard and really takes you to a completely different world of relaxation and class. I would return even just for the scones. This is exactly how Afternoon Tea should be.  


Afternoon Tea is served daily from 12pm in The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon, Fortnum and Mason, 181 Piccadilly, London. Prices start from £40.00 pp. For more information, menus and how to book a table please visit their website HERE

DISCLAIMER: As is common in the catering and leisure industry, we were provided with complimentary services for review purposes. Whilst this has not influenced our review, we believe in the full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. 
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