While I enjoy my fair share of sugar-laden food (I could never turn down a WA café cake, for example), I'm definitely more of a savoury girl. Because of that, I don't find myself craving the afternoon tea experience all that often - for someone who doesn't prioritise cakes in their diet, how special can a meal of a few sandwiches and desserts be?
Well, my recent experience at Amaranto at The Four Seasons Hotel has reminded me of why this is such a classic and timeless treat for the Brits and beyond. When it's done well, afternoon tea is a delicious and luxurious occasion - especially paired with free-flowing champagne!
My sister and I booked for a girly date of carbs and bubbles through Bookatable's star deal, £49 each for a choice of afternoon tea (traditional, picnic, Italian or vegetarian) and as much champagne as you like for two hours. Most of the high-end afternoon tea menus look fairly similar in content, so we weren't sure what to expect from the quality of food itself and how it would compare to others we'd tried, but we were certainly not disappointed.
First, we were presented with a three tiers of colourful and beautiful cakes and sandwiches. The sandwiches included:
Organic egg, Montgomery cheddar, mustard cress on malted bread
Cucumber, cream cheese & wasabi on walnut bread
East End smoked salmon & prawn cocktail on brown bread
Roast organic chicken, sage & onion stuffing & mustard mayonnaise on white bread
Before we started eating, my sister and I were chatting and laughing about the time we made cucumber sandwiches for our mum on mother's day when we were younger. What a lucky mum...! We were wondering how cucumber sandwiches became such a thing, because we'd never tasted any remarkable ones. Surely it must be the most flavourless sandwich invention?
I then bit into the one we were served, and was blown away! I hung my head in shame for dismissing the humble cucumber sandwich, because this one was so good, it was my favourite amongst them all. The cranberry in the soft bread was the best part, bringing out the taste the cucumber and cream cheese. My next favourite was probably the chicken - a real, proper roast chicken sandwich with stuffing - but the others were lovely, too. We were both pretty impressed by them all.
Then came the cakes...
Rhubarb & custard lolly
Pistachio & strawberry tartlet
Chocolate & raspberry macaron
We didn't quite manage to finish these as we were saving ourselves for the scones, but they were also a big hit. A little too sweet for me, but that's my personal taste - the Pimm's choux was unique and delicious, and the macaron tasted like the richest chocolate brownie!
But then came my favourite part...
The warm, perfect scones. They were adorably mini-sized, but not too much so. It just meant that I had a few... and each time was pretty generous with the clotted cream, I can't lie. They came with sweet jars of strawberry jam and lemon curd, too - I stuck to the strawberry, but I imagine the lemon could make for a tasty twist.
Scones are something that I absolutely love, but rarely eat - I'm not so dedicated that I bake them myself, and I've tried one too many dry and disappointing ones in the past that has put me off buying them at bakeries. So it was particularly nice to feast on them in such a decadent setting, all washed down with more champagne - we each managed about 3 glasses, which was pretty good going! Thankfully we had plenty of food to soak it all up...
I always have a good time with my sister, but it was an extra special and luxurious afternoon, hanging out in such a beautiful place with beautiful food! There was live piano playing, the staff were friendly and smiley, the champagne was the icing on the cake, and 3 hours went by in a flash. I would definitely recommend this deal for its value for money (really, you get a whole lot of food and plenty of bubbly) - it would be perfect for a celebration, or a "just because" treat. You can book here, and Bookatable also has a large selection of other "free-flowing champagne" deals that may take your fancy.
I have a feeling that I'll be reminiscing about this afternoon tea for a while, and that my next one won't be so far in the future...
disclaimer: our afternoon tea was complimentary, courtesy of Bookatable. all opinions are my own, as always.