If there’s one thing that Townhouse Kensington do well it’s Afternoon Tea. Their Beauty and the Beast themed Tale as Old as Time Afternoon Tea was a roaring success and firmly cemented their status and reputation in creating some of the most inventive Afternoon Tea’s in London. I was excited to be back at the Kensington Hotel this time to enjoy their latest innovation, London Landmarks which is themed around just that, our famous London landmarks. I remember being in awe of the Kensington Hotel the last time I was here, it’s like a beautiful grand stately home, calm and serene in the middle of frenetic London, stepping inside instantly makes me feel relaxed and joyful.
I was meeting with a lovely blogger who runs the Instagram Blog Afternoon Tea Diaries. As soon as I saw Meera having never met her before or seen a photo of her, I knew it was her. Stunning and exotically beautiful, her beaming smile instantly made me feel relaxed because I get quite nervous meeting new people. We clicked straight away, obviously our passion for Afternoon Tea is a great conversation starter. We admired the London Landmarks map which is designed by Eleni Sofroniou, Greek with that name. In fact, my name is Eleni too, I was named after my grandmother, but that’s where the similarity ends!! I am by no means an artist, but Eleni is, the map is a fantastic idea and so informative. It would take us on visual journey as we enjoyed our London Landmarks Afternoon Tea.
Meera is vegetarian so she chose the meat free option just in sandwiches though as she specifically requested the same cakes as in the normal Afternoon Tea. Putting our minds at ease, we were told all cakes are made using vegetarian gelatine just because it’s easier for the pastry chefs. There is also a gluten-free option.As well as champagne which is what I always have with my Afternoon Tea, there is a range of three cocktails if you prefer. Meera and I start off with a glass of champagne and before long, her photography background kicks in and she professionally arranges and re-arranges the table for the perfect shot, I’m happy because I learn a thing or two about taking the perfect photo.
As always, I choose a black tea usually English Breakfast while Meera chooses an unusual sounding Cloud Tea from the cloudy hills of Meghalaya, India. The Kensington Hotel provide tea by The Rare Tea Company, an independent tea company from London founded in 2004 by Henrietta Lovell, she sources and supplies the world’s finest teas. As well as black teas, there is an interesting selection of green and white teas plus a variety of herbal infusions to choose from.
London Landmarks tea is served on an impressive looking circular stand in the shape of the London Eye, a huge wheel with two levels, the top full of delicious looking savouries and the bottom level reserved for scones and sweet delights in the shape of London’s architectural landmarks.
As with the Tale as Old as Time Tea, we begin with a trio of mini savouries which are visually gorgeous and almost too good to eat, they’re always the highlight for me.
They all pay homage to classic British ingredients which can be found in many of our much-loved London pub’s. The Colston Bassett Stilton and Broccoli Quiche had the most delicious crumbly and buttery pastry with a good hit of strong Stilton which I adore and who doesn’t love a classic steak and ale pie? It was sublime and attractively served in a glass topped with a dinky circle of puff pastry. Finally, Crab Cake served with tartar sauce and capers, it was a perfect little morsel and all three really got the juices flowing in anticipation of the good things to come.
Tea was continuously topped up and a fresh brew arrived during our sandwich course, everyone is always on hand to offer assistance at Townhouse Kensington with a lovely warm smile. The sandwiches consisted of Campbells & Company smoked salmon with an unusual lovage pesto and cream cheese on brown bread; Coronation Chicken on brown bread; an Egg & Cress bridge roll which we’re told is inspired by London Bridge because to give it its proper name “London Bridge egg & cress roll” and Marinated Cucumber with crème fraiche & pepper on white bread. All were divine, super soft and fresh in flavour, we resist the urge to order more because the best bit was yet to come.
But before the sweets, we enjoyed traditional scones, plain and fruit with Heather Hills strawberry jam and thick rich unctuous clotted cream. The scones were perfectly baked which were warm when they arrived, Meera and I were so busy chatting and tyring to take the perfect photo’s, they’d gone cold by the time we were ready to eat them, but they were still gorgeous. Are you a cream first then jam or the other way around? I do as the Devonian’s and slather on lashings of cream followed by jam!!
By now, we’re ready to change our tea and I opt for Dragonwell from the Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province of China and Meera chooses a Wild Rooibos with an unusual addition of a maple syrup served in a mini jug to take away the slight bitterness that sometimes accompanies Rooibos tea.
So cleverly designed, the stars are the “London Landmarks” sweets inspired by some of London’s most iconic and recognisable buildings.
We start of with the perhaps the most historic triumph of them all, the traditional Red Telephone Box, a rare sight nowadays as so many of us have mobile phones. I remember the one at the end of my mum and dad’s road, I would always sneak out and call my boyfriend from it, how times have changed but the telephone box is now part of our British heritage just as much as the pub is. This one was made out of rhubarb mousse which had just the right amount of wobble and deliciously creamy.
Next, we have the Gherkin and the Shard, some of the newest additions to the London skyline. The Gherkin was represented by a sphere of white chocolate filled with dark chocolate ganache and the Shard was in fact a delicately spiced carrot cake with milk chocolate. Finally, we have Big Ben of course! This was in fact a lemon curd tart with the face of the famous clock embossed on the tart, rich and citrusy, it was perhaps my least favourite as I’m not a great lover of citrus in desserts, but I do love a lemon posset though, weird I know.
The desserts were just delicious, for me, the yummiest of all was the Gherkin. I loved the thick creamy white chocolate case which cut through the richness of the chocolate ganache centre, it was a harmonious blend.
Sadly, we were coming to the end of our London Landmarks Afternoon Tea I had the best time with my blogger friend Meera, blogging is just the best way to make new friends and I’ve made one in Meera. Three hours just whizzed by and we both agreed that the London Landmarks Afternoon Tea would be a sell-out for the Kensington Hotel just as the Tale as Old as Time was before that, hurry up and book your table.
Afternoon Tea is priced at £42 per person, add a glass of champagne for £12.50, cocktails are £14 each.
Town House Kensington
109 – 113 Queen’s Gate
0207 589 6300