Monday, 29 July 2013

The Afternoon Tea Club Reviews: The Milestone Hotel, Kensington, London

Last weekend the Afternoon Tea Club headed into the City for a very special afternoon at one of London's top destinations, The Milestone Hotel. Here's how we got on:

Tea Stand
Environment

Caroline:
Located just off London's Kensington Park, the Milestone Hotel offers luxury at its very best. Decorated throughout in a rich colour scheme of red, green and gold, the library in which tea is served, is an intimate yet ambient environment,  offering something for everyone. A selection of lounge chairs and comfy antique sofas provide informality for the casual guest, whilst traditional dining chairs and tables are also available for those seeking convention.

Looking around the room, it's clear that the Milestone doesn't have a certain 'type' of guest, with patrons ranging from ladies who lunch to a group of young children having a birthday party - proving that afternoon tea is very much for everyone!

The Library

Personal design highlights included their lovely tennis painting which offered a fantastic focal point to the room - particularly after the recent Wimbledon excitement - whilst their magnificent chandelier in reception (you know how I love a good chandelier!) provided an extra touch of class.

A pianist in the room adjacent was another nice surprise, playing a selection of quirky lounge music (including my all-time favourite 'I dreamed a dream' from Les Miserables) further adding  to the relaxed environment.

Milestone Hotel
Laura:
To quote my good friend Caroline as we entered The Milestone's lounge, 'Okay, now THIS is afternoon tea' - pretty much took the words right out of my mouth. 

Located in the heart of Kensington, this fabulous hotel is one of the most beautiful Afternoon Tea locations we have had the pleasure of visiting. 


Styled to perfection with authentic artwork and a rich tapestry of regal colours and furnishings, this takes traditional afternoon tea to the max. 

There's a good range of seating from antique sofas with incredibly intricate cushions to individual lounge chairs that are both ornate and pretty and a vintage queen's dream. 

Afternoon tea is about relaxation and The Milestone offers just that with elegant surroundings and even a live pianist to entertain guests throughout. I loved sipping my tea along to 'Here Comes The Sun'! 

This hotel showcases good old timeless England and I think visitors will love delving into this world of old books, rich art and traditional pastimes. 

Food

Caroline:
The variety of food provided on the Milestone's traditional champagne afternoon tea menu was staggering, with not one, but two tiers of cakes for the picking, alongside a sizable selection of sandwiches (Cheese & Tomato, Egg, Honey Roast Ham, Coronation Chicken, Cucumber and Salmon) and lovely warm scones (fruit and plain)

Sandwiches

Out of the sandwiches, my favourite had to be the salmon, which was fresh and light, balancing the smoky fish well with rich cream cheese. I always say that if the bread's fresh then you're on to a winner and the Milestone did not disappoint.

The scones were a similar success, served separately on a side plate with Blackcurrant jam and clotted cream, freeing up space for the all important cake stand...

Scones

Cake was very much the dish of the day at the Milestone, offering at least ten different options which included: a red velvet cupcake, American cheesecake with pistachio, chocolate eclair, carrot cake, fruit tart, coconut meringue and cream, raspberry cake, chocolate and hazelnut financier, and Lavender Shortcake. All cakes on offer were delicious - especially the carrot cake which was scrummy with a lovely creamy top - and truly catered to every taste. Unfortunately, there were just too many to get through during our sitting, but the lovely hotel staff boxed the left overs up for us to enjoy on the train ride home!

Cake


Laura:
Decadence. Complete and utter, wonderful decadence is how I would describe this Champagne Afternoon Tea. Arriving on a fabulous three tier, silver tea stand, accompanied by a glass of champagne, the food selection was truly mouthwatering. 
As with all good afternoon teas our menu was explained to us on arrival and there really was so much to take in. 
To begin with we had a plate of perfectly fresh sandwiches including; honey mustard ham, melt in your mouth salmon, cheese and tomato, cucumber and my favourite, circle cut Coronation Chicken. There was a really good mix of textures and breads and it was quite clear from the start that this wasn't any regular afternoon tea. 

Served hot from the oven our scones arrived separately with a choice of either plain or fruit and big dollops of both homemade jam and cream. The scones were just delightful, lightly glazed and a perfect golden brown. 

Cake Part 2
The desserts were also on a completely different level and offered a fantastic array of flavours and consistencies. The colour palette was just stunning with vibrant fruit tarts, raspberry sponge, subtle lavender shortcake, red velvet cupcake, lime and strawberry cheesecake and lemon meringue. However, the one that stuck out for me was the hotel's signature brandy chocolate cake - rich in flavour yet with a real smooth liquor kick. I really appreciated that the hotel managed to tick the traditional boxes but also experimented with interesting flavours to add a splash of personality to their menu. 

