It’s not often that I go somewhere and leave unhappy but unfortunately my first experience at Brown’s did not live up to the high standards I expect of a luxury hotel but I took up their very kind offer of “putting things right” and so last week, I found myself back at the hotel with my mother for Afternoon Tea. The hotel is part of the Rocco Forte family, I really like this group of hotel’s, they epitomise grace and elegance. Sister of Rocco Forte, Olga Polizzi owns the stunning seaside Cornish hotel, Tresanton in St Mawes and she is also the mother of the TV personality and presenter of my favourite travel and restaurant shows, Alex Polizzi. The Hotel Tresanton is where my youngest brother got married. It was a truly elegant and stylish wedding, romantic, intimate, enchanting especially because the ceremony was held in a dimly lit St Mawes castle and the hotel cleverly followed through and created the same romantic atmosphere and ambience for my brother and sister-in-law. It was an extraordinary wedding which had a profound effect on me and I will never forget it. I really hope that one day I have the pleasure of staying at Tresanton; so you can see how much this group of hotels means to us as a family.
I love weddings, I could easily drift away writing about them but I was here to have Afternoon Tea at Brown’s Hotel which opened in 1837 by James and Sarah Brown. Regular visitors were Oscar Wilde, Arthur Conan Doyle and Alexander Graham Bell; the English Tea Room has been hosting Afternoon Tea since the mid nineteenth century. Brown’s is also home to the restaurant, Hix Mayfair, operated by acclaimed chef Mark Hix. First appearances are of a small but luxurious quintessentially British boutique hotel not far from Green Park, Piccadilly and my favourite part of London, swish and sophisticated Mayfair, Albermarle street to be exact. It’s just my cup of tea, beautiful paintings grace the polished dark wood oak panelled walls, it has an old world charm and Victorian sophistication about it with a grand piano, the pianist tinkling the ivories with soothing melodies in the background, I really felt we were going to be in for a treat this time.
We were seated and given the menu to choose from either a Traditional Afternoon Tea or a Teatox version by “clean eating” guru, Madeleine Shaw. I love Madeleine, I have her books but in all honestly, to me, Afternoon Tea is an opportunity to be indulgent and a little bit gluttonous! Sorry Madeleine. We were offered a palate cleansing iced tea which was blackcurrant and hibiscus, I love iced tea, I should endeavour to re-create it at home. It was a gorgeous crimson colour and very refreshing. We chose our tea, my mum is equally as boring as I am when it comes to tea choice never venturing beyond Assam and I was happy to stick to that.
Our waiter presented us with the largest magnum size of Ruinart champagne I’ve seen and poured us a glass of beautiful straw coloured fizzy deliciousness, I adore champagne, I could drink it every day I tell my mum much to her dismay, I am not an alcoholic mum, I can assure you!
Soon followed the Afternoon Tea stand, the most beautiful characteristically British floral inspired china stand laden with lots of cute sandwiches, this time, they were ever so fresh and filled with all sorts of delights such us honey roasted ham and piccalilli on onion bread, that was my favourite, the onion married so well with the sharpness of the piccalilli. Also on offer, egg and salad cream and no cress in sight, this time, partnered with crispy cos lettuce, that was my mum’s favourite. Also, we had cream cheese with celery on malt brown bread, smoked salmon with pickled fennel and capers and finally, coronation chicken on wholemeal bread. It was definitely an interesting mix of sandwiches which we both loved, so many hotels become stale and boring in their offering of Afternoon Tea. Competition is fierce and so I really believe they have to be inventive in how they present their Tea and what’s on offer. Brown’s did not disappoint this time.
Whilst we were enjoying our sandwiches and the champagne was sadly all consumed, further refreshments came in the form a delicious English Breakfast tea in a traditional silver teapot which was replenished throughout our Afternoon Tea experience. Our waiter was attentive and couldn’t do enough for us offering more and more sandwiches but seriously, we couldn’t as we were eagerly awaiting the scones and cakes. Scones were freshly made and so were still warm with the faintest scent of freshly baked bread which was so appetising. Although not as big or high as I expect scones to be, they were nevertheless really delicious, crumbly, soft and spongy with the thickest Cornish clotted cream I’d ever seen so I piled it on high followed by jam, the only proper way to do scones! Mum was so far loving her Afternoon Tea, this was only her second Afternoon Tea experience. A couple of years ago, I took my mum and dad and my daughter to the Ritz at Christmastime for Afternoon Tea, that was by far the best I have ever had the pleasure of eating but then, it is the Ritz after all, nothing but pure excellence will do, that’s one I completely recommend especially at Christmas.
My mum’s gorgeous silky flowery scarf matches the floral design of the tea cup!
Before the cakes arrived, we had a very welcome refreshingly zingy lemon and aloe vera jelly topped with mint sugar, I could have quite easily enjoyed a bigger glass of that. Mum was feeling quite full so when she saw that the cakes were mini in size, she was relieved. Me, well to be honest, I would have expected at least 6 to 8 cakes of this size because Afternoon Tea is very expensive, lets be honest. Though perhaps you may not finish them all, you can at least opt to take the remainder scones or cakes home with you, you really don’t want to leave anything behind. Since there were only 5 cakes, we scoffed them all (I love that word!) but as there were two scones left, we were asked if we wanted to take these home with us.
The cakes were definitely cute and pretty, always too good to eat and were just as delicious as they looked. We had fromage blanc, lime and ginger tart, pistachio and cherry financier, a stunning looking peach and lemon verbena giant macaron, violet and berry cheesecake and a chocolate and banana gateau. My mum isn’t a lover of chocolate cake believing it to be too sickly sweet but this was surprisingly much lighter than it looked, I loved it. I also chose the macaron which was gorgeously chewy, we shared the fromage blanc tart, mum had the pistachio financier and the cheesecake which is her personal favourite dessert.
Sadly, our Afternoon Tea was coming to an end, I’m so glad my mum came with me, she really enjoyed herself, she loves Afternoon Tea because she has a penchant for sweets over savoury dishes, as I do too and it’s filtering down the generations as my daughter has a sweet tooth, we really must be careful though but it’s not often you enjoy a treat like this. We were so well looked after, we left very happy indeed, Brown’s have definitely restored my faith in them. The ambience is set for the most romantic of Afternoon Teas with the beautifully soothing piano in the background so take someone special and enjoy this quintessentially British Tradition at BrownsHotel.
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We were invited to have Afternoon Tea at Brown’s – all photo’s and opinions are my own.