I am very excited to present to you my first ever afternoon tea review.
Now I have a personal rule where I won’t pay more than £20 a head for Afternoon Tea or £25 with Champagne. Unfortunately most of the top London Hotels do charge more than that per person, which is why I tend to go where the deals are. It’s my belief that if I’m being charged more than £20 for Afternoon Tea they have to be offering something pretty special, in the form of additional entertainment or all you can eat cakes and sandwiches, in which case I won’t complain. However, the good news is that between voucher sites like Groupon and specialist sites like Afternoon Tea, finding an affordable Afternoon Tea is not difficult.
Normally Afternoon Tea at The Kensington Hotel would cost £25 per person, and I will be basing my review on value for money on having to pay this per person.
On arrival we were greeted warmly by the staff and directed to our seats on a rather large sofa in a lounge area of the hotel. I would advise booking a table for Afternoon Tea here as almost every seat was taken or reserved.
The room was stylish and light, quite classical decor with an Asian theme, and although formal the room had a casual atmosphere. And this was perhaps the only disappointing part. Mistaken in thinking Afternoon Tea was taken in The Aubrey Restaurant I had Googled pictures of the rooms before booking. The restaurant is beautiful, full of period features, quite statement in it’s decor. But upon arrival we were seated in the drawing room next to the restaurant. It felt like the perfect place to relax, drink a coffee and read a newspaper on a business trip to London, but it did not feel like the place take Tea. Call me snobbish but I do expect posh to “posh”. Don’t get me wrong, the surroundings were high end but it just felt too casual especially for the price. The couple at the table next to me whom I shared a sofa with were both in jeans and t-shirts which may have had added to the relaxed feel, but in the end this was only a minor disappointment.
We were given the drinks menu by our waitress and were told we could choose as many different teas throughout the meal as we desired. I chose the Darjeeling 2nd Flush to begin and later on the Jasmine tea, and the choice, although not extensive, was varied and interesting.
Once our tea order had been taken the waitress came over to explain the menu to us. Interestingly enough I had managed to time my visit when their usual menu was suspended to make way for a special Russian Maslenitsa Afternoon Tea. The menu was as follows:
Pork pate with pickled beetroot
Mini rubens (corned beef, cabbage and cheese)
Herring and pickles onion on rye bread
Caviar blini, sour cream and dill
HOME MADE SCONES
Warm homemade plain and raisin scones
Cornish clotted cream
Home made Strawberry jam
Pancakes with chocolate sauce and whipped cream
Russian fruit cake
Berry and honey pavlova
Unlike most Afternoon Teas I’ve had each selection was brought out separately, like having a three course meal.
The savoury food came first, and as you can see below was as much about appearance as taste. It was extremely flavourful, but felt more like a taster menu than actual food, a trip to Russia in one mouthful. It’s hard to say which morsel I enjoyed most because they really were very well made, and it was as much fun to taste as it was tasty to eat.
I was rather close to the couple next to me and so didn’t want to disturb their meal with too much flash photography but I took a photo of the savoury course to give you an idea of the layout. Very neat and stylised.
Next came the scones. Now I don’t know why this is an issue at so many Afternoon Teas, but once again there was not enough jam and cream to fill all the scones. At most places you get two scones each, but more often than not you’ll only get one small jam and one small cream. When this is the case surely simple maths dictates that something is off. But never the less the scones were well made, not dry or floury, and there was an interesting, very light and creamy marmalade included (still only one between the two of us though). Also the scones came out freshly baked and wrapped in a serviette to keep in the warmth.
Lastly came the sweets. Once again they were all very tasty but very very small. Another taster course. I especially liked the mini pancakes.
The service throughout had to be the high point. The staff were attentive without being intrusive, formal without being cold, and friendly without being overly familiar. They knew a lot about the menu and contributed greatly to the gentle atmosphere the place had.
So to conclude, I would recommend Afternoon Tea at The Kensington Hotel if you are looking for somewhere pleasant to catch up with a good friend over well prepared food. It perhaps isn’t suitable for a special occasion or an intimate date, but for those who feel intimidated by the posher hotels it would be ideal, high end but not superior.
Quality of Food and Drink: 8/10
Value for Money: 5/10
Total Score: 38/50