There are plenty of hot teas on offer too so to narrow our choices down we decided to go for the hotel's recommendations. I tried their signature earl grey, a real treat for a relaxing afternoon and the perfect complement to such an eclectic food selection. 

Service

Caroline:
As you'd expect, service at the Milestone was top notch, with every interaction being of the highest possible standard. All staff members were friendly and polite, doing everything possible to make us feel home - a big thank you to them for their efforts!


Laura:
Genuinely some of the best service we have experienced. For somewhere so formal and traditional,  the staff were not afraid to lighten the mood by joking with us (particularly about us wanting to take cakes for the journey home!) 
They were really helpful too and even invited a small party of mini guests to go help decorate cupcakes - absolutely adorable. 


Overall Thoughts

Caroline:
There isn't a single thing that I would change about the Milestone Afternoon Tea experience. From the moment we arrived until the moment we left everything was how a traditional tea ought to be - this is without a doubt the most immaculate afternoon tea that I have experienced to date (a big statement, I know) and I wouldn't hesitate to go back again!

Laura:
I often worry when we visit high end tea venues as grandeur can sometimes translate to quite a stiff environment where I'm afraid to raise a pinky finger incorrectly! However, The Milestone somehow manages to provide complete extravagance and still deliver an atmosphere that many of its peers struggle to conjure. 

There was a great mix of people enjoying Afternoon Tea during our visit and I think that speaks volumes about just how charming The Milestone is. If you're looking for something to really treat the family with this summer, I would look no further. 

Cupcake Rating: 
Plus - The Golden Cupcake! 


The Milestone Hotel is an award winning London hotel situated in the heart of Kensington. Afternoon Tea is taken in The Park Lounge with prices starting at £36.50 pp. For more information and to book, 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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Sunday, 14 July 2013

Afternoon Tea News: Eric Lanlard Afternoon Tea on P&O Cruises

It's no secret that we love Eric Lanlard, so when we heard about his brand new afternoon tea partnership with P&O Cruises, our hearts skipped a tiny beat. After all, what could be better than a world-class tea aboard a luxury cruise liner? Nothing we tell you - read on to find out more and watch the video below:

Eric Lanlard Aboard P&O Cruises

‘Cake Boy’ celebrity chef Eric Lanlard creates new signature afternoon tea

A short video presented by celebrity chef and Master Pâtissier, Eric Lanlard, has been produced highlighting his unique signature afternoon tea with brand new sweet and savoury creations, which he designed for a dedicated food & wine themed cruise.

Lanlard, star of Channel 4’s Baking Mad and Glamour Puds series, has previously made cakes for Her Majesty The Queen Mother, David Beckham and Claudia Schiffer, amongst others. Normally associated with his luxury afternoon tea in his Cake Boy London cafe and five star hotels, this is the first time Lanlard has created an afternoon tea for a cruise ship.


The video begins with Lanlard talking through his bespoke afternoon tea, which brings a contemporary and interactive twist to the traditional British institution. Highlights include:

- edible perfume
- savoury lemon and cracked black pepper macaroons filled with Scottish smoked salmon and cream cheese
- savoury gruyère cheese éclairs with brie, rocket and red onion marmalade
- exotic pop cones topped with orange blossom Persian candy floss
- a modern take on the classic Eton mess with injection pipettes filled with a raspberry coulis and meringue topped with Malaysian tapioca pearls filled with lychee juice


During the video, Lanlard also talks about sharing his tips, designs and techniques during his cookery demonstration and the Q&A session he held whilst on board Azura, sharing a few celebrity secrets.

Lanlard said: “When I was invited to create a signature afternoon tea for P&O Cruises, I jumped at the chance! I wanted to design something which had a modern twist and would be more interactive so people could really get involved and enjoy a whole new experience. And I wanted to use ingredients from around the world which people may not have ever seen or tasted before, whether it be Persian candy floss or Malaysian tapioca pearls, it’s important to create something new and fresh.”


Lanlard will be appearing as a special guest on the next food & wine themed cruise later this year with Marco Pierre White; a 28-night Caribbean no-fly cruise on Adonia (D318), departing November 22, 2013. Vantage Fares from £2,399pp. To book, visit www.pocruises.com or call 0843 373 0111.

