Sure, you can make sandwiches at home. You can open a box of Fondant Fancies and call it ‘afternoon tea’. But unless you’re in a cozy London hotel restaurant with a jazz band playing in the background, a menu that – upon reading – you think ‘that doesn’t sound like it’s going to work… but I can’t wait to try it’ and a waiter instantly offering you pink champagne on arrival, it’s not really Afternoon Tea.
I love afternoon tea, it’s probably my favourite meal to have out, because it’s all about the experience. I’m not about traditional, plain afternoon teas. As I said, you can whack that together at home in ten minutes. I want amazing flavour combinations, super luxe settings and Instagram worthy pastries. I want free flowing tea and champagne, and warm scones in a lil basket. I want a waiter to very slowly explain what’s in things and where the ingredients came from, goddamnit! I don’t think I’m asking for much.
What I’m saying here, is no basics allowed. And the new ‘Love Knot’ afternoon tea at The Conrad hotel specifically for the Valentine’s season reaches – and exceeds – all of my ridiculous expectations. I was lucky enough to be invited along to their press evening to preview the tea and tell you guys all about it.
First, an amazingly informative dude gave us a ‘tea lesson’ and let us smell about 25 teas before we decided which one we wanted (I’m boring and of course ordered English Breakfast but there were some amazing smelling, and looking, teas on offer. And he wasn’t even annoyed because their ‘English Breakfast’ is actually an artisanal blend of like 5 different teas. No PG Tips here.)
Something I LOVE about this afternoon tea in particular is that it comes with an extra ‘course’ (and extra food will always go down well with me). Aside from the standard ‘sandwich, scone, pastry’ situation, it came with a ‘starters’ course, three lil amuse bouches, all whacky and wonderful, but also extremely delish. Here we had a falafel and beetroot thingymajig (yes that’s it’s technical name), some artichoke hummus and chicken bruschetta and a SWEET CORN CREME BRÛLÉE. Sounds mental doesn’t it? But it tasted so good. Super hard to explain, sweet and salty? And sweetcorny but also brûlée-y? Incred. So good in fact that I also stole someone else’s when they weren’t looking.
The sandwiches were also gorgeous. I could eat that smoked salmon and cream cheese bun, and the horseradish and beef brioche sandwich a thousand times over. Even the ‘normal’ sandwiches had little twists, like cucumber and mint. They also provided my gluten free friend with all GF alternatives, which is good to know if you have that issue.
Now: the scones. I’m not a great one to judge these because I don’t actually love scones; in fact I hate raisins. But these scones weren’t traditional scones, they were hazelnut and orange blossom. So gorgeous, zero raisins. Hallelujah. (If you love regular scones they also have those, so do not fear).
Look at those extremely ‘grammable pastries. Look at them. They were all super intricate and tasty but my favourite one was the red velvet chocolate cake with a lil mousse on top. And the crystallised rose petals and edible lace were a cute touch.
Another cute factor to this afternoon tea is that there were two menus, a regular food menu, and a jewellery menu. This means if you’re at tea with your boo and she peruses the jewellery menu, you can also buy her a little gift to take away (how cute is that, mega boyf points). The event was sponsored by Storey by Storey who kindly gave us all a delicate 18k gold bracelet with a freshwater pearl in the charm. So adorable. It’s funny actually, because when I turned up to the event I commented on this lady’s stunning necklace. I usually never compliment people’s outfits in a group because it makes me feel weird that I’m accidentally maybe insulting the other people? Anyway her necklace was gorgeous I was like I HAVE TO HAVE IT and it turns out she was the owner of Storey by Storey and the bracelet we all received was actually the matching set to her necklace. So I was a happy bunny, yes.
The Love Knot afternoon tea at The Conrad St James is £39 without champagne, £49 with one glass and £59 for as much champagne as you can drink. It runs from 9th February until the 16th. Set a reminder in your boyfriend’s iPhone. And even if you’re single, hit your Whatsapp group up and go get classy drunk and pastry high.