As you can imagine, we’ve indulged in our fair share of Afternoon Teas over the years, some more memorable than others, totting up a shameful amount of scones and macaroons on a near on monthly basis. But on one of our most recent visits, we hit what we believed might be a pivotal point in our tea-sipping ventures - the unshakable feeling of, have we been here before?
Entering the elegant Conrad London St. James earlier this month, we were immediately drawn in by its beautiful lounge seating, twinkling Christmas lights and tall, freestanding, silver tea stands, the latter of which really tipped off our increasing feeling of familiarity. A quick Google and it turns out our suspicions were correct, we had indeed been here before as the hotel had originally served under the Intercontinental Westminster brand, which just happens to be one of our favourite places for tea in London. Winner!
We were there to try Emmeline’s Lounge’s new Winter Solstice menu and the team hasn’t missed a single trick to embrace the theme with warm winter flavours and colour.
With a glass of G.H. Mumm Champagne in hand, we started with the savoury selection which included a dish of sandwiches featuring beetroot and goat cheese, honey roast ham on cranberry bread, which was delicious and sweet, a classic cucumber and chive creme fraiche, and roast beef and watercress brioche. All of this was joined by fig and blue cheese crostini, smoked salmon and avocado salad served in a small individual glass and finally, our ultimate favourite, turkey, sage and parma ham sausage rolls. There’s so much going on here but all of the textures and flavours fit together well, taking inspiration from classic winter dishes.
Then onto the scones, and we love the way they’re presented still warm and tucked under a napkin blanket. These have also undergone a seasonal twist with toasted pecan and cranberry and orange flavours. The pecan is subtle whereas the cranberry and orange has a real burst of fresh flavour. We couldn’t agree on a favourite between us so we will have to simply say, they’re equally as good and moreish! Plus either could be enjoyed with either St Clements Curd or jam and clotted cream.
As much as you will be tempted to, we recommend not going crazy on the sandwich refills as you will want to save as much room as possible for the beautiful Valrhona chocolate wreath and intertwined sweets that follow. Executive Pastry Chef, Zoe Wager has created a spectacular collection of desserts that carry the dark and rustic tones of Winter through layers of seasonal fruit and chocolate. If, like us, you enjoy a slice (or several) of black forest gateaux at Christmas, you will love the white forest gateaux, plus the double chocolate orange tart was another welcome, and Christmassy-feeling addition for fellow chocolate lovers. The sweet selection also includes a plum, raspberry and almond tart, and a green apple and blackberry mousse.
We’re always completely blown away by the presentation at this hotel and this seasonal tea continues that trend with a sophisticated menu and idyllic afternoon tea serving atmosphere made all the more perfect with soft live music and fairy lights dotted around. There are also so many different types of tea on offer, something which can often overlooked in favour of fancy pastries, and our helpful servers were on hand with recommendations to go with our particular menu which included a wonderful golden loose leaf tea with caramel flavour accents. Prices start at £49pp (without champagne) which puts it on the slightly pricier end of London teas, but trust us, the experience is worth it. If you’re looking for something to warm you up during these cold winter afternoons or a pick me up treat as we move into the January slump, this is where you want to be.
For more information and to book visit: http://conradhotels3.hilton.com/
* Prices correct at time of writing
Whilst we were provided with a complementary afternoon tea for review, all thoughts and opinions are our own!