The video is hosted on the P&O Cruises YouTube channel and Facebook page and can be downloaded for hosting on independent sites:
www.youtube.com/pandocruises
www.facebook.com/pandocruises

Direct link to the vodcast:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_yZ8UX6EGE

*Post brought to you in association with P&O Cruises
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Saturday, 13 July 2013

Product Review: Lov Organic Tea

A couple of months ago the lovely folk at LOV Organic sent us a goodie bag of fruit teas to sample and oh how we LOV'ed them... here's how we got on:

LOV-ely packaging!

Caroline - Citrus Fruit Tea:
A wonderful deep amber colour makes this tea visually very appealing, whilst its well balanced and refreshing palate is perfect for enjoying hot or cold.

I particularly enjoyed the Citrus Fruit Tea warm, as it offered a rich fruitiness which really zinged the taste buds, bringing out a full and intense mandarin flavour. 

Unlike many other fruit teas I have tried, Lov Organic Citrus Fruit Tea did not disappoint.

What's in the tin?

Laura - Exotic Fruit Tea:
As soon as I popped open the tin, the potent smell of Lov's Exotic Fruit Tea made me think of summer. Whilst being incredibly fruity, it also has quite a spicey quality to it which creates a wonderful warming flavour. 

I decided to first try the tea hot. You can really taste the apple and mango chunks fused together and the hints of pineapple and hisbiscus really set it off. Still, these flavours are not too overpowering and it's still at heart a very soothing tea. 

I think that even those who aren't big into fruity teas might find their taste buds tickled by Lov's Exotic Tea, particularly when drank cold. I would definitely recommend putting it over ice - a great little refresher for our surprisingly summery summer! 


Lov Organic Teas can be purchased both online and from a variety of high street retailers.
Visit their website to find out more!

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Charlotte in the City: Brocket Hall Heritage Afternoon Tea Review

Last week our London girl, Charlotte Vowden, ventured out of the City for an afternoon of sheer indulgence at one of the country's prettiest afternoon tea destinations. Here's how she got on...


Brocket Hall

For my latest afternoon tea outing I ventured to Brocket Hall in Hertfordshire. The 18th century country retreat has just opened the doors of its grand ballroom for Heritage Afternoon Tea and I couldn’t resist a trip out of the city now the good weather has arrived.
 
Less than an hour from central London by car, Brocket Hall feels like a lifetime away. The ballroom has been so immaculately preserved and restored it feels as though you’ve travelled back in time. There were moments when I thought I might see a man in period costume gallop by on a horse rather than a man in a golf buggy on the course below.

Scones, anyone?

A warm welcome is guaranteed as a butler service begins as soon as you enter the Hall.  Friendly without being over-familiar the smartly attired butlers keenly share their knowledge - I learnt that the ballroom’s decorative ceiling dates back to 1760 and depicts the signs of the zodiac. It’s stunning, and I found it impossible to not gaze at it during tea to find all twelve signs.


The sandwiches, scones and sweets are presented on silver platters as and when you are ready so I took my time to appreciate both the food and ambience. A pianist played throughout my visit and the repertoire included both classic and contemporary numbers. The butler even checked I was comfortable with the volume. 
 
Following the deeply-filled finger sandwiches, which included salmon and dill crème fraîche, the scones were served warm, just how I like them. With a choice of butter, clotted cream, jam and lemon curd there was plenty to dollop on them. 
  
Cakes

It was on the sweet platter that I found my only criticism of the tea as the lemon drizzle cake and battenberg slice were dry. I rectified the problem with some of the cream leftover from the scones so they were still very much enjoyed. 

Each of the seven teas on the menu were accompanied by information on either their origin, their composition or their flavours. I had chamomile tea in a two cup teapot with a little honey which was supplied in a tiny jar on a plate with a doily. It was on recommendation from the butler as I had told him I had a particularly sweet tooth and I found it to be utterly delicious. 

Time for tea!

As a former home to two British Prime Ministers and a favourite destination for members of the Royal Family, Brocket Hall has been a honeypot for prestigious gatherings for hundreds of years and The Heritage Afternoon Tea marks a new chapter in the ballroom’s rich history of entertaining. 

If there was ever an afternoon tea that warranted a pretty frock for the ladies and a smart shirt for a men then this is it. It’s a place where happy memories are made beneath a twinkling chandelier over tea and cake.

A Room with a View

Tea is served every Sunday and is priced at £29.50 per person, or £42.00 with a glass of champagne. To make a reservation visit www.brocket-hall.co.uk or call 01707 368 700

Charlotte Vowden is a travel & lifestyle journalist who is as happy in the mountains as she is sipping champagne and indulging on cake. Writing for The Sunday Times and other national publications keeps her busy but she’s always looking for her next adventure or afternoon tea destination.
Twitter: @charlottevowden

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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Tuesday, 9 July 2013

The Afternoon Tea Club Reviews: Hard Days Night Hotel, Liverpool

Whereas someone once said, you Can't Buy Me Love, you can in fact buy Afternoon Tea and in all honesty that's a kind of love I'm happy to settle for!
 
