Today I’m taking you into the lap of luxury for a truly magnificent afternoon tea. I love this English tradition, especially if you’re fortunate enough to do it in style. Like today in The Rosebery which is in London’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge.
Named after Lord Rosebery, it was a tea house in the 1920s and now, as part of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, it’s a beautiful light-filled space with high ceilings and a strikingly grand fire place. And seats so soft and comfy, just perfect to sink into on a damp November afternoon to tuck into an array of tempting delicacies in this festive-themed feast.
What’s on the menu
Before you get started there are decisions to be made. About the drinks. You can have as many different teas as you like (and there are over 40 to choose from) and can also add champagne, wine, beer or even sake to the experience.
I decided to go for the Alsatian Grand Cru pairing – a first for me, as I’d never seen this offered with tea. A selection of three wines from the Alsace wine region paired with the sandwiches, scones and pastries. What a fabulous addition, and great to try wine I have had little exposure to. A Riesling with the sandwiches, Gewürztraminer with the scones and Pinot Gris with the pastries.
I’m partial to a good sandwich, but today’s delights took these traditional snacks to new heights. The softest of little bite-sized rounds with such a tempting range of fillings. My favourite was Cotswold egg with black truffle – never have egg sandwiches tasted so good! We also enjoyed roasted turkey with orange compote, sage and cranberries; confit tuna with spring onion, piquillo pepper, green olives and oregano; teriyaki salmon and asparagus with pickled ginger; Portland crab with wasabi tobiko, crayfish, miso, coriander and yuzu and braised beef with watercress and horseradish. I mean really when have you ever heard of such sandwich perfection.
At The Rosebery all food is bottomless – i.e. you can have as much of it as you want. And I have to fess up to asking for more eggy ones. I simply couldn’t resist.
The sake option includes three different tasters all served up in the cutest jug and glass.
Of course scones are always a part of English afternoon tea. Today there were two – plain and cranberry – served still warm with Devonshire clotted cream, strawberry jam, rose petal jelly and lemon curd. Melt in the mouth deliciousness served in this clever cage which is hung from the table-side structure. And a good dainty size, too.
As I said earlier, you’re allowed as much tea as you can drink…and there’s so much to choose from. I do love my tea and started with a white tea with jasmine pearls from China. Beautifully floral, delicate and refreshing. And then this aromatic flower tea in its diminutive glass tea pot. How I wanted to take that tea pot home – no obviously I didn’t.
Christmas on a plate
And then for the pastry section. Wow! Have you ever seen Christmas so perfectly encapsulated on one plate? I can only imagine how much love, energy and time has gone into the creation and construction of these masterpieces. Even their names are so evocative. Introducing…
Christmas tart: coconut bounty, fresh pineapple, hazelnut praline, coconut mousse
Orange log: praline sponge, citrus creme, chocolate mousse
Snow ball: crispy rice, chestnut coulis, sabayon creme fraiche
Holy night: orange gingerbread, cherry jam pistachio bavaroise
Santa’s beard: crunchy chocolate, vanilla creme, raspberry coulis
What a tea! Undoubtedly the best I’ve ever had the pleasure of indulging in. And in such an incredibly opulent setting which also felt warm and welcoming due to the exceptional service. A real treat.
Today’s price point
The Festive Afternoon Tea at The Rosebery in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel is £62.
There’s a supplement of £18 to add an Alsatian Grand Cru wine pairing
You could also choose a Sake pairing for £19, a beer pairing for £17 or a glass of Champagne from £14.
The Mandarin Oriental is at 66 Knightsbridge, London SW1, directly across the road from Harvey Nichols and a few steps from Knightsbridge tube station.