Afternoon tea – what a luxury. Who gets to spend two hours eating tiny sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and then finish off with lovely cakes! It’s always the same menu, but no one here is complaining!
I was lucky enough to be the guest of the Conrad St. James for the afternoon located right in the heart of Westminster – steps away from St. James’s Park Tube stop and close to Westminster Abbey. Tucked onto a side street, it sits in the most divine Georgian brick building made just that right of modern. The tea room itself is awash in pink adding to the festive atmosphere. We were led to groovy sink-in-able yellow chintz chairs large enough to lounge quite easily in, which we did while champagne was free-flowingly poured into our ever-ready glasses.
In my opinion, tea is always about the sandwiches. I love tea sandwiches – can I say it enough? Something about the combination of super-thinly sliced cucumber and mayo nestled inside two crust-less pieces of white bread gets me going. Here they were absolutely flawless and I kept asking for more, please! The coronation chicken, smoked salmon, and ham & cheese were right on target as well.
Next on the de rigueur cream tea menu – the scone. We were given two of each – raisined and un, which is good for those who are not huge fans of raisins in baked goods. I felt the warmth as I reached for my unraisined one and, when the clotted cream was applied, it immediately infiltrated its nooks and crannies. Then topped with an ever-so-slight schmear of strawberry jam, it was popped into my mouth before it was allowed to get room temp. Lemon curd was also on hand for those crazy enough to veer from the traditional.
Let’s not forget the tea! I am not ashamed to say that I am a purist and good olde English Breakfast makes me happy as a clam. Still the selection went on for pages and the waiter tried everything he could to tempt us with Japanese Sencha, Organic Jade Sword or Flowering Osmanthus. We could actually have tried any of them but stuck to the original. (For all those January teetotalers – the word has nothing to do with giving up tea – so go drink some!)
Having made it through the previous courses intact, we felt that it would be a shame to give up now, especially when confronted with such a pretty plate of scrumptious cakes! Tiny Bakewell tarts, chocolate-coffee sponges, mini rose Battenburgs and homespun, signature Conrad Macaroons stuffed with blackberry jam were all enjoyed as the sun was going down. The perfect finale for a perfect afternoon tea. I was sad it was over but knew that I could pop in any time I needed a dose of tea and cake.