 
Step inside the Hard Days Night Hotel, Liverpool's very own Beatles themed abode set in the heart of the city that rocked the world. 
Tea is taken in the hotel lounge, where you'll find black and white photos of the Fab Four lining the walls and even framed lyrics in Lennon's famous handwriting. It's themed yet maintains an air of sophistication with its modern leather furnishings and dark wood accents. It would be very easy to go a bit Beatles mad in such a venue yet this place banishes the tacky in favour of subtle decoration.
 
 
 
This summer there are a few Afternoon Tea options on offer with the introduction of the restaurant's Summer Cooler's menu. However, I stuck with old faithful and went for a traditional tea.

The arrangement was really impressive. I absolutely loved the frosted glass tea stand - almost as much as I loved the pretty array of cakes!



The start I had a selection of sandwiches including cheese, ham, egg and salmon on a good range of breads and just the right size. No prizes for guessing my favourite - salmon!

Next up, it was the scones turn to shine. Beautiful warm fruit scones with jam and cream presented in a nice big dollop on the side - delicious . I really liked that there were two jams to choose from - strawberry and blackcurrant - and have now discovered how well blackcurrant jam goes with cream.



Finally, my favourite part, the dessert selection. Hard Days Night offers a really varied selection of cakes, not too heavy and not too repetitious either. This included battenberg, super fluffy Victoria sponge, lime and blackcurrant macaroons and a chocolate cake complete wth Hard Days Night print on top. The macaroons were particularly tasty, especially in such juicy flavours. The one minor let down here was the fact that the desserts were not home made. I think that if the hotel were to add a few signature cakes to its Afternoon Tea, then it could become a real hotspot for seasoned tea lovers. It's also worth noting that we were simply given the option of tea or coffee, which for me will do just the trick, however I can imagine some tea connoisseurs might expect a little more in the exotic tea department. 


 
Moving back to the positives, I must say the service at the hotel was really great and the staff were very attentive, making sure my teacup was constantly topped up - overall a really pleasant experience. If you're in the city for a shopping trip with friends and looking for somewhere to relax, I would definitely recommend booking yourself in.
 
- Laura
 
Hard Days Night is located on North John Street, Liverpool. Afternoon Tea is served daily in The Lounge with prices starting at £17.95 pp. for a standard Afternoon Tea. For more information and to book please visit their website here.
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Vote for us in the Cosmopolitan Blog Awards 2013


We are absolutely delighted to announce that we've been shortlisted as 'Best Food Blog' in the Cosmopolitan Blogger Awards 2013

If you'd like to vote for us (and we really hope you do) simply follow the link below and select 'The Afternoon Tea Club' when you get get to Part 7 - Best Food Blog. Thank you for your support so far, we really appreciate the love. 


We'll let you know how we get on!

Love,

Laura and Caroline
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Saturday, 6 July 2013

Afternoon Tea News: Rolling Scones Afternoon Tea at Hilton Park Lane

Feeling the post Glastonbury blues? Head over to the Hilton Park Lane for a rock n' rolling time!


Here's what's on offer:

Paying homage to the rock legends, the Rolling Scones afternoon tea is inspired by bestselling albums, songs and other iconic symbols associated with the band, such as the worldfamous tongue and lips design logo. As well as being regular guests at London Hilton on Park Lane, Keith Richards, founding member of The Rolling Stones, is also reported to have written the famous riff from Satisfaction at the hotel.

To satisfy diners' taste buds, music-themed treats come served on an edible chocolate plate and include cherry flavoured biscuit lips; a 1978-inspired rainbow lolly; chocolate button cake; cheesecake with a tattoo twist; and tumbling dice based on the band's top 10 hit.

Guests will also enjoy a selection of open sandwiches and themed cupcakes, including chocolate swagger space cake, lemon and sherbet popping cake, finger-licking sticky toffee and rockin' raspberry cake. A choice of loose leaf teas and plain or fruit scones will also feature on the menu, with an array of condiments such as chocolate satisfaction, Stone strawberry jam and clotted cream. The Rolling Scones afternoon tea will be available from 1 - 14 July, priced at £29.50 per person.

So what do you think? We love the tattoo cheesecake. Let us know your thoughts below!

For more information or to book the Rolling Scones afternoon tea, please visit hilton.com/londonparklane, call +442074938000 or email reservations.parklane@hilton.com
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