If someone put a gun to my head and forced me to choose a last meal, without a doubt it would be afternoon tea. Apart from the fact that all the plates are usually refillable so you could theoretically just go on eating until you died of gluttony (rather than getting shot), it’s such a great, balanced meal.
You start with a glass of champagne, then a plate of sandwiches – crusts cut off to so that you have room to consume more of them (I assume that’s the reason – I’m sure it must be) – followed by scones with clotted cream and jam and a selection of cakes. There’s usually a cupcake wherever you go; there will always be a cucumber sandwich; and unless you have picked an extremely budget version you can normally take away a doggy bag. In that one pretty cake stand you’ve got all the basic food groups – cucumber, champagne, clotted cream and cake (I assume those are the basic food groups – I’m sure they must be).
On SaturdayI decided to test out the latest afternoon tea spot to appear on my radar – the Mandeville Hotel. It’s got a great location just a short walk from Regent’s Park and right next to all the fabulous shops of Marylebone High Street. When you walk in, the street hustle and bustle dies away and the uniformed staff literally can’t get there fast enough to open the door for you. It’s all very charming.
Tea itself is served every Monday – Saturday from 3 – 5pm and it’s a good idea to book in advance. We were a table of four and although our table was perfect for us, the people that hadn’t booked were squished in to much smaller spaces. First up, a (half) glass of champagne – a little stingy on the fizz I thought, considering the refill was £11, but it was properly chilled and tasted delicious. Then the cake stand arrived and we delved into light finger sandwiches, crammed with generous helpings of mouthwatering fillings like free range egg mayonnaise with cress, home cooked ham with grain mustard, roasted organic chicken and, of course, cucumber.
Then there were freshly baked raisin scones with a choice of strawberry and raspberry jam (very important that, if you detest strawberry jam like I do) and then the cake plate – pink meringues and designer cupcakes, chocolate fudge brownies, fruitcake and seasonal tarts, as well as a fascinating fruit cup. Everything was served on Royal Doulton china designed by Zandra Rhodes and I was so taken with the teacups I was quite tempted to steal one (especially when they didn’t refill the champagne). They have a wide selection of teas to enjoy with the cakes and sandwiches, including Mandeville Special Blend, Earl Grey and Organic Mao Jian Green Tea, as well as a cocktail list you can mix and match from.
Ok, so its not The Ritz and you might notice the service is not quite as attentive as it could be, but a champagne afternoon tea at The Ritz will set you back £20 more and for that you would expect the cupcakes to be made of gold. The Mandeville is a stylish option with a great price tag that delivers on taste, value and glam factor. And you won’t get raspberry jam at The Ritz.
Traditional Afternoon Tea £26.50 Champagne Afternoon Tea £32.50
The Mandeville Hotel, Mandeville Place, LONDON W1U 2BE
Tel: 0207 935 5599
If you enjoy a scone or two, why not take a look at Deal Zippy’s Afternoon Tea page for all the latest offers!