Sunday, 10 April 2011
Despite the fact that Kate and Wills are totally stealing our wedding limelight this year, I have to admit I'm a liiii-iitttle bit excited about the Royal Wedding. I won't be out on the streets waving a Union Jack (over to you, Sarah) but I will be *dying* to immerse myself in the endless highlight shows and Grazia's fashion analysis. The outfits, the jewels, the drama, the romance - aaaah....
So it was with a skip in my step that I eagerly accepted an invitation to dine with my fabulous friend, Rachel, at the somewhat-gimmicky-but-that's-why-we-love-it Limited Edition Royal Wedding Sapphire Afternoon Tea at Podium restaurant at the London Hilton on Park Lane.
Yes, you heard me right. Inspired by the sapphire engagement rock, the tea includes daintily decorated blue cakes and even a Blue Curacao and berry based "Loveberry" cocktail on arrival (and perhaps even a second one if you happen to spill yours in a moment of enthusiasm - ahem).
Since my last sampling of Podium's afternoon tea, they have been accepted into the Tea Guild in recognition of their high standard. The setting may not be glamorama, but the food and service are sparkling.
We started with a glass of champagne and delicate open sandwiches - the egg and cress and the cucumber with cream cheese and chives being my favourites among the selection, along with Foreman's smoked salmon and horseradish, honey roast ham and Pommery mustard, and prawn mayo with baby gem lettuce. I prefer proper closed sandwiches, but points for originality and they're good.
A Harney & Sons loose leaf black tea and peppermint blend has been specially created to match the afternoon tea and provided the perfect transition from cocktails to cake.
We high-fived ourselves in agreement when given the choice to ditch the fruit scones (dried fruit - way to ruin a good scone), opting for a selection of scrumptious freshly baked plain scones with clotted cream and blueberry jam, and chocolate chip scones with a delicious chocolate praline spread.
Moist blueberry jam cupcakes with K and W iced decorations and chocolate cupcakes with bouquet icing contained a lovely oozy buttermilk goo on the inside, while the top layer of gorgeous miniature fancies was spread out across an EDIBLE white chocolate plate. My favourites were the sweet, white chocolate hearts with tart passionfruit ooziness on the inside and the cheesecake and coconut parcel. Also included were a dainty shortbread wedding cake with gold leaf, biscuit tuile with blueberries and rich green tea truffles in white and milk chocolate.
Unlike the royal wedding, the tea at Podium is indulgent but not extravagant, fun but not pompous. Available from 26 April - 1 May 2011, the Sapphire Afternoon Tea is fairly priced at £32 per person including the cocktail on arrival (or £40 with a glass of champagne). At this price point, it's getting up there with Claridges without the art deco splendour to match - but it does have a cocktail, cakes and fancies that you don't get at Claridges and the like (the standard afternoon tea at Podium is only £25.50 per person). Perhaps to make a fairer comparison, special/seasonal afternoon teas at Claridges cost £50. And, crucially, it's only a short stroll from a commemorative lap of Buckingham Palace.
Podium at the London Hilton on Park Lane, 22 Park Lane, Mayfair, London W1K 1BE (Tel: 020 7208 4022)