Last month our lovely lady in London, Charlotte Vowden, headed off to Cannizaro House for a very special festive afternoon tea. Here's how she got on.
There’s something quite comforting about pouring a hot brew from the pot and digging your knife into a buttery scone on a cold winter’s day, especially if you’re sitting next to a gently crackling open fire. This weekend I was lucky enough to discover a bolt hole in Wimbledon perfectly suited to play out such a scenario, and I think you should pay a visit too.
Built in the 18th century Cannizaro House has hosted countless characters throughout its history, including Oscar Wilde, and as soon as you step across the threshold its cosy decor and relaxed atmosphere make you feel right at home.
After shedding several layers of clothing, plus bobble hat, I was seated in the lounge bar, a room with a log fire, grand piano and ornate pillars - far more impressive than its name implies.
After inspecting the menu I chose to have the Festive Tea, tis the season after all, with a glass of champagne and the Lovers’ Leap loose leaf tea. A light accompaniment. My mum, my regular afternoon tea companion, had the Planters Afternoon blend which was creamy and complimentary to the menu.
Remaining untouched for the Christmas season the classic selection of finger sandwiches included tomato and ham, salmon, cucumber and egg mayonnaise. All very traditional, but I admit I may have left one or two in my haste to try the buttermilk scones.
Spiced up with orange, cinnamon and angelica then dusted with icing sugar, they looked smelt and tasted amazing, while the homemade rhubarb, orange, vanilla, lemon and lime jam (a combination which could have been too overpowering) gave them a zesty kick to combat the sweetness. With cornish clotted cream plonked on the top they were by far the most inventive and well-baked scones I’ve had in a considerably long time. It’s no surprise the scones are so good though as the chef is from the West Country. He knows exactly what he’s doing.
Pudding, the Pièce de résistance, was packed with Christmasy flavours. A cinnamon and ginger shortbread disc melted in the mouth but was slightly let down by the sugar paper topper that featured a snowman and the Cannizaro House name. It looked great but I had to eat the two components - biscuit and decoration - separately as the sugar paper was tough to bite through.
A chocolate mousse dome with orange jelly at its centre was exceptional, as was the panna cotta shot spiced with mulled wine for the festive period. I enjoyed the single white chocolate and orange eclair but given have the chance I would have devoured several more.
It wouldn’t have been festive tea without a mince pie or two, and no bigger than a 50p piece the delicate little ones scattered among the larger sweets were 5 star. With a warm middle and crispy sugared top they were just right.
When I arrived at Cannizaro House I was chilly and in need of an afternoon tea of a particularly special nature to make the long tube journey from east London worthwhile. Atmosphere, friendly staff and a very high standard of edibles bring me to the conclusion that it's a journey I will make again.
The Cannizaro HousevAfternoon Tea menu is priced at £25. Add a glass of Alain Thienot champagne and strawberries - £41.00
Charlotte Vowden is a travel & lifestyle journalist who is as happy in the mountains as she is sipping champagne and eating cake. Writing for The Sunday Times keeps her busy but she’s always looking for her next adventure or afternoon tea destination.
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.